Cell phones, TV, our own thoughts, social media, scrolling…scrolling…scrolling…and more scrolling. There are so many ways that we can be distracted throughout the day. I’ve concluded that the world is set up to distract us – every. Single. Day. Is it not?
If you have not thought about it, picture this – you are working through a project, and your phone rings. You take the call, but when you get back to your project, your phone notifies you of an update. Of course, you have already been distracted, so your focus is less than when you started. You take a peek at your phone to see that your friend put up a new Instagram post about something fun she did over the weekend. Soooo…of course you just have to look. Meanwhile, how far have you gotten with your project?
This has happened to all of us at some point or another. I’m pretty confident in saying that statement. It’s certainly happened to me before. So how do we stay focused when the world is against us? I’ve got some tips today.
Focus Tip #1 – Plan Ahead
Now, a lot of people say you should plan your day the night before. Personally, I like to plan my day first thing in the morning. In fact, it’s the first item in my morning routine. I pull out my bullet journal and plan out all the things I want to get done on a given day. Bullet points work very well.
For me, planning first thing in the morning keeps it fresh for me. I don’t like to spend a lot of time talking about or writing about doing anything. I just want to get things done. So, if I planned my day the night before, I feel like I would be thinking about the next day all night. That would be as bad as spending time talking about or writing about doing things.
Either way, you do what works for you. If planning the night before helps you stay focused today, then do it! If planning first thing in the morning works for you, then do that. Either way, the key is to plan.
Focus Tip #2 – Limit Distractions
In our world these days, a large distraction is our cell phone. How many times do you look at your phone during the day? Probably more times than you care to count. Do yourself a favor and go into your settings and turn on the Do Not Disturb. I dare you…just do it. It will keep your phone quiet for the time you need. I promise, you can turn that off when you need.
Next, look around your work environment. What else might distract you? Do you have a TV on in the room? Does the talking bother you? Will certain words make you turn and look at the TV (taking your eyes off your work)? If so, turn the TV off.
In the same element, do you need white noise to help stay focused? Sometimes I turn on a fan to break the loud silence. I often turn on Spotify and set it to one of the many focus channels and let that play in the background. Oh! And I notice that if I have upbeat music on, I type a little faster.
Focus Tip #3 – Eat the Frog
Oh, that just sounds gross. Basically, what this term means is that you do the hard thing first. When you look at your task list for the day, what is the one item that will take the most time to complete? What is the item that you dread the most? Or, what is the item that will need the most brain power to complete? That is the item you should get done first. So yeah, eat the frog!
Now if you enjoy eating frogs, that analogy means nothing to you, I know. But – read the rest of that paragraph – you get the idea.
Focus Tip #4 – The Pomodoro Method
Interesting name = Interesting method
The Pomodoro Method is a specific way of working. You work on a task with no interruptions for a whole 25 minutes. Then you allow yourself a quick break. I typically refill my water glass, take a quick walk somewhere (it might be the bathroom as much as I refill a water glass), sit on the front porch for a couple of minutes, or I might check my phone for notifications. Whatever you do, it can’t be related to work. The idea is to give your brain a break a few minutes and recharge for the next 25 minutes of full focus.
Complete the method for four cycles and then allow yourself a longer brain break. Then begin again with four more cycles. Throughout the workday, you can stay focused (because you know you have a break coming up soon), get more done, and avoid the afternoon slump.
You can use a simple kitchen timer, a time cube, or as I’ve found even easier, an online timer found here. You even get to pick out the sound you want to hear when time’s up. I warn you in advance – the alarm is alarming. The first time I tried that, I jumped when it went off. Since then, I don’t use that setting. I do love that you have a choice, though.
Focus Tip #5 – Remember Your Why
Stay focused by remembering what you want to get done, and more importantly why. It can be a simple as “This is my least favorite task, so let’s just get it done” or it can be “When I get this project completed, it will change the world!” Whatever the why, keep it front and center, and it will help you focus that much more on getting the task done.
We all know life is not easy. We also know that we must do more difficult things from time to time. Remember why we want to do something will help us stay on task and get us through to the end.
Okay! Those are my five tips to help you stay focused.
Question of the Day: What distracts you the most? What is your #1 tip for staying focused? Share it in the comments section below, so we can all learn and stay focused together.
Now I think I need to re-read this now and again to remind myself of these tips as I work through a rather large project of my own.
Now This Is Moore Like It!