One of the hardest things for me in my goal to be more productive is hands-down, distractions. It’s so easy to become distracted when my mind starts to wander or I’m working on something difficult and I find myself losing focus. This article will address some distractions we all face and how to deal with them.
1) Social Media
Social media is probably one of the most distracting things in my life right now. Getting notifications on my phone, computer, and being drawn into Facebook and other platforms when I’m simply just bored or not challenging myself. We all can get sucked in and before we know it, an hour has passed and we’ve done nothing productive. It’s a total waste. While I won’t ever throw out social media altogether, I find limiting the distraction in creative ways is helpful.
- Use the Pomodora Technique to set up times that you check social media. For instance, set aside 25 minutes to work on one task and then take a 5 minute social media break. Use an app to time it so you don’t get sucked in longer than 5-10 minutes.
- Make sure you don’t have browser notifications. I had a notification on Chrome and I had to turn it off. Also turn off email notifications if that is something that causes you to be distracted.
- Check emails, facebook, and other apps during non-productive times to ensure you get your tasks done.
2) Phone Usage
Another distraction is my phone. I have a smart phone that likes to tell me every time a person comments to me on Facebook. It also notifies me of text messages and emails. Also, anyone can contact me at anytime for anything. So when I’m aiming to get things done, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Turn your phone on silent – If you are able to do this at work, this would be your best option during times when you don’t want to be distracted.
- Turn off the notifications in settings – Do we really need to be notified every single time someone leave a comment under our posted photo? No. If you like being notified, then silence the phone while you work instead.
- Let calls go to voicemail if they aren’t important – I do this all the time, but I don’t have a job that requires me to answer my phone. They can leave a message if it’s important and I will call back during a time I’m not trying to focus. If the phone ringing is a hindrance, turn the phone on silent as I mentioned previously.
3) The Essentials Are Lacking
Are you tired, hungry, or bored? Here are some tips that will help you stay focused in the essential areas of sleep, hunger, and boredom.
- Make sleep a priority. Don’t look at your phone a few hours before bed as this tricks your brain into producing chemicals that make it think you need to be awake.
- If you have trouble falling asleep, try a warm bath with magnesium flakes or Epsom. These are relaxing. The Epsom also comes in scents like peppermint that help you to calm your body and mind down.
- Eat properly and have snacks available near where you work so you don’t get hungry. Be sure to eat healthy foods instead of loading up on caffeine and sugar, which causes crashes and sleepiness.
- If you find yourself being bored, set some goals and rewards. For instance, set a goal for 4 sets of 25 minutes of productivity (use 5 minute breaks in between to walk around or go to the bathroom). After the 4 sets, reward yourself with a walk, a cookie, or whatever helps you stay motivated.
- Play music to stave off boredom.
- Use essential oils and a diffuser to help with alertness. Citrus essential oils like orange and lemon help with feeling more awake.
4) People Interruptions
I have kids so I can’t completely control my distractions. Someone needs something. Someone is calling for an “emergency” (which never is really as bad as it seems). Sometimes someone just needs me. My family comes first. So I have to learn to balance my reaction to being interrupted. If you find your family or others are not respecting your time, you might want to set some time limits and boundaries giving them a heads up about what you expect. For instance, telling them that you will be busy in the morning but have some free time later to spend with them. If you truly need to get things done, consider a babysitter or asking your spouse for help for a few hours. Every family is different so set the boundaries that work for your family.
Did you know that trying to multi-task is actually a waste of time? It has been studied extensively and experts are now saying that multi-tasking is less productive and causes more errors. It is estimated that $650 billion a year is wasted in the United States in business because of multi-tasking. The brain has a hard time switching around from task to task, so the better option is to focus on one task for an amount of time then take breaks when needed. This is much more effective.
6) Overthinking & Wandering Thoughts
When I have too much to do and too much going on in my life, I tend to be distracted by my own thoughts. Things that have helped me is write down everything that I’m worried about on paper. You can try the Brain Dump method as well and go a step further to organize those thoughts into tasks. The point is, it’s important to take 20 minutes or so to clear your mind. If that doesn’t help, I suggest talking to someone whether it is a friend, a spouse, or a counselor. Sometimes you just need a listening ear to help you sort out your own thoughts and then you feel better and can get things done.
Eliminate Distractions for Creativity
If you think about it, distractions can cause us to be less creative. We are sucked into an online world, other people’s lives, or our own anxieties causing us to feel unbalanced and lacking creativity. It’s important to nail down what is distracting and then attack it with a plan. If you haven’t downloaded my Brain Dump worksheet and read about the Pomodoro method, I suggest you start there. Be sure to also sign up for my emails to get more freebies. I will be posting in the future about goal setting as I think it’s super important as a creative being to also be organized and set goals.