If your life is anything like mine, then you are constantly being pulled in ten different directions.
It’s so important to master learning how to avoid distractions (and a great high-income skill to possess). So, as a pharmacist, online entrepreneur, and mom of three, I get it. You need to get into focus, but that’s easier said than done. You need to have a little upfront preparation.
Here are the biggest offenders when it comes to distractions (how many are on your list?!)
If you’re looking for a little motivation to reduce these distractions, here are my top eight actionable tips to increase your productivity and stay focused.
How To Avoid Distractions With These 8 Hacks
1. Carve Out “Deep Work” Time With Digital Planners
This may seem obvious, but if you have an important task you need to complete, then you need to carve out time for it.
The trick? You need to make more concrete plans by choosing a specific timeframe and location.
Vague planning won’t cut it. Here are some bad examples and how you can improve them.
|More Effective Way
|“Tomorrow, I’ll study after school.”
|Tomorrow, between 4 and 6 pm, I will study Chapters 7, 8, and 9 in a reserved study room.
|“I’ll finish the XYZ project by Friday.”
|Tomorrow, I will execute this subtask of XYZ project from 8-10 am in my office prior to the 10 am meeting.
Hopefully, you can see that the right column is much more intentional, which helps minimize your own mental roadblocks, as well as setting yourself up to minimize any external distractions.
Some Other Useful Tips
Now, some people are truly great at staying focused on the task they need to accomplish by just making a mental note of it. I, for one, am not that person and will find an hour has passed without any true work being done.
2. “Focus Mode” On Your Phone Or Screen Time Blocking Apps
What is the greatest source of distractions? I’m sure you’ve probably guessed it, but it’s your phone or any electronic device you may use (even your smartwatch).
We all know the common offenders (phone calls, emails, text messages, push notifications), so you need to place your phone on focus mode.
Pro Tip: Create a custom focus mode and share it with your contacts so they know not to bother you unless it’s an emergency. You can also set boundaries by only allowing certain numbers to come through (school lines, spouse, etc.) to minimize people distracting you.
Each time you’re distracted for even 1/10th of a second (aka each time your phone dings), you can lose 40% of productivity.Havard Business Review, Productivity Quotes
Now, repeat that statistic to yourself again and again.
When You’re The Problem
Thanks to tech, our attention span is getting shorter and shorter. And I’ll admit, when my phone is sitting there, I love to check my phone every ten minutes or so when I don’t want to work on my task at hand or just feel like I’m afraid I’m missing out on something. But this is not helpful when you’re trying to achieve healthy work-life integration.
This is where I highly recommend getting a screen time or screen-blocking app. I tested one out and was appalled at how much time I spent checking into social media, and I realized how much it distracted my day-to-day.
So, if you’re someone who needs a little help to maintain focus like I do, I recommend checking out one of those tools as well.
3. Create The Optimal Work Environment
Your work environment is so critical for minimizing distractions, and your work environment is often going to dictate the types of distractions you have to deal with. Here are some tips for each of your working situations.
…If you have your own office.
Shut the office door to minimize how many people may be popping in and out for a “quick chat” that could otherwise wait. I know that many people like to encourage an “open door policy” to foster increased communication, but there’s a time and a place for that.
You could also just leave the door cracked; that way, people know you’re available, but it’s not an open invitation.
…If you’re working in an open office plan.
This makes it a bit harder to stop people from walking up and interrupting your flow.
My go-to trick for this is putting on visible, large, noise-canceling headphones. I say big because a lot of times people won’t notice tiny headphones like Airpods. But if they see the large, over-the-ear options, usually they will think twice before interrupting you.
…Working From Home.
Obviously, having a home office is going to minimize the most distractions. But if this is not an option, try and choose a work spot in the home away from the rest of the clutter.
I used to work in the kitchen and realized that was a huge problem not because of all the background noise, but because I instantly saw five things I needed to do. Whether it was cleaning up breakfast or loading the dishwasher, the main house increased my anxiety.
So, find a spot that doesn’t overlook the daily mess to help you maintain some type of control of your space.
4. Use Music or White Noise
Whether you’re in a noisy environment or not, I found that having positive music helps me get into the zone and just gives a great overall boost to my energy levels.
If anything, it will help you want to be less distracted.
If you don’t love music, I still recommend a bit of background noise. Complete silence can actually be distracting because you will quickly notice any other noise made.
5. Set Yourself Up With Food & Beverages
Don’t give yourself a reason to get up when your stomach starts grumbling. Get those snacks armed and ready.
Since I’m a morning person, I am stacked with my ice water, hot coffee, and cold coffee for a few hours from now. Then I have some trail mix and a breakfast bar at my disposal.
6. Single Tasking With Highest Priority Item First
Remember, you’re not multi-tasking; you’re task-switching.
Before I needed a big boost in productivity, I would constantly switch from emails to articles to ordering a kid’s birthday present within ten minutes. And before I knew it, I didn’t get any real work done that needed to be done.
So figure out what are the top three things you need to accomplish that day, choose the hardest task, and make sure to schedule it during your deep work time when you have made every possible move to avoid interruptions.
Prioritizing your work is critical. You want to be intentional with your time.
7. Do Not Check Emails Unless Absolutely Necessary
By and large, the majority of emails are one major distraction. On average, people check their email fifteen times per day, which is anything but helpful.
Unless you know that you are expecting a super important email that will need a quick turnaround, I push back checking any emails for the day until after I’ve completed at least 3 hours of intense work.
Trust me; this one was a huge game-changer for me personally. I have not had any negative consequences of pushing this back until pre-lunch time.
8. Use Breaks As A Reward
Many of us love to take a short break. But what happens is that “innocent” break stretches to a longer break? And then suddenly, you’ve lost all hope of staying on track.
So, look at taking breaks as a reward for doing good work. I will usually tell myself, “I can go take a 10 minute phone break once I’ve completed this XYZ.” Not only does it help you minimize your own distractions, but hopefully it will jolt your productivity because the faster you complete a task, the faster you get some “you” time.
Last Food For Thought
If you’re reading this article and you’re supposed to be doing something right now, then this article in itself is serving as a distraction. While I appreciate you making it through to the end, cancel out these tabs and get working!