Founder Diary

April 19, 2023

Distraction is good for you.

Distraction is good for you.

Plus, why wrapping family around work is a dead end.

The Brick Layer newsletter banner featuring a hamster with a trowel. The hamster is leaning on a brick wall under construction.
The Brick Layer newsletter banner featuring a hamster with a trowel. The hamster is leaning on a brick wall under construction.
The Brick Layer newsletter banner featuring a hamster with a trowel. The hamster is leaning on a brick wall under construction.
Nikita Kazhin's headshot

Nikita Kazhin

Co-founder at Brick

X (formerly Twitter) logo

Hey friend 👋,

Here are 3 bricks to help you build your thing:

  • 1 down-to-earth study breakdown

  • 1 quick tip

  • 1 link.

This one is a 4 to 5-minute read unless you want to savor it.

Let’s get to it.

1 Down-to-Earth Study Breakdown: Distraction is good for you

There’s this cool new study about your smartphone use. The conclusion?

Smartphones are a distraction. Yep, you that’s the gist of it.

But before you call me Captain Obvious and move this email to junk, hear me out. It’s not all so cut and dried.

This paper explored the connection between smartphones and cognitive functioning (aka how well you think and solve problems). There’s a consensus that the smartphone is generally bad for your thinking (sorry). BUT!

While this new research generally confirms this, it also goes against the grain:

  • Screentime does NOT lead to worse brain functioning. It’s smartphone checking that makes you dumb, not being on the phone per se. Task switching leads to higher cognitive load and cognitive failures, but looking at the screen on its own does not.

  • Some apps temporarily benefit your thinking. That includes some obvious utilities like calculator or Google Maps. But guess what else made the list? Social media. What?! And here’s why:

  • Distraction is good for you. You read that right. Looks like picking up the phone, and even spamming likes on Instagram can be distractions in a very positive sense. Those may help you switch gears, avoid thinking about work and just be in the moment. Isn’t that nice?

My take is that focused phone use is much better than haphazard checking. So if you do pick it up, aim for fewer but sustained sessions and bundle activities to reduce how often you touch it.

1 Quick Tip: Get your post-it game under control

If you’re anything like me, simply having stickies on your desk means they’ll ultimately cover all available space. I guess if there’s Parkinson’s law (work expands to fill all available time), there can be Stickinson’s law, too.

Stickies on the Mac don't stick to the desktop

Then, they get lost, crumpled, and get in the way all the time.

One solution would be to use your computer’s default app to put those right on your desktop (if you use a Mac, the app’s called Stickies). With no way for a mischievous toddler to steal them.

But guess what?

Stickies on the Mac don’t stick to your desktop.

Instead, they run like a lil bitch hide as soon as you open any other app. Good job, Apple 👏

Stickies that don’t stick. WTF?!

So here’s a better solution:

I use an app called Quick Note. It has the exact same functionality, but these stay on your desktop no matter what you do with other apps. They can even show up on top of other apps, if you want. Now that’s sticky!

Quick Note's stickies do stick to the desktop

You get 3 notes on the free tier which is just what the doctor ordered for me (if you want more, they have a Pro version as a $8.99 one-time purchase).

1 link

"A lesson that has served me well:
You don't feel as frustrated, overwhelmed, and stuck when you do the tasks, hobbies, and habits you want to do.
They're on your mind for a reason. You get annoyed when you don't do them.
Build them into your days.
And stop avoiding them."
Stephen Timoney

Steve here highlights an interesting phenomenon: sacrificing everything else for the sake of work actually hurts your work.

That’s why I’ve been experimenting with my schedule a lot recently. I want to learn to flip the script and wrap work around family & hobbies, not family around work.

My theory is that the reversed approach won’t simply make me a better dad & husband, but also make work that much more enjoyable.

Easier said than done, of course. But I’m giving it a go.

Would love to update you on this one day.

Thanks for reading.

Let’s keep building our time independence together. One brick at a time.

Be the first to know what's new at Brick: