Distractions are everywhere. Some of them you have no control over, but many of them you do. When something distracts you, it can take you anywhere from minutes to days to get back on track. That’s all wasted time that you can’t get back. If you can learn to eliminate distractions, you will find yourself feeling much more productive in every area of your life.
Manage Your Email Well
Email is such a big distraction for almost everyone. Email is a great way to stay in touch with your friends, favorite websites, and favorite stores, but you can also spend way too much time checking out the last updates, tips, or coupons being emailed to you. Even my mom will constantly get alerts on her phone when new emails come in, and it’s a huge distraction when we are trying to spend quality time together.
First, it’s important to clean up your email from time to time. You may have subscribed to a newsletter you found valuable a year ago, but no longer read. Instead of listening to the alerts about an email from that newsletter come in repeatedly, unsubscribe from them. If you are no longer interested in them, you are simply wasting time checking and deleting their emails.
Next, create a time to check your emails all at once. Maybe once in the morning and once in the evening, or, if you can, once per day. By creating a specific time to check emails, you will be giving yourself the rest of the day off from email distractions.
Create Tiny Lists
This idea comes from Beth Bridges, and I think that many people would benefit from trying this one out.
I reduce distractions and increase my productivity by creating tiny lists. Literally. I cut scratch paper into quarter-sized sheets, then I write down just a few things that I know I can finish that day or that morning. The physical limitations of the paper keeps me from seeing the literally hundreds of to-dos that are in my app. Instead, I zoom in and only think about and do the one or two things that are on the tiny list. Plus, it’s very satisfying to finish “everything” on my list! – Beth Bridges from The Networking Motivator
Create Or Find Places To Focus
A friend of mine, who grew up in a very religious family, values her time in quiet prayer. But in her small house lives one husband, three kids, three dogs, and two cats.
After her husband lost his job, she needed to pray more than ever, but had less space and privacy to do so. That’s when she created her prayer room. She emptied out her walk-in pantry and made it into a room that contains religious icons she finds meaning in, her bible, and other things that she uses to connect with God and get deep into her much-needed prayer time.
I work from home, but sometimes my dogs get very distracting during the day. They want my attention, and they won’t stop until they get it. That’s when I get in my car and go to a different location, such as the library or a coffee shop, where nothing or no one is demanding my attention.
My husband works in an office. But, his office seems to attract the gossipers and time-wasters. When he needs to be productive for the day, he will go find an empty office or head to the boardroom where co-workers can’t find him and distract him.
How can you create new places to focus when your regular places are too distracting?
Eliminating Distractions From Your Phone Is Essential
We all have phone distractions. Some of us are worse than others when it comes to being called towards the noises coming from our phone, but we all lose productivity because of them. When you want to be really productive and eliminate distractions from your phone, try out these techniques.
I minimize distractions by having my cell phone ringer always on vibrate with sound effects and media set to mute. Incoming calls are screened by an app called CallControl that uses a community blacklist to answer and hang up on spam and fraud calls. All other calls go to voicemail which I check on a regular basis. The phone itself physically sits several feet away from me out of sight when it’s being charged which further eliminates it as a distraction since I cannot see the screen light up. – Frank Laughlin From Ideas2Apply
Noise Cancelling Ear Muffs Are Great For Noise Distractions
Many years ago, I worked in a dog kennel, and we all had our own noise-canceling ear muffs. When I left my job, I kept my ear muffs, and I still use them to this day.
I am very sensitive to noise and it can easily distract me. But, my ear muffs keep out the majority of noise and allow me to focus on my other senses when I need to get things done. I will even wear mine at the library – which is never as quiet as you think a library should be.
I also wear them at home when my husband is playing his guitar. It helps me focus on things like reading while allowing him to do what he wants to do without having to ‘turn it down’.
If you find that noise is a big distraction in your life, I highly recommended investing in a pair of these. They are not that expensive, but they can really help you focus and get down to business.
Learn To Say No And Focus On Your Own Stuff
This may be a whole productivity tip on its own, but it’s really important to say no to eliminate distractions.
Learning to say no means that you let others know when you need to focus, be productive, or look after your own needs, and you don’t give them that time.
For instance, a friend of mine has always surprised me with visits. She lives on the other side of the country, but she takes a trip a few times a year to visit her family and her friends. I’ve asked her to let me know when she is coming, but she insisted on knocking on my door and yelling surprise. For years, this was a huge stress for me. Not only did it ruin my productivity when she showed up – for at least a week because I felt obligated to hang out with her – but it also stressed me out wondering if she was coming, which had a negative impact on my productivity as well. Eventually, she showed up on my door and I had to tell her no. I had to tell her that I had plans that were important and if she would have given me notice, I could have outsourced those plans or figured something else out, but since she didn’t, I needed to focus on my work. Since then, she’s always phoned me a few weeks in advance to let me know that she’s coming up.
This works well in the office too. If you are upfront with people and let them know that you would like to get your own work done before chitchatting, helping them, or anything else, people will normally respect your wishes. You just need to be consistent with the behavior in order to teach others that you really do want to be productive before anything else.
Be Present To Eliminate Distractions
Our thoughts can be a huge distraction. Worrying about tomorrow and thinking about yesterday can affect our productivity negatively as we can end up living in moments that aren’t actually happening.
You can’t be productive in the past or future, only in the present moment. So, it’s really important to stay grounded and present. This is why it’s important to take it one day at a time, and be as present as possible, moment to moment.
I learned a great technique to stay grounded and present from Jeffery Allen and his course Duality. It’s a visualization technique where you imagine light coming from your root chakra at the base of the spine flowing straight down into the earth. This visualization helps you feel connected to the earth and grounded in the moment. Anytime you start to feel disconnected from your body and lost in your thoughts, try this technique. It will instantly snap you back to the present moment in your body, and you will be able to get busy doing what you need to do.
Log Out Of Social Media
Lastly, just like with email, create a time to get on social media and, when it’s not that time, log yourself out and turn off notifications.
Social media is like a dinner bell – it’s hard to ignore. We all want to know what our friend sent us or the latest conversation about an event, but when things need to get done, it is just a distraction that ruins our productivity for hours on end.
This just requires a little bit of discipline and the right mindset. For instance, when being productive is more important to you than the latest Fakebook picture (and most of them are extremely set up and fake), you will find it easier to stay off social media, eliminate distractions, and be productive.