There’s a lot of current focus on our phones, and how much they distract us from other more important tasks. But is it just our phones? What else causes you to be distracted, and stops you from dealing with the most important tasks in your day, like those vital sales calls?
Actions are influenced by both “Tractions” (the things you want or meant to do), and “Distractions” (the things you didn’t want to, or intend to do). When you sit down to do something, what you actually end up achieving will be influenced by how much you got distracted from the task you set out to achieve.
So what internal triggers caused you to be distracted? Look back at a period of time when you intended to do something , and try to work out what stopped you from doing that. Was it boredom? Fear of the outcome? The size of the task? The alerts on your phone? The email showing “new mail”? The thing is, our brains are always looking for an easier path, the road to least resistance so you need to help the brain stay focused on one thing at a time.
So here are some tips to help you become less distracted, and more efficient:
- Plan your day, and plan your weeks. Segment the day and week in to bite size chunks. If you find yourself for example trawling through facebook, instead book yourself say 15 minutes in the morning and evening for “Facebook”. If you walk in to every day or week with a white sheet of nothing in the diary, you will inevitably end up being distracted.
- Manage emails. Look at them once an hour, or even three times a day. In between, turn them off, and why not put a message on the auto-responder to confirm when you look at them. For example. “Thanks for your message. I check my emails each day at (time) and (time). If your email is urgent, please call me on (number). Thanks for your understanding.
- Turn off ALL notifications. Especially sounds. You should choose when you want to look at whatsapp / twitter etc. not the technology. The social media companies are very good at hooking you in, but honestly, it really is down to your own self-control.
- Give yourself time to focus. If you are in an open office, devise a simple way of telling others that you are trying to focus and don’t want interruptions. Some businesses have quirky solutions for this such as a red led light that you can put on top of your computer screen when you are in “do not disturb” mode.
- Apply do not disturb to your phone, especially whilst driving. It always amazes me when people pick up the phone in a meeting and then say “I’m sorry, I’m in a meeting.” Just apply a little planning to your meeting and put the phone in do not disturb mode. You can also automatically configure this for when you are driving, whilst still allowing navigation prompts, see this link:
- Commit with a buddy. This is especially applicable to tasks that the brain really doesn’t want you to do, such as exercise. Find someone else that will do what you have promised yourself is important to you. It’s harder to let your running / cycling / swim / gym partner down at 0700 in the morning for that meeting. On your own, it’s all too easy to press snooze and hide under the duvet.
- Use https://www.focusmate.com/. A great free piece of software. You work quietly in tandem with your Focusmate and experience the power of human accountability.
- Download “Moment” – A screen TimeTracker and enjoy it on your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. … Track how much you and your family use your phone and tablet each day, automatically and see what apps you use the most too!
Here’s a few more helpful written and visual prompts for you… Don’t watch them now, book yourself in the 5, 10 or 15 minutes you need to fully engage, and then plan what you will do.
- (10 minutes) How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind: Tristan Harris
- (10 minutes) Mind Control: How to win the war in your head | Owen Fitzpatrick
- (15 minutes) The secret to self control | Jonathan Bricker