10 Things to Unlock Your Total Focus Right Now
Your attention is a very valuable commodity.
Keeping it to yourself is a constant battle in today’s world, when advertisers want you to buy their products, and the people around you want to feel loved or important.
It’s like fighting a war to hold your own focus, because technology provides so many tools that stack the odds against you. If you have to get something done you’ll need a real strategy to stand a fighting chance.
Distractions are the enemy of concentration, but to work efficiently for the proprietor, they’re almost always just simple mechanisms that can be easily side-stepped when picked-apart. Chances are, whatever is blocking your productivity can be removed in just a few seconds.
The environment we’re in plays the biggest part in directing our attention, so you can’t expect to sit in a room with a thousand shiny buttons and stay focused on one thing.
Here are 10 ways to steal back your attention from the world around you:
Before the days of smartphones, silent mode was enough. These days you need a much stronger pesticide to keep the situation under control.
A device that compresses so many distractions into a portable, pocket-sized attention-hog should not be underestimated. Some of us do need these for our work on a daily basis, so be sure to choose what that works for you:
Level 1: Silent mode
Level 2: Turn off push notifications
Level 3: Disable the notification light (or place face-down)
Level 4: Airplane mode in the other room
Put down social media
We’re social creatures, so it’s really easy to want to spend your time messaging friends or absorbing pictures of cats through a convenient little screen.
The key is just to put it down. Close the app, close the tab, because these systems are usually designed to be a slippery slope into a time-sink.
To really keep your usage under control, take 10 seconds to set a timer and keep yourself from over-indulging.
Take your charger to the front door
You’re working at your desk and it’s sitting in your peripheral vision. A little blinking light that screams ‘look at me!’ really isn’t conducive to productivity, so don’t let it be there.
Don’t keep a complex little distraction-machine charging in reach of your workspace or your bed, because that’s just asking for trouble.
If you’re not prepared to ditch your phone, you could get a dumber phone. Otherwise keep it in the other room or better yet, leave it by the front door.
Tidy your workspace
Even if you have stacks of paper, and a bunch of little trinkets on your desk, it doesn’t take much time to scoop them all up and put them literally anywhere else. Generally speaking if they’re out of sight, they’re out of mind.
Vision is your primary source of information in most situations, so if you let it be cluttered, you’ll end up with overcrowded thoughts.
Hide your videogames
Candy Crush does not belong on your home screen. Every time you go to check for directions or send a message, it’s colorful little icon is teasing your dopamine centre.
If it’s console games, don’t leave your controller sitting around where you can see it, and likewise for computer games you can remove shortcuts that are sitting on your desktop or taskbar.
You don’t have to cut out your favourite way to relax or wind down, but you should make it an intentional decision rather than the easiest way to spend your day.
Delete your bookmarks
Typing out the website you want to visit is only slightly more inconvenient than clicking on that little button at the top of your screen.
By removing the constant reminder of their existence, you dampen their influence over your choices. Having to type the name each time takes maybe two extra seconds, but requires more intent on your part to be distracted.
Have you ever found yourself clicking YouTube>Reddit>Gmail in a constant loop, hoping for something new in your feeds to break up the boredom? By introducing the need for intent, you don’t step into that cycle in the first place.
Check your e-mails in the morning
For most people, the mail they receive does not require their immediate action, and can usually wait until the next day. Task-switching makes it harder for your mind to stay on-track, and in this case, the anticipation of incoming mail is just another thing impeding your subconscious.
Clear your inbox just once a day or less, and preferably not before bed when new information can keep you awake. You will save those short bursts of time spent checking in, but also keep your focus from waning.
Reduce your screen real-estate
Most screens have become convenient windows into a world of concentrated distraction. If you sit at your desk with a phone, laptop, tablet, and smart-watch in front of you, you’re creating opportunity for getting side-tracked.
A friend of mine recently bought two additional computer monitors for a sweet, three-way setup, “built for raw productivity.” However, it didn’t take long for her to realise that keeping Facebook on one side and flashy music-videos on the other at all times had the opposite effect.
Unless your work actually requires multi-tasking or filling your entire visual field with everything at once, find somewhere else to put it all.
Drown-out the outside noise
Unpredictable noises disrupt concentration, because back in the caveman days, they needed our full attention as an unidentified, potential threat.
Grab your earphones, and drown out the noise. Binaural beats are designed to be calming and predictable so your don’t need brain power for listening.
Take this up a notch by purchasing some decent, noise-isolating headphones and the cost will be mitigated by your bolstered focus in no time.
Define when it ends
If you work all the time you will burn out and you can’t avoid it. When getting into your ‘productive time,’ first decide what’s going to come next.
Working in a completely open-ended time-frame simply doesn’t work. Maybe you are happy to go non-stop ‘until your next promotion’ or maybe you are more comfortable starting small and rewarding yourself after just 2 hours of hard work.
Knowing what your time is for is perhaps the best way to stay on-track of them all, so before you get started just take a second to identify the light at the end of the tunnel.
The common secret is removing your distractions
Inside your head is a human brain, just like everyone else’s. It’s specifically designed to get through life taking the path of least resistance, so it’s important sometimes to remove all the other paths.
Our minds wander and that’s just a fact of our biology.
It will definitely help if you train yours over time with proper habits and rewards, but you don’t have to go out of your way to keep it in check.
Take 10 seconds to tie a knot, and keep it on a simple leash so it won’t be able to wander very far.