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How to Stop Getting Distracted and Regain Your Focus

Are daily distractions causing you problems at home and work?

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Pinging phones. Dinging computers. Intrusive thoughts. Modern-day life is filled with distractions. Without a doubt, the problem of concentrating can affect anyone. Nearly three-quarters of high performers struggle with distracted thoughts at least part of the time, according to a survey by Harvard Business Review. That means that even your  go-getter, Type-A colleague or boss probably deals with distractions, too. 

The solution, of course, is figuring out how to make your distractions fade into background noise. Sure, you can turn off your phone and shut down your laptop. But unless you put some other specific measures into place, your mind will probably fall into unwanted “Squirrel!” moments. You’ll fall into the belief that you just can’t keep your grey matter in the game.

Related: “Distractions Are Hurting You More Than You Realize: Here's Why

If you’ve tried to stay focused without seeing success before, you don’t have to assume this task is impossible. Anyone can reap the benefits of feeling more alert and targeted mentally, including professional effectiveness. Start by implementing the following best practices.

Take control of your schedule

More isn’t more. It’s less, especially when it comes to an overworked calendar. A recent opinion piece from The New York Times suggests that overpacking a kids’ schedule doesn’t reap rewards. Instead, the author points out that it just makes life more hectic for children. She notes that when they’re overburdened with activities, they can fall into mental health traps, as well as social ones.

You might not be a youngster anymore, but you can take a note from her arguments: Pare down your commitments. For instance, open up your calendar right now. Is it ridiculously jam-packed? Think like a triage nurse and begin categorizing what’s important versus what’s not. 

As you contemplate each responsibility, ask yourself if someone else could take your place. Alternatively, is everything honestly necessary? Understanding what’s “nice to complete” and what’s “essential to complete” helps you whittle away your duties. When your to-do list is leaner, you can focus more on each item instead of rushing.

Related: Own Your Time: 8 Essential Calendar Management Skills

Dive into the practice of meditation

Practicing meditation techniques can be royally challenging, especially for people accustomed to living 100 miles-per-hour. Nevertheless, meditating can help you reduce your overall stress levels and soothe a fast-burning mind. 

You don’t have to get to a yoga studio to meditate, either. You can simply go through some basic exercises that will help you gather your thoughts. A highly rated five-minute meditation technique involves closing your eyes and relaxing your body. Let your mind roam freely for a full five minutes. Don’t attempt to lead your brain in any particular direction.

Some people like to hum softly while they perform their meditations. Others like to play music in the background. Many prefer silence or the sounds of nature if they’re close to a window or the outdoors. This type of meditation trick works because it puts the brakes on a runaway brain. Forcing yourself to recollect can stop you from making hasty decisions, speeding toward solutions, or feeling harried. If you like the results, you may want to invest in a top-rated meditation app like Calm or Headspace.

Related: Why Guided Meditation is Essential For Every Entrepreneur

Prioritize your sleep hygiene

You know you should be getting a good night’s rest. Unfortunately, 11% of adults admit that they never get the sleep they need. And 70% have sleep problems at least once monthly. Being sleep deprived, even a little, can eat away at your ability to focus. Remember: You’re not in college as a full-time student anymore. Pulling all-nighters may seem reasonable, but it causes your mind to get into “dull mode.”

Of course, figuring out how to get enough sleep can seem harder than catching photos of the Loch Ness Monster. One solution is to start practicing sleep hygiene. That is, begin to apply consistent steps to your bedtime routine. 

An example of a solid sleep hygiene regimen might be to read for 20 minutes before going to bed at 11:00 p.m. Then, set your alarm for 6:00 a.m. and avoid hitting the snooze. Even if you have trouble falling asleep right away, you shouldn’t give up. Within three weeks of consistently practicing your sleep routine, your body will adjust. You’ll feel less distracted during your daily activities as a result of getting a great snooze.

You can’t avoid all distractions in your life. Nonetheless, you can keep a lot of them from eating away at your personal and professional satisfaction.

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