Now that I was certain all those distractions weren’t serving me, it was time to implement a clean sweep. First, I dumped everything on my desktop into a folder called “everything” (I know, it’s not a particularly creative folder name).

It felt strange stuffing all those files into one folder and I wondered if I wasn’t just displacing the mess somewhere else. Then I reminded myself the idea was to remove visible distractions that could take me off course.

I assured myself that if I needed one of these files, it would be easier to find it using Spotlight (the Mac OS’ built-in search feature) rather than hunt for each file one at a time on my desktop. In any case, the files I use every day, like particular Word docs, are more easily opened under the “Most Recent” tab anyway.

Next, per Van Els’ advice, I changed my background photo to a muted boring grey and made the app dock auto-hide. I also found a program called Bartender 2 to organize all the apps running on the menu bar at the top of the screen. Now I start my workday with a blank slate the color of actual slate.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.53.22 AM

Desktop cleared, I looked for more ways to declutter. I decided to disable all notifications on my laptop, making sure no apps could interrupt me.

Notifications
I also set the “do not disturb” feature to always-on by making the setting turn on at 7 am and turn off at 6:59 am.

I also set the “do not disturb” feature to always-on by making the setting turn on at 7 am and turn off at 6:59 am.

Permenant do not distrub

After conquering all the unwanted triggers on my desktop and disabling notifications, it was time to tackle the serpent’s den of distractions, my web browser. The first problem was how to deal with all those open tabs? The issue was particularly troublesome because the more tabs I had open, the less likely I was to reboot my machine and web browser, preventing updates and further slowing down my computer. I’d go months without a cleansing restart until my mac would eventually give-up, freeze-up and crash — typically taking down unsaved documents in the wreckage.