The digital age we live in is making it more difficult to stay focused on what we want and what really matters.
According to a study done in 2016, the average American adult spends 2 hours, 51 minutes on their smartphone every day. That’s almost 86 hours a month! That figure does not include time spent on tablet devices or on laptops or desktop computers surfing the internet.
With so many social media platforms, video streaming services and news outlets available to us, our ability to stay focused on what matters most in our lives is becoming increasingly difficult. Our attention span, which is linked to our ability to focus, has reduced greatly in recent years.
The choices available to us will only continue to increase as more services or new technologies are introduced. It’s predicted that in a few years time, most of the content we consume will be via videos, so it will be even easier to be distracted.
Today, being able to stay focused is closely tied to our ability to eliminate distractions. This is why knowing how to eliminate distractions and stay more focused is going to be critical if we want to make progress faster and get things done that really matter.
At a seminar I attended recently on high performance, it was suggested distractions should be viewed similarly to opening a lion’s cage and being attacked by lions. The best way to avoid being attacked by lions is to not open the cage or not be in an environment where we could get attacked.
A key thing to grasp is that if we allow ourselves to get distracted three times, then that’s a conscious decision we’ve made. We have to become more aware of how and why we allow ourselves to get distracted so that we have a better chance of preventing it from happening in the first place.
7 Ways to Prevent Distractions and Stay More Focused
- Know what you are being focused towards. We must have the big picture of our lives on our daily dashboard so that we know what we are being focused towards. If we don’t know what the short and long term payoffs are, staying focused and productive will be hard to sustain. Knowing what our dreams are will help us readjust whenever we allow distractions to get us off track.
- Think through your whole day before you start your day. It’s easy to get distracted if we don’t think through our whole day and preempt when and how we could get distracted. For each task or activity we have planned, we can prepare ourselves better mentally in order to decrease our chances of getting distracted.
- Manage your mental and physical energies better. A big reason why we get distracted is because we’re not at the top of our game mentally and physically. As an example, after a meal, people tend to crash in terms of their energy levels, but that can be avoided by better managing our energies throughout the day. Our minds will wander if we have do not have something specific to focus on.
- Work on one thing at a time. The more things we try to do at any given time, the less effective we are. We’ll be more effective if we work on one thing first and remove everything else from our workspace. We can always turn notifications off on our smart devices and computers. Whenever we are struggling to get something done, we should always focus on the first or smallest action we can take that day.
- Be accountable to someone. Having someone we’re accountable to will increase the need for us to be focused and productive because we’re less likely to let someone down if they’re counting on us to get something done. By having an accountability partner or coach, we will automatically raise our performance.
- Recognise your patterns of distraction. As we are creatures of habit, we have certain practices or behaviours that we may not always be aware of. For example, someone may have a coffee break at a certain time every day, which may be causing them to waste valuable time by having casual chats with co-workers. By becoming aware of this, they can choose to take a break at a different time or have something else instead of coffee.
- Schedule your distractions as required. Sometimes we may have to give ourselves a mental break from our work day so it’s beneficial to actually schedule our distractions. It’s important to know that these distractions have to be preplanned and be of a specific duration. If we schedule twenty minutes, then that’s all the time we should give ourselves. Scheduling our distractions in advance can be likened to setting up rewards for ourselves for getting things done.
The people who will make great progress in their personal and professional lives will be the ones who are able to avoid distractions and stay focused on what’s meaningful to them. Those who don’t, will lag behind and not achieve the results they want. The choice is simple—learn to better prevent distractions in order to win bigger in life.
Question: What is another way we can prevent distractions and be more focused on what needs to be done?
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