How to Decrease Distractions
It’s the new year, the new month, the new week. You’ve resolved to get more done for sure. Maybe the secret shame of spending 2 hours on Instagram or PokemonGo has spurred you into a new determination to cut out distraction and increase your productivity.
There are many reasons why we find distractions everywhere. With the dawn of the internet, followed with smartphones, distractions are painfully easy to find. Just a click, tap, or swipe away. We might get distracted because we are bored, lonely, addicted to an app, or just craving a break. Increasing our mindfulness and making a real commitment to productivity is essential to battling the ever present distractions that surround us.
The first step to buckling down is to actually tell yourself that you are about to concentrate. This extra step may seem silly, but being specific, mindful, and determined focuses you. It puts you in the zone, which makes it harder for distractions to break in.
Another way to physically focus yourself is to write a To-Don’t list. A list of all the things that you don’t want to do while you’re trying to get your work done. This is where you can list all the things that distract you from working: Email, cell phone, social media, talking to collegues, etc.
If apps, emails, or Facebook are on your to-don’t list, turn off your cell phone. Pause your notifications, especially on your email. You may be tempted to keep email on because it’s technically “work” but email is usually our number one distraction because it feels legitimate. Unless your task is to empty out your email inbox, get off your email, and turn off your notifications.
A great way to cull distractions is to find a way to balance working alone or in a group. Depending on the task it might be appropriate to work in a group. When working on a group, a great way to stay on task is to set a time limit and designate a person to “raise a flag” every time the group digresses topics.
When you need to work on an individual task and you know that your chatty desk mate loves to use you as their distraction, you can find gentle ways to avoid that distractions without feeling like a jerk. Try coming in early before the office fills up. This quiet time can be the perfect opportunity to get work done. If you have the option to work from home some of the time, schedule your tasks that need the highest concentration for that time, and avoid the office.
If that’s not available to you, you can always ask your coworker to be your “productivity watchdog” and ask them to field off other coworkers for a set time-frame. This way they know that you don’t want to be distracted, but instead of singling them out as a distraction you’re enlisting their help. This is a collaborative way to turn a distraction into a focusing aid. You’ll also have the added social motivation of making sure that you get work done, since your colleague will be aware of your goal.
Once you have made your plan, it’s a good idea to “schedule” your distraction times. Set a timer, say for ten minutes, and then pick a reward–coffee break with a coworker, check your Facebook, read an interesting article–whatever you’ve been itching to do, but successfully avoided during your concentration time.
The problem with planning out our distractions, is that we can get distracted on our way to planning. Make you intention visible. Write down your list of To-Don’t and put it some place you can see. When you next sit down to work, take a few deep breaths and set an intention for that period: what do you hope to accomplish and what do you plan to avoid? Over coming distractions is entirely possible if you approach it in a mindful, deliberate way. So stop distracting yourself with this article, and get to accomplishing your goals!