September 9, 2016
How To Stay Focused in a Digitally Ecstatic World
How to stay focused is a modern dilemma to many a man or woman, given the noise and busyness in our surroundings. At work, you may be distracted by the activities in the cubes next to you, the voices in your workspaces, the telephone ringing, someone’s radio, the internet on your monitors, and the continual stream of emails coming your way. If you are a social media addict, staying grounded and on task is especially challenging.
The people, customer and co-worker distractions may be, to some extent, out of your control. Time management and reducing the digital noise, however, IS something you can easily manage with a few simple changes in your daily routines.
Here are some great real-world tips on keeping grounded and focused so that you can be the productive whiz you can and should be.
1. Windows Management
When on your computer, close windows as you complete tasks. You’ll be less tempted to return to them, pick at them and be distracted by them. Plus, you’ll give yourself a little sense of accomplishment by closing (completing) the task.
2. The Sound of Music
If radio and music is distracting you, work in silence. It isn’t bad having a blank mental slate to work with. Silence is peaceful and grounding. Be really honest with yourself about whether listening to music is actually helping you stay focused or if it is interfering with your ability to concentrate.
3. Hide Your Toys
Hide your toys from yourself – including digital devices, windup toys and action figures. It’s too tempting to play with them. At the very least, put them up high where you’ll have to stand up and reach, or otherwise go out of your way to play with them. If that doesn’t work, keep them in your car. You’ll be okay without them.
4. Eliminate the Bounciness
Make yourself a schedule so you aren’t randomly bouncing from task to task. Whether you call it ADD or it’s simply a symptom of modernity, bouncing around a lot is generally not conducive to productivity. Plan, be still, schedule and proceed.
5. Love Social Media Sometimes
If you love social media, dedicate some time each day for your fix and stick to your schedule. They’ll still be there when you get to them. Promise. Dedicated social time reduces the amount of time you check in during the day, making you more focused for other tasks.
6. Lists Are Your Friend
Start each work day with a list of things to do (this is good advice for homemakers, students and people who work outside the home). Prioritize your tasks with numbers or letters and congratulate yourself as you complete each task.
7. Schedule Like Tasks Together
If possible, schedule like tasks together as you can more easily stay in a rhythm as you work. Example, group visual tasks together as your brain functions differently when processing visual information than it does for writing or math.
8. The Natural Rhythm of Concentration
It may be advisable to begin each work day with your more complicated and creative tasks, leaving more mundane ones for later when your focus will naturally begin to wane.
9. When to Email
Dedicate some time each day to answer emails. Maybe read them first thing in the morning to catch the previous day’s late emails and again a half hour before you leave work. Reducing the number of interruptions will help you stay focused throughout the day.
If you find yourself really struggling, take a break and do some deep breathing to try to engage your parasympathetic nervous system. Do this also if you’re stressed. A quick walk is also a good way to empty your head and connect with nature, or concrete, whichever is available.
As you will see when you implement these ideas, limiting exposure to distractions by reserving specific times to complete tasks is hugely beneficial in helping you stay focused and productive throughout your day. When you reduce digital clutter in your life, you’re likely to notice other improvements as well, including your interactions with people and possibly even your health, as so much of our wellness has to do with the physical world around us, including what we eat, how we communicate and our ability to listen and be present for ourselves and others.
Also see: How to Improve Your Office and Decluttering Your Office.