Everyone gets distracted. It’s a fact of life. But you don’t have to get derailed by them. You can choose to take control and manage all the things you know will make you take your eye off the main game. Here are five expert tips to keep distractions at bay.
1. Schedule your Time to Suit You
Are you a morning person? Or do you work better later in the day? Only you know when you’re at your best, so program your day to take account of your energy peaks and troughs. If you don’t really wake up until mid-morning, schedule those mindless tasks for first thing. Conversely, if you’re a lark and are up and sparky before dawn, that’s a good time to schedule more complex or creative projects.
2. Use a Web-blocker
Social media, news sites, and your favorite websites can be hard to resist. Just a peek can become hours of scrolling before you know it. If you're easily tempted to surf the net, try using an app that blocks nominated websites so that you can get on with your work uninterrupted.
3. Turn off Notifications
Do you need to know whenever someone has liked one of your social media posts? You can turn off notifications or switch off the volume on your phone to stop those annoying and distracting 'pings.' You can also set your phone to 'do not disturb' so you can focus on what you need to get done and catch up with phone calls and emails at a time that suits you.
4. Shut out Your Colleagues’ Chat
Even the best colleagues can be distracting if they’re in chatty mode while you’re trying to get through your to-do list. Part of the problem with modern open-plan offices is that it looks like you’re always available. Using a pair of headphones sends a signal that you’re focused on something important right now and shouldn’t be interrupted.
5. Reset Your Brain
If you’re like most people, you’ve become accustomed to a certain level of constant distraction. Increased usage of smartphones and the internet means that you probably spend a lot of time flicking from one website to another. Social media posts are short and must be punchy to grab your attention.
Scientists have found that people’s attention spans are getting shorter. And that can be a problem if you’re studying or working on a big or long-term task.
But you can retrain your brain to focus. Notice when you’re starting to get distracted and pull your mind back into line. Practice meditation and mindfulness and make a conscious commitment to getting a better balance between short-term attention and deep focus.