5 keys to keeping focused by eliminating distractions
What’s the difference between people who get a bunch done in a day compared to those who cant? It’s all about the methods you use and the environment you create for yourself to push you towards your goals. Here are 5 keys that I’ve found instrumental in making the most of my work time by accomplishing deep work instead of busy, distracted work.
1. Know ahead of time the task you should be working on.
There are two reasons for this. One: It is very easy to be busy while working on a task that doesn’t actually bring you closer to your goal as efficiently as possible. Two: It takes time to figure out the right task to be working on. It’s easy to get distracted thinking or “researching” instead of doing the work that will bring you to your goal. Know what your most important task that day is ahead of time. Give it priority over everything else.
Action item: Write out your “to do” list for the next day the night before. Review it in the morning. Bonus points if you meditate in the morning and visualize yourself doing the tasks. Also visualizing the positive emotions of getting it done.
2. Don’t multitask
Switching between tasks wastes time and mental energy. You have a finite amount of discipline and willpower to get things done in a single day. Start with your most important task and don’t switch to another until you have accomplished what you set out to do.
3. Stop being available
Your time is your most important commodity and your attention is your second. They get sapped by people, emails, and calls that are demanding your attention. Guarding your time is vital to getting your most important task of the day done.
Let family, friends, coworkers, and clients know that you’re busy right now. You’ll get back to them as soon as possible. Block off time on your schedule where you only work on the task at hand
Action item: set up an autoresponder for your email, phone, and text when you are doing deep work. That way it won’t require your attention and people will know you’ll get back to them ASAP.
4. Unplug-turn off notifications
Digital distractions are the number 1 killer of productivity and deep focused work. We’re conditioned to respond to the dings of our cell phone or work email. I turn my phone completely off when I’m writing or doing other tasks that need my full attention. Don’t check your email until you’re completely done doing your most important task. There is nothing as urgent as you might think.
5. Reducing procrastination
The last distraction that many people struggle with is internal. When we’re faced with a hard task, our brains love reminding us of other things we could or should be doing at this moment. Sometimes it will be mindless entertainment. Other times it will take the guise of important tasks that need to get done now. The key is scheduling time for both of those.
Make sure you block off time on your schedule for fun. Block off time on your schedule for daily tasks that need to get done. Keep your most important task scheduled as early as possible in the day for as long as necessary to get it done. When your brain knows that it’s going to get what it wants later, It will stop pestering you about it now.
Action item: keep a distraction log. Whenever something takes you off task for more than five minutes. Write down what it was and what the trigger was that made you think of doing it. As much as possible, try to eliminate those triggers. Also, make a plan to get back on topic when a distraction does come.
Check out my productivity blueprint blueprint below for actionable steps to get more done today!
Make it a practice
There are many different things that can cause a distraction and lead to a loss in your focus. But it comes down to one major theme. There will always be “pressing” matters that will take away your attention from important but not urgent work.
Recognizing that your important work is indeed more important than these distractions is the first step. Eliminating anything that keeps you from doing that work is the second.
Successful people don’t run around all day putting out “urgent” fires. They do the hard work during the time that they’ve set aside. Then they worry about everything else once they have accomplished their goal for the day.