DEFEAT DISTRACTIONS WITH THESE 7 TIPS
Ours is an age of distraction. In this increasingly connected world, choices are endless and each moment has a multitude of things that demand our attention. While it’s great to have more choices, it also messes up a crucial thing – our ability to focus.
You sit at your desk, aiming to write that 2,000 words report by today. Yet, half an hour later you are looking at cute puppies online, and before you know it, several precious work hours are lost.
So how do you stop yourself from self-sabotaging? How to distract your brain away from distractions?
1. Break your goals down
One of the biggest reasons people get distracted is the enormity of the job at hand. When a goal looks overwhelming we (a) worry about failure and/or (b) keep fantasizing about the end result. Both can distract you away from the actual work at hand.
The trick is to break it down into smaller, easily doable tasks. To get through that report, focus on the first 200 words only. Once you are past that, focus of the next 200 words, and so on. Focus on getting a short amount done every single day, and by the end of month you won’t believe how far you have come!
2. Prioritize your tasks for the day
A multitude of tasks can also make us feel overwhelmed, and that’s where the need for distractions kicks in. Don’t try to do everything at once. Choose and prioritize. Think of all that you need to accomplish, pick out 2-3 (or any number you are comfortable) tasks for the day judging by their urgency or importance, and stick to completing them within time.
3. Treat yourself when you get a task done
Give yourself a reward, however small, every time you achieve a task from your list. It can be a cup of coffee, maybe just a stretch of leg or checking social media. It will help keep you focused on the task, instead of worrying about the goal.
4. Don’t stop when you hit a snag
You can’t find the right word, or a particular sum doesn’t add up. You keep stressing on that and before you know it your mind has wandered off towards those cute puppy videos. The trick is to catch it before it does. Give yourself a time limit for snags, and past that, plough on with the rest of the work. When you are done, come back to it. Chances are, you’ll find it a lot easier this time round.
5. Make your workspace distraction-free
- If you have a TV, work in a different room. If the internet distracts you, turn off the modem. If you need to be online for work, try turning off desktop alerts from websites.
- Separate work from the other areas of your life. For example, don’t take calls or check social media at your desk. Get up from your seat, go to another room, and then check your phone. Train your brain to associate the workstation only with work.
- Make it a place where you actually enjoy sitting. Choose an area with sunlight, hang photographs, de-clutter religiously. Your mind will start associating positive things with the workspace.
- Use white noise to drown out external noise that can distract you. It can be nature sounds, or light music. Stick to monotonous and soothing tunes for work, as complex sounds might disrupt your attention rather than stabilizing it.
6. Visualize yourself at work
Visualizing about actually WORKING (and not the end result) can be a great help. Say, you have to do the dishes. Start by imagining yourself entering the kitchen, then going to sink, picking up utensils one by one and so on. Focus completely on these visuals, and keep repeating the steps in your mind’s eye. Focusing so hard on the steps distracts you from the enormity of the task, and the visualization readies your brain for the task to come.
7. Take care of internal distractions
You can shut out external distractions easily enough. But internal ones like emotional upheaval or sustained anxiety are harder to combat. Tip 5 may help to a level, but it is important to introspect on your problems and get help if needed for a long-term solution. Be unafraid to make that choice.
Distractions are one of the greatest menaces to productivity in the modern world, and it is taking greater proportions as the world keeps changing every day. Following these tips can help keep your brain from losing its way in this fast-moving reality. Try them out today.