Interruptions seek to siphon the life out of your workday. They’re around every corner, draining your focus and stealing your attention.
But with a handful of smart, simple strategies, you can regain control. Instead of bouncing from distraction to distraction, try these tips that turn the tide in your direction. With these 5 distraction-destroying tools in your toolbox, nothing can stand in your way.
1. Write It Down
Want a quick way to bust through stress in a hurry? Capture every idea that steals your attention. Write it down as fast as you can. Resolve to deal with it later, and gently return your mind to the task you’re working on.
When you try to ignore the stream of to-do’s, reminders, and thoughts that come to you, you add a barrier to your concentration. Surrender to the fact that interruptions are going to happen. Give yourself permission to dwell on that thought long enough to scribble it in your notebook.
You’ll feel relaxed and in control. You’ll stay on track, with the confidence that no creative idea or important task will be overlooked.
2. Take a Break
Sometimes, deadlines require you to push through fatigue and mental blocks. This doesn’t mean you can’t cut yourself some slack.
When you can’t concentrate, try five minutes away from your desk. Take a walk. Move your body. Put on some soothing music. Take a few moments to reflect on your favorite part of the day.
Anything that sends your mind on a vacation away from your work will do. You’ll come back to the project feeling refreshed. You’ll perform better and get the job done faster.
3. Set a Timer
Timers magnetically draw your focus to the project at hand. Short bursts of focused attention can yield dramatic progress when you’re bogged down. After 15 or 30 minutes, your momentum might propel you all the way to the finish line.
Ask yourself, “What’s the next step I need to take?” Set a timer for 15 minutes, and give your best effort to the task until the timer goes off. At the end of 15 minutes, reward yourself with a break.
Often, you’ll find yourself ready to push right through the project. Reset the timer, and blast off. Make it a game, and see how much you can accomplish before time runs out. You’ll get done faster and cross the finish line with a smile.
4. Develop a Routine That Supports Your Success
Athletes know how to get their minds in gear for competition. The best athletes repeat the same actions, in the same sequence, before every game.
Some call this superstition. What elite athletes realize, though, is that a routine trains your brain to get into “competition” mode.
You can experience this for yourself. Create a set of actions that you follow each morning, in sequence. Over time, your brain and body will recognize that you’re getting into “game” mode. You’ll start your workday with focus and clarity.
5. Ask for Help
You don’t have to wait until you’re in a bind to experience relief from distractions. Get into the habit of asking, at the start of each new project, “Who can help me with this?” Train yourself to enlist the help of others. Who can show you how to do it faster? Who can take some of this off your plate, so you can focus on what you do best? You’re only alone in the struggle if you decide to be.
Which one of these strategies will you try today? Don’t let another distraction-filled day drain the life out of you. Instead, decide that today is the day you get focused and get more done.
by Jesse Lanclos