Need to focus but just can’t make it happen? Here are 6 tips to eliminate distractions and get you on a productive path.
1. Smartphone – According to Deloitte, the average person checks his/her phone 46 times per day. Assuming you sleep for six hours a night that averages out to checking your phone 2.5 times an hour. That’s a lot of interruptions. Most people are looking at the phone out of habit not necessity. Knock it off.
2. Computer – Whether it dings every time you get an email (you should turn that off) or just sits there tempting you, there’s no end to the distractions a computer offers. Shut down windows and programs except the task you’re working on. Try an app you can download that prevents you from accessing the internet when you should be doing something else. It’s called StayFocusd (and that’s not a typo). Check it out.
3. People – Stopping by your office to chat, (or family members invading your work area while you’re working from home) instant messaging, colleagues calling every half hour to get an answer they need to keep their project moving forward. When you need to focus, let people know you’re not available for a short time. Shut your door, turn the ringer down on your phone, block focus time on your calendar so it’s clear you’re busy. Schedule quick morning and afternoon check-ins so you can answer questions in batches.
4. Overwhelm – Too many tasks, too many projects, too many commitments, too many deadlines, too many ideas. I’ve long said that it’s vital to develop the ability to choose. Until you can choose and be comfortable with your choice, you’ll always have too many things vying for your attention.
5. Disorganization – Maybe your desk, or your To Do list or a lack of systems is what is disorganized. Maybe all three. Physical disorganization creates mental disorganization. If you need to focus right now you may need to move everything off of your desk. Ignore everything else on your To Do list and focus on the one thing demanding your attention right now.
6. You – Being tired, hungry, thirsty, too full, overly caffeinated or hepped up on sugar make a dramatic difference in your ability to focus. Be mindful of how you are managing your own energy and food/beverage choices. Make small changes and see what happens. Once you know what your ideal physical state is you’ll be better able to make sure you’re in that state when you need to be.