No matter how mellow you might happen to be, it can be difficult to focus on the work before you – particularly when it is something that you don’t like doing. Unfortunately, your productivity can be derailed by even a brief distraction. The following 10 tips can help you take care of business and focus when you really need it the most.
Make A Schedule For Your Day
All of us have certain hours in the day when we are able to get into the zone a bit easier. In order to gives yourself an advantage, schedule as much of your important work during those times. I have also discovered that scheduling my to-do list out helps me stay focused and on task, whether that is remembering to eat my lunch before 3 pm or meeting a deadline.
Go Full Screen
All of us tend to think we multitask better than we do. When you really need to get something done, try blocking out all distractions as possible on your screen. You can use a distraction-free writing tool such as Q10 that goes into full screen mode. If you are unable to do that, at least try to eliminate extra windows, icons, and unnecessary desktop clutter. The fewer things that are open, the better you will be able to focus.
Hide or Block Distracting Apps and Websites
Parental controls are not only for naughty children – they also come in handy for distracted adults to use. Are you having a hard time staying off Facebook as you are working? Uninstall it off of your phone or delete the bookmark on your browser. You can also set up a separate work browser profile, or – for a more drastic solution – an extension like StayFocused (Chrome) or LeechBlock (Firefox) can be used to block distracting sites.
Mute Excessive Notifications
For apps like email that cannot be uninstalled, you can decide at least whether or not you actually need notifications for every single thing. Considering turning the notifications off on your email – you don’t need to check each time you get a new one anyway. Or, at least, use a silent ringtone (or completely silence your phone) when you need to get your work done.
Track How You Are Spending Your Time
There are many different types of distractions. Sometimes it isn’t cat pictures or Tetris or Facebook, but your actual work. There are certain tasks that are not as important as other ones, and if you spend more of your time on those tasks, then they should be treated as distractions from work that you really should be doing instead. If you are not sure where all of the time in your day is going, use a time tracker such as RescueTime which will tell you the amount of time you are spending on a given website or app. You might discover that you are wasting time in all of the wrong places – even if you feel like you are working hard.
Keep Distracting Co-Workers Under Control
The real world, of course, produces many distractions. If you are working in an office, then most likely you have had an occasional chatty coworker that you have had to deal with, people with questions that don’t need answers right away, and other types of distracting issues. Having a decent pair of headphones really can go a long way to tell people that you are working very hard right now. However, if that doesn’t solve the problem, then you might need to be more direct with them and tell them that you are busy (and if even that doesn’t help, try giving them something to do – that might make them think twice before they visit you in the future). For more ideas see our guide on distracting coworkers.
Put Off Your Distractions For A Later Time
If you are unable to stop distractions from grabbing your attention, you at least can prevent them from wasting your time right now. Have a “procrastination pad” on your desk (or computer) so that you can write down notes about incoming distractions. Or, distracting elements can be moved to a table or another device.
Break Your Tasks Down
Getting distracted is so easy (or avoiding getting started) whenever the task before you seems way too big. So, if you are attempting to get motivated for a big project head, then try breaking it down into small chunks. It is much easier to get motivated to do concrete, small tasks, than jumping into one large one. One thing that is really good for this is the Pomodoro Technique. All you need is a timer.
Train Your Brain How To Focus
It doesn’t matter how much you do to block out distracting websites, or block external stimuli out with headphones, your own worst enemy can still be your brain. So, if your brain continues jumping from one thought to the next when there is work for you to do, then you need to learn how to better control it. At times you just need to pay attention to your own attention and catch the wrong impulse before they start to take hold. To gain some momentum, often you just need to get started on a task. Meditating on a regular basis can also go a very long way.
Focus can also be helped with nootropics. These smart drugs as they are often known can help improve your mind and body functions. It’s hard to know where to start with nootropics as it really depends on where you feel you’re lacking. However Piracetam is known to be a great help for those that want to improve cognitive abilities, while CDP Choline is great for mental energy. If you want a better idea of what could work for you take a look below at the infographic on Nootropics.
Don’t Go Overboard: Remember That Distractions Are An Essential Aspect of Productivity
Task at hand can be really be derailed when there is a distraction that comes at the wrong time. However, that doesn’t mean you need to have perfect focus 24/7. Procrastination and distraction, in fact, are critical to healthy living, and can also encourage creative thinking. It has been shown by studies that browsing the web while you are at work can help you be more productive – if you do it at the proper times. So rather than allowing your brain to distract you while you are doing something important, instead schedule certain times for procrastination in addition to everything else. It will give you a break from your work in addition to helping you get the distractions out of your way, and you will have something to look forward to while pushing through that final task before your break.