My Personal Struggle with Distraction Cancer


Table of Contents

Let's get real for a moment.

A couple of years ago, I hit rock bottom.

I was so caught up in doing a million things at once.

Toggling between work tasks, answering emails, endlessly scrolling on social media.

That my life started falling apart.


One night, it got really bad.

I was up late trying to finish a project, eyes sore from staring at the screen.

My phone buzzed with yet another 'urgent' email.

My heart sank as I read it.

A major client was unhappy with our work.

I sat there alone, in the dark, wondering how it had come to this.

I was working non-stop, but for what?

My work was sloppy, my big career dreams were going nowhere.

And here I was, missing my life to fix a client problem.

I felt ashamed.


It was a wake-up call.

I realized I was losing the best parts of my life to what I call "distraction cancer."

I was so wrapped up in small, unimportant tasks that I was neglecting what really mattered.

Quality work, my dreams, and most importantly, my family and my own well-being.


That's when I decided enough was enough.

I dove into finding a solution.

And after lots of trial and error, I figured it out.

The key wasn't some productivity hack.

It was something much simpler but way more important: Discipline.


It wasn't an easy fix, but the change was huge.

I started to focus more on what actually mattered.

My work improved, my stress levels went down.

And I finally had time to spend with my family and on things that truly make me happy.


Now, I want to help you avoid hitting rock bottom like I did.

In this letter, we're going to dig deep into the problem of constant distractions.

I'll talk about how to spot it, how to shift your mindset, and most crucially, how to build discipline to keep your life on track.

If you're fed up with feeling stuck, always busy but never moving forward, this letter is for you.

Stick around, because this might be the change you need to turn things around.


It all starts as a joke

You're overwhelmed, aren't you?

Long hours at the office, client meetings, site visits, and the works.

But how much of it really moves the needle?

You end the day feeling like you’ve been running on a treadmill.

Lots of energy spent but not really going anywhere.


Distraction is dilution


Sounds familiar?

You’re not alone.

A lot of architects, especially in our age, feel exactly the same way.

And no, it's not just about work-life balance.

It's also about the quality of work you're putting in.

The culprit?

Distraction cancer.


Distraction is everywhere.

Your phone buzzes every few minutes.

There’s a new email.

Or someone at the office wants a 'quick chat,' which turns into a long conversation about nothing.

Then, there's Netflix after hours and doomscrolling through Twitter when you can’t sleep.

Before you know it, the day is over.

And you’re left wondering, "Where did the time go?"


Don’t get me wrong.

It’s not like you’re doing nothing.

You're busy. Super busy.


But busy doing what?

Checking your social media feed doesn’t get those blueprints drawn.

Scrolling through endless emails won't win you new clients.

And binging Netflix sure as heck won't improve your skills or add value to your career.

You’re stuck in a cycle of being busy but not productive.

As I read on Mike LaValle’s post this week:

Don’t confuse moment with Progress.



If you're nodding your head while reading this, then keep reading.

We’re going to look at the various ways we allow distraction to eat into our time. The Cancer.

Then we will lay down some solid plans to cure it with something we all need a little more of: Discipline.

This cancer is killing you

So, what are we talking about when we say "distraction cancer"?

It's not just the obvious time-sinks like social media (although that's a biggie for sure).

It's all the activities and choices we make that give us an immediate hit of satisfaction, but do zip for our long-term goals or work quality.


Take meetings, for instance.

Some are crucial, no doubt.

But many times, you find yourself sitting through endless rounds of talks that could have been summarized in a five-minute email.


Why does this happen?

It's the lure of being busy.

You feel like you’re doing something.

So you trick yourself into thinking it's essential.

But it's not.


Then, we've got emails.

Ah, the never-ending loop of responding, forwarding, and CCing.

You probably deal with hundreds of them a week.

How many actually matter? A handful?

The rest are just there, taking up mental space and killing your focus.


And don't even get me started on multitasking.

You might think handling five tasks at once is efficient, but studies show it's the opposite.

You're diluting your attention and making more mistakes.

Which means you'll spend extra time fixing them later.

It's a lose-lose situation.


Do you remember the 21 mistakes I made, and every architect will make?

#17. Being disorganized. Take a look.


The impact of the cancer

"Okay, so I waste a bit of time. What’s the big deal?"

The problem is, it all adds up.

Ever heard of the compound effect?

It's the principle that small actions, repeated over time, can lead to massive results.

And it works both ways: for good habits and bad ones.


1% better vs 1% worse


Consider your work life.

You're losing out on hours that could've been spent refining your projects, networking with potential clients, or even learning new skills.

This isn't just about the present.

It's your future at stake here.


Think of all those dream projects you want to land.

  • going to tennis lessons
  • learning to play the piano
  • traveling to exotic countries


Well, distractions are the roadblocks keeping you from getting there.


Distraction also messes with your work-life balance.

The extra time you spend doing ‘busy work’ means less time for family, friends, and hobbies.

These are the things that enrich your life and make the hard work worthwhile.

When you let distractions eat into this time, you're losing out on more than just productivity.

You're losing out on life.


A burnt-out architect is good for no one

Then there's the mental toll.

Distractions break your focus, forcing your brain to switch gears constantly.

This cognitive juggling act is exhausting.

It's like running a marathon every day but not getting any fitter or reaching any milestones.

(I used to have nightmares about this)

Over time, it can even lead to burnout.


Losing reputation

Finally, distractions can tarnish your professional reputation.

Missed deadlines, subpar work, and a lack of focus don't exactly scream "hire me" to potential clients.

Your work is your calling card in this industry.

If it suffers, so does your business and, ultimately, your livelihood.


The Mindset Shift

Look, knowing you've got a problem is one thing.

Doing something about it is a whole different game.


That's where the mindset shift comes into play.

You need to go from seeing these distractions as harmless time-fillers to viewing them as what they truly are: career and life saboteurs.


First off, let's debunk a myth

Busyness doesn't equal productivity.

Say it with me:


We live in a culture that equates being busy with being important or successful.

Full calendars and endless to-do lists.

This is false.

You can be running around like a headless chicken all day and have nothing to show for it.

Productivity is about being effective, not just active.

It's about doing the right things, not just a lot of things.


Secondly, the important.

Let’s shift your focus from urgent to important.

Not everything that demands your attention deserves it.

Learn to distinguish between what's urgent and what's genuinely important.


Discipline is choosing between what you want now, and what you want most


Urgency is often dictated by other people.

Your customers, your teammates, your suppliers…

Those who control your urgency control your life.

Importance is about what truly matters to you and your goals.

So the next time you find yourself knee-deep in ‘urgent’ emails, ask yourself:

Is this really moving the needle for me?


Third, value your time

Think of it as your most precious resource because, well, it is.

Once spent, you can't get it back.

Start assigning a ‘value’ to your time.

Price your hours at 100€, 200€.

When you do that, you'll think twice before squandering it on meaningless tasks or distractions.

(I’ve got a Google Chrome Extension for that)


And lastly, accountability

Whether it's a mentor, a business partner, or even an accountability app—have something or someone to answer to.

When you know you've got to report your actions to someone else, it makes you think twice about your choices.

It helps keep those distractions at bay.

That’s why we offer 1:1 Coaching Sessions.

We ask you questions and help you find your own answers.

It’s more about helping you improve your skills, mindset, or performance.


This isn't just a one-time thing.

Mindset shifts take time and consistent effort.

But the payoff is massive.

You become more focused, more productive, and ultimately, more satisfied with your work and your life.


The Cure: Practical Steps to Cultivate Discipline

We've laid bare the problem of distraction cancer and what it's doing to your career and life.

Now, let's talk about the solution.

It’s not some shiny new app or a quick hack.

It's good old-fashioned discipline.

Discipline is like the immune system for distraction cancer.

It helps you fend off the time-wasting viruses and keep your focus laser-sharp.


Why discipline?

Because it's all about self-control and making the right choices.

Discipline enables you to bypass those tempting distractions and keeps you aimed at your objectives.

It's the key to turning plans into action and goals into achievements.

I will give you eight practical steps that helped me build my discipline.


Step one: set clear goals.

Discipline starts with setting clear priorities.

You need to know exactly what you want to achieve.

Both in the long term and what needs to happen today, this week, this month to get there.


I'm not talking about vague statements like "I want to be more productive."

I mean concrete, specific goals.

Like, "I want to complete two architecture projects this month" or "I aim to dedicate two hours daily to learning marketing skills."

The clearer your goals, the easier it is to build a discipline strategy around achieving them.


Write those goals down.

Break them into actionable tasks.

Create a roadmap.


My tip: define your SMART Goals.

🎓 Tired of setting goals but never hitting them? Take control of your professional future with the Business – SMART Goals Challenge. Learn how to set achievable goals that move the needle, keep you focused, and finally get you where you want to be in your career. Stop guessing and start growing.


Step two: plan your day.

Next, implement structure. Don't complain.

Structure doesn't mean you become a robot.

It just means you allocate specific blocks of time for different tasks, including downtime and leisure.

And yes, you stick to them. No excuses!

When you know what you should be doing at any given time, you're less likely to stray.


Take 10 minutes every evening to plan out the next day.

List the tasks you need to accomplish and allocate specific time slots for each.

Stick this schedule somewhere you can see it throughout the day.

Your phone's wallpaper, maybe?


Step three: Prioritize.

All tasks are not made equal.

Use the Eisenhower Matrix or any other prioritization method that works for you.

The idea is to identify what's urgent and important and tackle those tasks first.


My tip: Take care of your time

🎓 Unlock the secrets of effective time management with the Operations – Time Management Challenge. Learn strategies to sort your priorities, optimize your workday, and get more done without the burnout.


Another aspect of discipline is learning to say no.

There's no shortage of things vying for your attention.

You've got to be ruthless in deciding what gets your time.


New project inquiry but you are overwhelmed?

Maybe it's time to say no.


Invited to a meeting with no clear agenda?

Politely decline.


Less is more, remember that?


Do less, achieve more.


Step four: eliminate distractions.

Easier said than done, right?

But seriously, put that phone on silent or use apps that block social media during work hours.

You’ve got Opal, an app that blocks distracting websites.

If noise is an issue, invest in some good noise-canceling headphones.

Create a work environment that helps you focus rather than derails you.

I’ve got my Bose QuiteComfort 35. Best decision ever.


Step five: take breaks.

Discipline doesn't mean you're grinding 24/7.

Your brain needs breaks to recharge.

Use techniques like the Pomodoro Technique, where you work in bursts of 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break.

This keeps my mind fresh and focused.


Step six: Start small

Cultivate good habits.

Discipline isn't just an act; it's a habit.

The more you practice it, the more ingrained it becomes, and the easier it gets.

Pick one or two areas where you can implement discipline and make it a routine.

Slowly, add more as you go along.

Start Small and Scale Gradually.


The beautiful thing about discipline is that its effects spill over into all areas of your life.

A disciplined approach to work will positively impact your personal life and mental well-being.

Plus, you know what they say:

Discipline equals freedom.

The more disciplined you are, the more time you'll free up for things that truly matter.


Step seven: track your progress and seek accountability.

Keep tabs on how you're doing.

Did you stick to your schedule?

Did you meet your daily or weekly goals?

This isn't about beating yourself up for slip-ups.

It's about knowing where you stand so you can make the necessary adjustments.


Whether it's a coworker, family member, or an accountability app, having someone—or something—to answer to can make a world of difference in sticking to a disciplined routine.

Book 1:1 coaching sessions and take your accountability seriously.


Step eight: celebrate small wins.

Completed a task on time?

Made it through the day without diving into the social media black hole?

Celebrate it.

These small victories build momentum and make the discipline journey more enjoyable.


Fight off that distraction cancer.

And set yourself on a path to greater productivity and a more fulfilling life.


Eradicate cancer once and for all

You've got the facts.

You’ve got the mindset shifts.

And even the practical steps to take control of your time.

Now, it's up to you to put all this into action.


The world isn't going to slow down or become less distracting.

If anything, it's going to get worse.

What you can control, however, is how you navigate this landscape.

With a disciplined approach, you can reclaim your time, sharpen your focus, and elevate your career and life.


I want you to think about where you could be a year from now if you start implementing these strategies today.

Better projects?

A more satisfying work-life balance?

A stronger sense of fulfillment?

It's all within reach, but you've got to take that first step.


This isn't just about productivity.

It's about creating a life that aligns with your values and goals.

You’re not just another cog in the wheel.

You’re an architect, a creator.

You have the skills and the vision to build not just great structures, but also a great life.


Don't just read this and move on.

Make a commitment to change.

Let's work together to build a career and life that you can be proud of.


The ball's in your court now.

Are you ready to kick distraction to the curb and take control of your life?

The first step starts with you.



Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways I can help you with:


1. Start with an affordable Challenge to improve your skills.


2. Book 1:1 sessions for ongoing guidance to continue your growth.


See you around,



My tip

🎓 Understand how Social Media tools work, and start building your social media presence with the Marketing – Social Media Challenge. It will help you prioritize which social media tool you need right now.



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