Distractions are killing your productivity. Top Time management tips to stay focused. These time management strategies give you options to avoid and conquer distractions.
Has this happened to you? You go online to investigate a topic and you find yourself sucked into a vortex of interesting articles that no longer have anything to do with what you were researching…but you may need it another time. You made a quick call with a friend to clarify an appointment but they wouldn’t let you off the phone. You are working on a project and your project team is constantly coming in to ask you random questions. Getting things done can be a challenge with all the distractions that surround you on a day to day basis!
Here are 12 ways to combat distractions. All of these are time management tips you have heard but are likely forgetting and /or not applying. Maybe one or two are new for you and will give you a new perspective on blocking distractions and staying focused!
Set timer to create a psychological marker. It makes it a game and put some urgency into your mind to get you to think faster on your feet to get things done more effectively and efficiently. You also can plan breaks in between each timed session giving you’re the reward for your focused attention.
It works! Check out the Pomodoro Technique for more structure around your timed daily blocks.
- Set deadlines
Setting deadlines is another urgency trick for our brain to help shift us into action. Without a deadline, it is easy to procrastinate and continue to push off the activity. A deadline makes the task a project and allows you to plan for completion. It will have the effect to get your more focused and block out distractions more easily.
- Turn off electronics
Duh. Your bells and whistles will distract you and interrupt your train of thought. This is the same as multi-tasking and has been proven as a big no-no for productivity. Depending on which study you read, the experts say it takes 23 minutes to get back your full attention on a project matter.
Plan the times you look at your devices and turn off the ringer.
- Schedule breaks
Breaks are an essential part of rejuvenation. How you manage your energy tells you whether you will make good use of the next hour or squander it away. When you allow yourself a short break to get up and take a walk, watch a short video or listen to some music, you are helping yourself be more focused on the time you are working. Without breaks, your threshold to keep your attention on one thing can be easily broken. Breaks are not lazy rather a productivity strategy. Einstein was an infamous napper and he seemed to be pretty focused and productive.
- Track distractions
Get a handle on your distractions by tracking them. I know it may seem annoying but record all the distractions you have for a week. You will be surprised at what you learn from this exercise and how much better you can avoid them when you realize where they are coming from.
Here is a free resource to track distractions http://p10app.com/distraction-tracking/
- Brain dump
David Allen is a big fan. Dump out all that you have in your head so you can be free to focus on the next activity. Give yourself 5 minutes before you end a block, leave a meeting or start something new and write down where you were, what is next and anything else you need to let go of. Evernote (https://evernote.com) is a great tool for that and has a great search engine to find it again.
- Get up earlier
You don’t have the time? Here is one way to make more time. Get up earlier and use the peace and quiet from the morning to get the most important things to you done first.
- Make a plan
When you have a plan for the day, you can be more focused on achieving it. It makes you more proactive versus getting caught up in whatever comes along. This sense of control keeps you more focused and more resistant to distractions.
- Connect to purpose and why important
When you are connecting to why something is important, this provides another psychology means to stay focused. You connect with its importance and stay on track.
- Clean up the clutter
Clutter creates distraction. Clean your desk before you leave and clear your head before you start the day and see how big the increase is in your ability to stay focused.
- Get more sleep
No “if’s”, “and’s” or “but’s”, sleep makes a difference in making us more resilient and more resistant to distractions. Most people stay up late doing nothing important. Use that time for true recharge. Watching TV, despite our excuses is not a productive recharge. If you find it hard to focus, give yourself another 45 minutes of sleep and see how that might add to your ability to focus. You won’t know until you try it. Top performers don’t say they will sleep wen they are dead!
- Say no
Practice saying no to people. If you are overloaded that in itself is causing a distraction. Look at your calendar and respectfully bow out of a few things to get your focus back.
It is only your responsibility to proactively block distractions so that your environment is productive. You have to protect your space and time because if you don’t manage your time, someone else will.
What is time management? Well, managing distractions is a subset of your time management efforts. Managing distractions is how you manage time. Staying focused during the time you have can be the most important time management skill.
It is time to build this new muscle and get one up on the distractions that are sabotaging your goals and your productivity.