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7 tips to stay focused in the digital era

It is difficult to imagine life without the internet. There are smart devices and applications that make everything accessible, and rather easy. A single tap of the finger can have a wealth of knowledge at your disposal. ‘Online’ is the new go-to whether you need medical advice, technical solutions, news updates, or even new friends. With so many opportunities and possibilities, it is safe to say the digital era has changed the world as we know it. Over the years, we have become increasingly dependent on the internet to make life convenient. Courtesy the internet, the average person is more well-informed and in tune with the world at large, more than ever before. But as they say, no gain comes without pain. The average person is also the most distracted in the digital era, with technology making it increasingly difficult for them to stay focused. Being on this information highway means sacrificing time and mental bandwidth.

With social media and mobile applications vying for your attention 24/7, focus and productivity have hit a new low. According to recent research, a person’s attention is depleted just by having a smartphone in sight. Another report reveals that around 2.35 hours are spent on social media at work every day, which leads to a 13 percent loss in total productivity.

So how does one regain the lost focus and get more productive? Let’s look at a few tips to tackle digital distractions while making the best use of this ocean of information and connection in the digital era.

Disconnect periodically

Your need to check notifications constantly tethers you to your smart devices. It may seem harmless, but the continuous interruptions can keep you from giving your full attention to your task at hand and make it difficult for you to stay focused. It can affect your productivity, and worse, your health as well. According to research by Gloria Mark, who studies digital distraction at the University of California, distractions can often lead to stress, pressure, and frustration.

This is where learning to periodically and systematically unplug comes in. For starters, commit to spending at least an hour or two away from your digital devices, then slowly work yourself up from there. This might seem unviable at first, but the key to making this work is to commit to your decision and stick to it.

Keep track of your screen time

Many people spend a large part of their day staring at their phones, clicking, and browsing. To add perspective, according to recent research, the average smartphone user checks their device 63 times a day, while 69 percent of them check their phones within five minutes of waking up in the morning. While the number seems appalling, there are ways in which you can effectively limit your screen time. Most of your devices can tell you how much time you are spending on each app, and you can regulate your usage by enforcing time limits. It will allow you to receive a notification when you have exceeded your limit. Such reminders can make you aware of your usage, and help you take steps to reduce it.

Set a goal for the day

At work, meeting a deadline can be particularly challenging when you are constantly distracted. Continuous browsing with an impending task at hand not only diverts your attention but also makes you lose precious time, sometimes, without you realising it. This can be avoided by setting a clear goal for the day—turn off the notifications when you are working and check them only after your tasks are completed. By setting such goals, you avoid distractions and maintain your focus on what’s ahead. This not only makes you a better time manager but more productive too.

Sleep tight

Do you experience difficulty in concentrating because of your thoughts being scattered or muddled up? If yes, then you are probably suffering from a lack of adequate sleep. According to  , sleep deprivation leads to lower concentration and hampers your ability to focus. And one of the major reasons for lack of sleep is the use of electronic devices until late hours. As per Sleep Health Foundation, the bright light from smart devices blocks the release of melatonin, or the sleep hormone, making it difficult for people to fall asleep.

We can all agree with how imperative sleeping is to our physical as well as mental wellbeing. When you get a good night’s sleep, not only does your body feel active and recharged, but you also focus for a longer period of time, without getting distracted. Make a habit of keeping your phone away, for at least two hours, before bedtime.

Avoid the temptation

As the day goes by, the motivation to finish your chores sometimes begins to diminish. Unwittingly, your focus shifts to your phone where tons of messages and alerts wait for your attention. But don’t give in to this temptation. If you are bored or tired, take a break and spend your time efficiently, perhaps, on reading, exercising, or cooking. Killing time by scrolling through your feed will only make you procrastinate more.

Keep a to-do list

Maintaining a to-do list of tasks is the simplest, yet the most effective tool in ensuring a steady focus in the digital era. It makes sure that all your tasks are written down in one place, and this gives you a more organised approach, by helping you keep track of your time and focus on important things. Making a to-do list not only helps you plan better for the day but also makes you accountable and efficient.

Plan your online activities

Make sure that you schedule some ‘online time’ for yourself every day, where you allow yourself to play games on the internet, scroll through social media, or chat with your friends. However, make sure that you do not exceed the allotted time. This not only keeps you less distracted but also helps you utilise your time more judiciously.

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