5 Ways to Stay Focused in a Distracted World
Do you catch yourself picking up your phone numerous times throughout the workday just to check out what’s happening on Twitter; or do you constantly read emails as they come, in one by one? You might believe that you’re being productive by staying up to date on social media and answering an email as soon as you receive it.
But in fact, you’re actually distracting yourself from the more important tasks you have as a business owner.
Being able to focus is a competitive advantage these days with YouTube, social media in general and any other app that vies for your attention. Yet, your best work and most innovative ideas actually come from the time you spend doing deep, focused work. That’s why it’s important to eliminate daily distractions if you want to improve your workflow and grow your business.
Ready to take charge of your day? Here are five ways to stay focused in a distracted world.
1. Turn off notifications.
The first and most obvious step to staying focused is to turn off notifications. You may be under the impression that notifications aren’t that distracting because these distractions last only 10 seconds tops. But, according to researchers, even though a notification seems to only momentarily distract us, it disrupts our thoughts for much longer, making it difficult to get back on track. Even if you don’t interact that much with your mobile phone, this device can disrupt attention performance.
Try setting aside a period of time in the morning to check your email and work on your social media presence and then another chunk at the end of your day. For the rest of the day, stay away from your phone and turn off notifications.
2. Establish a daily routine.
Establishing a daily routine is a great tactic to improve your focus. When you establish a daily routine, you’ll begin doing things automatically. You’ll no longer have to waste time thinking about what you have to do and when you should do it.
Mark Zuckerberg famously stated that he wears the same outfit every single day to focus his energy and improve his productivity; and entrepreneur and productivity guru Tim Ferriss recommends eating the same meal for lunch every day to stay focused.
Whether you're planning out your outfit, preparing your lunch or carving out time in your day to do important tasks, create a routine and stick to it. An easy and fun way to help you set up a daily routine is to use an app like Productive - Habit Tracker. By having a daily routine to follow, you’ll avoid wasting time on distractions and fit more into your day than you thought possible.
3. Rank your tasks.
As a business owner, you have a staggering number of tasks to complete in a day. You may find it overwhelming and distracting to think about all you need to get done. But a great tactic for staying focused on the tasks at hand is to rank those tasks in order of importance.
In his bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey recommended ranking tasks by important/not important and urgent/not urgent. Ranking your tasks will help you focus on what’s most crucial and avoid wasting time on menial chores.
4. Stop multitasking.
A lot of people think they’re great at multitasking, but the truth is that most of the population can’t multitask at all, at least not as effectively as they think. In fact, MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller has stated that multitasking ruins productivity, causes mistakes and impedes creative thought. He said that to better understand how our brains delude us into thinking we can multitask, we should look at how we physically see the world.
We appear to perceive our surroundings through a video-camera lens, but in reality our eyes are actually darting around three-to-four times per second, taking in our surroundings in snippets. It’s the same with multitasking: When we’re working on multiple different things at once, our effort may seem seamless, but it’s not.
So, stop trying to multitask and start "single-tasking." When you focus on one thing at a time, you’re much more likely to get that one task done quickly, efficiently and correctly.
5. Take time to regenerate.
With your busy schedule, it’s hard to take time out for yourself, but regenerating ourselves is important to maintaining focus. When you feel your energy begin to fade, you'll find that your ability to focus will decrease along with it.
And, as you tire, you may find yourself succumbing to distractions like social media more often, making it more difficult to make decisions.
A study reported by the National Academy of Sciences discovered that taking breaks can prevent “decision fatigue." In the study, Israeli judges were found to grant parole to prisoners more often after they had had a break rather than after they had worked a while. When they were tired, they made the easiest and safest decision: Just say no. Don't be like that: Giving your brain a rest from work will allow you to come back to your tasks re-energized and with a sharper focus.
Entrepreneurs are always looking for strategies to get more done in a day and the simplest way to achieve this is to remain focused in a world filled with distractions. These tips to achieve that goal will allow you to spend more time on the things that matter -- like growing your business to the next level.