How to starve your distractions and feed your focus 🔍
The other day I thought to myself, “I really ought to focus on my important new project.”
So, I put on a fun outfit, I drove myself to a fun little local coffee shop, and got myself a fun little latte.
Despite all that, once I settled in, I couldn’t focus at all! The ambient distractions, background noise, and fact that I was refreshing my cell phone, it just didn’t work. Ha!
I was reminded of something important. We need to actively work on two things to meet our goals:
encouraging our focus, and at the same time,
reducing our distractions.
Think about it: on one hand, attention is a scarce resource that we want to “spend” carefully and thoughtfully. On the other hand, distractions are shown to be costly! A University of California Irvine study found that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after being interrupted by a single distraction.
With all the demands on your time, how will you work on staying focused? Try out these techniques to confidently put your distractions in their place and to cultivate your focus.
Quick Confidence Tips to Feed your Focus:
Embodied: You’ve got to move it, move it. It may sound counterintuitive to focusing, but did you know that leaving your chair and walking around for five minutes each hour can improve your productivity? It can also help you regain your focus. This is important because one study found that activity levels during the COVID-19 pandemic significantly decreased in terms of “light activity associated with socializing and work.” Working from home can make us forget to get up and move about. The key as you engage in strategic break-taking is to not get too distracted when you do it. Enjoy shaking things up but take care not to go down a rabbit hole of say, online shopping!
Interpersonal: You can’t please everyone all the time. We know from research that we humans don’t multitask well – in fact we’re built for single-tasking! But what happens if your distractions come from other people? The truth is there will always be those who rely on you, want your advice, and just “need a quick minute.” But I want to discourage you from trying to “people-please” these folks. Chronic people-pleasers sacrifice their time, sanity, well-being and focus in service of others. Instead, let people know that you shouldn’t be contacted right now, or state that you’re busy. Or let them leave you a message that you can return later. It’s more than ok to prioritize you!
Mindset: Reduce your options. If you find yourself prone to checking your phone or getting up for your fifth snack in an hour, it may be time to limit your options. Try putting your phone in airplane mode or put it in another room until you finish your task. Identify other productivity-killing offenders like computer notifications and consider closing them so you can dive deep and get to work! Taking charge of your options, environment, and noises can help you regain a sense of control.
With all that demands our attention, it's so important to take ownership of your focus. It's only when you learn to feed your focus that you'll gain the time and energy to be creative and productive. That’s how you can reliably get things done and achieve your goals and dreams!