The modern world is chock full of distractions and that’s not going to change anytime soon. The most productive people are not those who learn to simply ignore these distractions (as that’s nearly impossible) but those who know certain methods and strategies to maintain their focus. There are a number of ways you can improve your focus and regiment your schedule to avoid potential distractions. Here are seven of these strategies and techniques.
- Limit your time with digital devices
- Take time to breath and relax throughout the day
- Don’t spread yourself too thin with your real friends
Start With Your Surroundings
One of the most important steps to take when trying to live distraction free is to minimize the number of distractions directly around you. While it’s impossible to ignore and avoid every single distraction in your life, it is possible to lower the number of distractions in your life to help you stay focused.
First, if you’re working from home, or even in an office, you should take a look around your room and ask yourself if there’s anything that will ultimately prevent you from doing the work which needs to be done. To stop yourself from being distracted by the vast expanse of the internet, you should remain offline as long as possible and avoid checking e-mails and website to the best of your ability. Keeping your surroundings distraction-free is the first step to living distraction-free.
Set Specific Time Limits
Those who are easily distracted usually find they’re more productive when working in “blocks.” That is, they set aside a specific amount of time and focus on one task during this time, before moving onto something else.
If you’re working on a task which you know will take you a shorter or longer time than average, you can adjust your block and work for however much time is needed to accomplish the task. You can rearrange your blocks anyway you want and keep them flexible over the course of a day or weeks. The key is to focus on one task for a set amount of time, the task you’re focusing on or when you’re focused on it doesn’t matter. It’s all up to you.
Describe Your Task And Simplify It
In addition to setting aside a certain amount of time for each task, you should also briefly and simply describe the task you’re going to work on. For example, you should describe the length of your assignment or project, as well as what exactly you’re trying to accomplish and why.
Laying out the reasoning and exact specifications of the project will help you more easily focus on what you’re trying to accomplish and get to work faster, as well as being more productive. If you find yourself describing less or more work than originally thought, you can adjust your time blocks and expectations, which helps in eliminating surprise from the final rest, in terms of both quality and time.
Cut Out Random Entertainment
A recent phenomenon which the internet has helped create is the rise of “random entertainment.” Put simply, random entertainment is anything which distracts you for an unspecified amount of time and which provides thrills which are unknown beforehand. For example, checking social media and browsing through multiple movie trailers online are forms of random entertainment because there’s no built-in time limit.
You could watch eight trailers or eighty trailers, you could browse through Facebook and Reddit for eight minutes or eighty minutes. Setting a time limit for yourself is essential and following it even more so. If you find you need to take a break from your work, you should be stringent about how much time you give yourself before returning to work, that way you don’t lose the thread of your prior train of thought. Additionally, you can try to work in large blocks of time, like an eight-hour workday, and give yourself unlimited time for entertainment when that large block is over.
Breathe In And Out
This is the simplest but most important item on this list. Work builds stress, which can pound against your mind and body as you work. To avoid this pounding stress, it’s important to take a few minutes every few hours to sit back and breathe. If you feel your workload increasing to an unbearable degree, simply sit back and take a few deep breaths in and out. This breathing will help you relax and clear your mind, allowing you to focus more clearly on your current assignment and de-stressing your body.
In addition to breathing during your work, you can also practice mindful and deep meditation, which helps the body untighten and may put things into greater perspective during the day. This technique works more effectively than going off on an entertainment binge because it helps you more easily focus once your break is finished.
Disregard Technology Entirely
One reason the modern world is so distracting is because of the presence of smartphones and the internet. In response to these highly distracting developments, many people have started practicing “digital minimalism.” This simply means that they’ve started to implement rules for using technology and are spending far less time with their smartphones and other technological devices.
Setting rules and “boundaries” in regard to your smartphone is important, because without rules and mindful use, digital devices can quickly overtake and consume your life. Additionally, you can go a week or two without social media or video sites to truly “cleanse” your mind and body of the distractions they provide.
Just Say No
Digital devices aren’t the only distraction in life. Don’t overcommit to spending time with friends and family, as commitment to these people can also detract from the time you need to accomplish your own personal goals. The time you choose to commit or not is completely yours, but take care not to spread yourself too thin, as this leads to few accomplishments and a busy, hectic life and mind.