Do you ever have those days where you don’t seem to get anything done? Distractions are something that we all encounter from time to time, destroying our focus and often impacting our ability to get our work done.
In recent times we have become very good at inventing things that on the face of it, have been designed to make our lives easier and more productive, but in truth they often have the opposite effect. The internet, email and social media are prime examples of this trend. Distractions can also come in the human form being disguised as work colleagues, friends and even family members and all before we take into account self-imposed distractions, such as a lack of concentration, tiredness and just generally allowing our minds to wander.
In this article we will look at how we can use the technology of today in a way that is constructive without falling victim to its distractive qualities?
The strategies outlined below, if implemented on a daily basis, will help you to become both effective and efficient.
Set time limits and use a timer.
Do you find that checking email starts off as a 5 minute task and ends up taking 30 minutes of your time? or perhaps you have been doing some work related research and found yourself in explicably looking at holiday sites. We can improve our ability to focus by setting ourselves time limits. Ideally use the Pomodoro Technique, set a timer and work for periods of 25 minutes and have a 5 minute break at the end of every period. Using a timer will help you to focus on the task at hand. You may even find that you feel more relaxed as you’ll be focused on one thing and one thing only. Setting time limits and using a timer will serve as a reminder and will force you to only check the most important things.
Close everything that isn’t needed.
Have a look at your screen now, how many windows or applications do you have open and how distracting are they? When concentrating on a task, close down everything on your computer that isn’t required for the task at hand. This includes all your email, social media and all the notifications associated with them, games, and blogs, in addition switch off your mobile and tablet. This may come as a surprise to you but when you switch everything back on you will find that all your messages will still be there when you’re done. One of the keys to being more effective is eliminating the things that make us less effective.
Focus on priorities for 10 seconds.
When trying to change your habits, you will have times when you will have an incredible urge to check your email, Facebook, or Twitter accounts. Don’t worry this is normal, however before you succumb to this urge, take 10 seconds and ask yourself if what you are about to do more important than the task you are currently focused on.
For many people the ability to focus has been largely lost. However, these habits if implemented, will go a long way to improving your focus and effectiveness at any task. It will be challenging at first, but you can do it. You can get more done, in less time, by learning to improve your focus and avoiding the things that waste your precious time.
Put these three habits into play starting today. You’ll be impressed by how much more you can get done!
In the next article we will talk about how to deal with human distractions.
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Till Next Time
Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor