We live in a world of distraction. Phones, internet, apps, and even people give us a constant supply of distractions from the work we are trying to complete. These distractions add up to a significant amount of time, time that we aren’t completing tasks being productive, or meeting the expectations that have been set by others and ourselves. But there is hope. There are practices you can start implementing to cut down on distractions and the ensuing downtime.
1. Create a Distraction-Free Mode
Being in distraction-free mode is something you will have to work your way up to. Start by eliminating big things. Turn your phone off, put it on silent, or put it in a drawer. There are apps and browser add-ons that will allow you to block sites that are tempting timesucks for you temporarily. If distractions are more of the human variety, consider closing your office door or wearing noise-canceling headphones. With many office spaces going to open concept, there are daily occurrences that you may not even realize are distractions. Over time, eliminating these distractions will become second nature.
2. Big Three List
Many days you have a to-do list that is longer than your actual workday. Start making a big three list. These are the items that you must get done. Having this big three list will give you a manageable list to focus on when distractions do happen. Keeping the list short will also make it seem not as overwhelming.
3. Shorten Your Workday
If you know you have 8 hours to complete 5 hours’ worth of work, you will subconsciously take 8 hours to do the work. To counter this set deadlines for yourself that are shorter. This will mean getting the job done in less time and then allowing you to move on to the next item or enjoy your downtime.
4. Turn Off Autopilot
Your mind doesn’t wonder because you tell it to. It’s something that happens when you go autopilot. Pay attention to when this happens, what you’re thinking about, and work to stop the wondering before it starts.
Finding the sweet spot between checking off items on your to-do list and actually being productive is no easy task. Distractions come in many forms and until you learn to identify distractions and move past them, you will be stuck with your switch in the “off” position.