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We live in an era of information overload. We are bombarded with media, technology, entertainment, and notifications every day. It seems there are hundreds of people and things competing for your attention at any given time. There is no wonder why in the last few years, our attention spans have become shorter and our ability to focus has decreased.
Your time is valuable. Not being able to focus can have a negative effect on how successful we are at work and in our personal lives. Focus is a skill that we develop by training and practice. Productivity requires intention and strategy to help make your time work for you!
Let’s begin by examining time killers that make us less productive. We will discuss tips and techniques to help improve your focus. Then let’s create your plan will that will get you started on improving your productivity now!
Indentify Focus Killers
“Focus can only occur when we have said yes to one option and no to all other options,” says James Clear in his article on Focus.
Time killers are activities that distract us from what we really need to do. They don’t contribute to helping us achieve our goals.
Time killing activities are “noise”. They are distractions that kill our ability to focus. Laser focus requires to limit them as much as possible while you are working.
The key to focus is to choose one task to do and get rid of the rest. Anything that is not essential for completing that task is a distraction.
To help you get started on your journey on maximizing productivity, let’s identify those things that are distracting you from completing your work.
Tomorrow morning when you start work, try taking a written (or mental) note of every time you stop from what you are currently working on to do something, then come back to your work. Keep a tally.
Once they are identified, let’s write those activities down to put in our plan later. We will look for ways to set boundaries to prevent it from happening in the future. Here are a few examples of the most common distractions and how they affect our ability to stay focused.
Your Mobile Device/Phone
It is with you when you wake up, while you are driving, in meetings, at dinner, and by your bedside at night. Our mobile devices have become another appendage to our bodies. Some people find it difficult to be away from their phones, even for a few minutes. Constant notifications from apps and texts can quickly distract you, causing a delay in getting your attention focused back on the task at hand.
To help us be more aware of our phone usage, some mobile devices (like the iPhone) will track home many times you pick up your phone a day. This can be a scary number to see. Once you are aware of how many times you pick up your phone to check notifications, you can start making some adjustments to how often you pick up your phone.
Some people use multi-tasking as a badge of honor to feel accomplished. That person may feel that the busier they are, the more things they are getting done. The truth is we can work on more than one thing at a time, just not as well.
When we can focus on one task at a time, we can give it our full focus. It takes time for our brains to switch between tasks which results in time wasted. Focus on the completion of tasks rather than getting many tasks done quickly. How often are you multi-tasking? Write down if you feel multi-tasking helps you feel accomplished.
Social Media Traps
Have you ever fallen into the rabbit hole of YouTube or become so engaged with Instagram that you found yourself there for hours? It happens often. The chemical rewards we get from our brain when we get likes and comments on our posts keep us engaged.
As consumers, we enjoy viewing the millions of videos and content posted every day. However, if we are working this is a hindrance to our productivity. The best way to stop this time killer is to set boundaries for social media.