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Reinforce Your Priorities By Doing This One, Time-Tested Thing

The easy way to eliminate the obstacles standing in your way of success

Ellen Goodwin
5 min readOct 20, 2022


A friend of mine is deeply involved in learning a new skill, hoping he can change professions and make more money. Besides his 40+ hour-a-week job, he’s taking classes that involve successfully completing multiple projects each week.

It’s an understatement to say he is busy, yet he still finds time to spend with friends, work on his running, and cook elaborate (and delicious) meals.

He can do all this because he has prioritized what he wants (a new career) and eliminated what stands in his way (time-sucking distractions, mainly of the digital kind.)

Rather than try to ignore distracting notifications or block time-wasting apps, he completely removed any opportunity for them to appear in this phase of his life.

He did this by buying the smallest of flip phones. Rather than enjoy a bells-and-whistles-filled smartphone, which he feels is a distraction machine, he now uses a tiny phone (similar to this one.

When you see him using it, it’s like you’ve been magically transported back to the early 2000s. The phone is fine for making calls, but texting anything is a chore. Scrolling social media or playing games is painfully awkward. With little storage, there’s no place for anything other than the most essential of apps.

Which makes it perfect for my friend. He still has a way to communicate when needed, but he is no longer digitally distracted, so he has the time to work and study and still enjoy his favorite pastimes.

He has Burned his Boats.

The idea of Burning Your Boats is attributed to the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés, who, in 1519, as the story goes, ordered all his boats to be burned after he and his army landed in Mexico. Their job was to conquer the land for Spain, but they faced formidable odds.

Burning all the boats signaled to his men that there was no other option but to fight and win. Which they ultimately did. He prioritized what he needed (victory) and eliminated what stood in his way (his men thinking they could sail away when the going got tough.)



Ellen Goodwin

Productivity Consultant, TEDx Speaker, Podcast Co-host, Author of DONE: How To Work When No One Is Watching. Learn more at