Are You Tired Of Being Constantly Distracted?
Thanks to today’s technology we are permanently connected. The reality is that it also gives us alternatives during the day to escape a task or a project we don’t feel so motivated to focus on, and it creates many occasions to be interrupted and distracted from where our attention should be.
We’ve all been there: even with the best of intentions to stay focused on work, we can’t help but check our emails every three minutes just in case we might miss something important; we see ourselves scrolling through social media and reading the news, and we grab our smartphone as soon as we hear a new notification.
How to take back control of your time and attention?
You’ve got meetings scheduled and a to-do list ready, you have a detailed plan in your head of what you need to accomplish today but eventually you can’t help it: distractions are real, they seem impossible to avoid, and you can’t even focus one hour straight. It is a fact: distractions cause a huge loss in productivity, and a lack of focus can have a negative impact on our work.
It is easy to blame others – our co-workers, our clients, the open-office structure, our smartphone and technology overall. But since those won’t change, it is up to you to re-organise your way of working and set the right environment up to optimise your concentration and bring your focus back.
Here are three easy strategies to implement that will help you overcome distractions, reclaim your focus, and transform your work day:
1. Use your calendar as your to-do list ?
In his article for Forbes, Kevin Kruse explains that he did his own research in time management and productivity, for which he had interviewed over 200 billionaires, Olympians, straight-A students and entrepreneurs. When he asked them to share their best productivity advice, surprisingly none of them mentioned a to-do list.
However, a common answer came back: the use of a calendar in which every task and event is scheduled. Does it ring the bell? At KosmoTime, we are strong believers (and active practitioners!) of the time blocking technique; actually it’s a topic we had previously covered.
Don’t get me wrong: the use of a calendar won’t magically delete all distractions and won’t make interruptions never happen. But – it does make you accountable and motivates you to follow a plan by knowing in advance what your next task is and how long it should take. You mentally prepare yourself as you know before starting a new task how long the run will be – maybe a quick 15-minute sprint, maybe a long full hour. Another huge advantage is that contrary to a to-do list, you have no other choice: you have scheduled a set time to work on one specific task. No more context switching!
At the end of the day, you may not have the satisfaction of seeing a few items crossed from a list… you get much more than that! You realise how much work you’ve accomplished, and you are capable of identifying for how long you were truly committed to your work.
2. Set one to three objectives each day ?
Staring at a long list of tasks to do can feel impossible and leave you quite overwhelmed. You are ready to give up before even starting, and this is exactly when temptations and distractions make their way in. To counterbalance this, give yourself one to three goals to accomplish before the end of each day. Either write them down, or if you follow my previous tip, create blocks in your calendar (one block per objective).
And if you are a KosmoTime calendar user, you can do even better! Start by creating a focus block per objective, and make them last two hours each. For instance here, you could end up with your Thursday looking like this: a first block titled ‘Marketing’ from 8.30am to 10.30am, followed by a second objective called ‘UX Research’ scheduled at 11am, and a third block dedicated to ‘Accounting’ that you plan to do in the afternoon.
Then, for each of your main objectives, the trick is to add related small tasks (< 30 minutes each) which will help you reach that main goal progressively.
By limiting the number of goals to three, you clearly define what you need to tackle in a day, you put greater intention on those tasks, and your mind will naturally be less tempted to wander.
3. Turn distraction-free mode on! ?
It sounds super obvious, doesn’t it? And yet, we are not many to actually take action! Start by building new habits that help you erase distractions and stay focused. How? Identify what in your environment can tempt you and take you away from what you are supposed to be working on.
Is it noise surrounding you? Nowadays, it’s common to work in an open office structure or from a co-working space. To stimulate concentration and get your focus on, put on noise-canceling headphones or isolate yourself whenever possible if you are about to start a long task that requires your full attention. Don’t be afraid to turn off your phone – not just on silent mode – and place it away from you so you are not tempted to look at it every five minutes and get distracted by the notifications. I personally prefer silence, but many people can actually find their focus while listening to music. If that’s your thing, you’ll find great focus music playlists on YouTube and Spotify.
Many of us rely on the Internet to do our work and that’s where we usually find our biggest distractions: pro and personal emails, messages and notifications, the news and social media popping up, online shopping, and so on. If you often find yourself wandering from one webpage to another – either procrastinating or multitasking – then it’s time to use a tab manager and website blocker app!
When we built KosmoTime, with the mission of becoming the calendar of the future in mind, we wanted to bring our users the ability to get in the zone as easily as possible, and so we created the Focus features:
– One is the Tab Manager that closes all unrelated tabs when you start working on a task
– And the other one is the Mute Mode, which blocks Slack notifications and distracting websites.
If you find yourself easily distracted, just try them out: it will help you bring the focus back and stay in the zone. Without a doubt, you’ll quickly notice a huge change in your productivity.
THE BOTTOM LINE
When you feel tired of being constantly distracted at work and you find it difficult to focus, then start by removing as many excuses and distractions as possible. Bring your full attention to one task at a time, and remember those three steps:
– Use your calendar and adopt the time blocking method
– Set one-to-three main goals a day by creating focus blocks
– Take actions by creating a distraction-free environment