Let’s face it, the world isn’t slowing down anytime soon. We’ve got pings and notifications coming out of our ears, emails to respond to, meetings to attend, and hundreds of hilarious memes that aren’t going to share themselves.
If you find yourself constantly checking your phone to see what’s happening on Facebook or TikTok or reading each email as it comes in, you’ve probably noticed a corresponding dip in your productivity levels and overall focus at work. Even work tools like Slack and Teams might make it feel like clicking on all those red notifications are keeping you productive. But they’re not.
The good news is you’re not alone.
Today, focus at work is the exception, not the rule. Most of us constantly find ourselves torn between what we really need to do and the constant pull of moment-by-moment arising tasks and distractions. According to a recent study conducted by the online learning company, Udemy, nearly 70 percent of workers admit they feel distracted when they’re on the job.
How do I stop distractions?
Great question. And one many of us find ourselves asking around our 200th Slack message of the day. The short answer is we can’t. But wait! Don’t stop reading quite yet. While it might not be feasible for most of us to toss our phones and live peacefully off the grid for the rest of our lives, there are several steps we can take to plan for and mitigate daily distractions. The following 5 tips are simple to adopt, easy to use, and they can help you improve your focus without swearing off technology.
1. Set up your day the night before.
Does it ever feel like you’re at the mercy of your day? Like you’re rolling with the flow and being reactive to whatever your phone, friends, co-workers, or computer serve up while you’re working? As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail (or something like that). This doesn’t just apply to big life goals. Every single day needs a plan – and that plan should happen the night before the day actually starts. We recommend carving out 10-15 minutes of your evening in undistracted solitude. Take a look at your calendar, master task list, and determine the top 2-3 things you want to accomplish the following day. The key here is to remain selective about the impact you want to make. Filling your plan with 20 items and only accomplishing 2 can leave you feeling unaccomplished and unfocused.
2. Do the most difficult thing first.
Making a plan and having the first item be check my emails defeats the purpose of making a plan in the first place. Starting your day by doing the easy things first – replying to that meeting request or scheduling the oil change you’ve been putting off – is like filling your day with empty calories before it even begins. Sure, it feels good at the moment, but you’ll feel awful at 5 pm. Instead, start with the hardest task first. Dive into the big project plan. Write that blog post. Brainstorm and map out your next big idea. Then fill the nooks and crannies of your day with the little things.
3. Keep the big picture in mind.
If you find yourself taking a detour into TikTok land, don’t worry. It happens to the best of us. But keeping your big, ultimate goals in mind can help you put your focus squarely on important tasks. Just like planning each day in advance, take a look at your month and year. Some people even choose to think 5 years out. Next, make sure these big goals are easily accessible so you don’t forget them. Print them out and stick them in front of your computer. Set them as a daily reminder on your phone. Have weekly check-ins with yourself. Keeping the big picture in mind is incredibly important for daily focus.
4. Turn off your notifications.
Turning off the notifications on your phone, computer, or both is one of the easiest steps you can take to maintain focus during the day. With just a click, you can silence all those dings, pings, and red badges for some heads-down focus time. Turning off your notifications pairs well with a daily plan where you block out a specified number of hours towards specific projects. Just turn your notifications off for an hour or two, and shut down your applications. It will improve your ability to concentrate immediately.
5. Stop Multitasking
If anyone tells you they’re a multitasker, run far, far away. Multitasking isn’t just a myth, evidence shows that it may actually waste more of our time while ruining our concentration and creativity. Our brains were wired to focus on and complete one task at a time, so let’s keep it that way. To help, try only keeping one application on your screen open at once (or multiple if they all pertain to the same project). And whatever you do, don’t try working on one project when you’re in a meeting for another. It simply doesn’t work.
Even though you may not be able to maintain a completely distraction-free workday, approaching each and every single day mindfully can help you stay focused, accomplish more than ever, and feel better when you end the day. At least you won’t feel as bad taking an evening Instagram binge to wind down. Happy focusing, friends.
* The views expressed in this article are those of the author
s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LifeVantage or any other agency, organization, employer or company.
** LifeVantage’s Marketing team may from time to time publish blog articles reporting information and research from third-party sources. The views and opinions expressed by these third-party sources as reported in LifeVantage blog articles are those of the authors and experts quoted therein and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LifeVantage.