It’s a weekday and your plate is full. But, just when you’re about to start working on your tasks, you get a notification on your phone, and just like that, your focus goes for a toss. You read the message, but you don’t stop there. You begin scrolling through social media and proceed to check all the posts on your feed. Later, when you return to the task at hand, you realise the ideas you had for your task have vanished into thin air. It is important to learn how to overcome distractions so that you can focus on the task at hand.
According to research, “A typical manager is interrupted every eight minutes, and employees spend, on average, 28 percent of their time dealing with unnecessary interruptions and getting back on track.”
Today, everything demands your attention. You get a barrage of emails, texts, social media notifications, and sometimes, calls from friends when you are working. On top of this, you have sources of distractions that exist within yourself, such as fatigue, daydreaming, stress, and more—all of which end up interrupting your workflow and wasting your precious time. So, how would you deal with a distracted mind when you are surrounded by distractions?
Here are six strategies that can help you overcome distractions and reclaim your focus.
Prioritise your tasks
It is important for you to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve in the course of your day. So, prioritise your tasks accordingly. You can apply the Time Management Matrix, a self-management tool developed by the bestselling author Steven Covey. This system uses four different quadrants that allow you to prioritise your assignments as per their importance and urgency, helping you determine whether you can do the task immediately or later. Once you have figured it out, write down your tasks on your to-do list. But do not add more than three tasks, else you might get distracted. Now, all you have to do is follow through.
Set time slots
To overcome distractions, set aside a chunk of time for each assignment. Give yourself a time frame to complete your work, like a working deadline. When you know you have to complete your tasks within a certain time, you’ll find a way to do it. Doing so can also help minimise distractions and also increase your focus and your productivity.
Zen your phone
Just hearing your cell phone buzz can distract you from your work. Research from RescueTime, a time management tool, found that people spend an average of three hours and 15 minutes on their phones every day, with 20 percent of users spending more than four and a half hours. Thankfully, there are ways to deal with these kinds of distractions. You can install apps that can lock your social media platforms when you are working. These can help you concentrate and remove unwanted temptations. You will be able to create an environment that will help you focus on your work.
Monitor your thoughts
According to Harvard research, people spend nearly 50 percent of their waking hours “thinking about what isn’t going on”. The study found that this habit can lead to unhappiness. And when you are unhappy, your productivity takes a hit. So, it is important to notice when your mind is distracted in order to bring your attention back to the task at hand. Pay attention to your thoughts. Ask yourself the reason behind your reverie. This way, whenever you feel the urge to give in to distraction, you can make a conscious effort to stop yourself from indulging in it.
Get rid of external distractions
This is a simple way to learn how to overcome distractions. Just stay away from the things that divert your attention from the task at hand. If you are working from home, and are distracted by your television, then work in another room. If you are distracted by the kids running around the house, ask them not to disturb you when you’re working. Keep a time for everything. Once you do that, you will stay focused and productive.
Take on a difficult task
If you’re having a hard time focusing on your work, it could be because the task you are working on isn’t a challenging one. If that is the case, then take on a more stimulating task. Difficult tasks demand more attention. This means you won’t have the luxury to give in to distractions. Also, when your abilities are challenged, you feel more determined to succeed. You push your limits and become fully focused on completing that assignment, as that gives you a sense of achievement.