Distractions are some of our biggest enemies as we navigate our days. They stop us from focusing on what's important, cost valuable time, and can cause anxiety and overwhelm as our list of things to do pile up.
Distractions are all around us. They come in the form of time-wasters like television, social media, and mindless web browsing. They can be focus-blockers like that guy that keeps stepping into your office to ask a quick question, the email alert that causes you to look up, or the guy that coughs in your golf backswing. No matter what, minimizing distractions and their impact on your daily priorities is crucial to having a productive day.
It is said that reaching a state of high concentration can take up to 25 minutes. This can also be referred to as a state of "flow" when you are working hard and ideas and effort seem to flow out of you. That state can be interrupted with an email alert or phone call. The slightest distraction can bring you out of it. It will then take another 20-25 minutes to get back there if you do at all.
The big problem is that most people never get there. We are so distracted constantly that we are never fully engaged. The result is that we are inefficient, our end results are poor, and we're tired from overthinking.
How To Minimize Distraction
Identify Your Obvious Distractions
Take the time to write down 10 - 20 things that distract you on a daily basis. These are the things that you know are your procrastination habits, the things that bother you, and the things that waste time every time you engage in them. Some common examples can be TV, social media, gossip, excessive socializing, oversleeping, and video games.
Raise Your Awareness
The practice of writing down your obvious distractions brings them into clearer focus. Now that you've identified them, its time to stop engaging in them. As you do, your awareness of other distractions will become better.
Focus on getting to a state of flow. Set aside at least 30-60 minutes to focus on a priority with no interruption. Shut off your phone, email, and close your door. Once you know what it feels like to reach that state, you'll also know what being knocked out of it feels like. Identify and write down the things that knock you out of flow.
Develop Good Processes
The best performers in the world have set routines that enable them to perform at peak levels. The best companies have efficient processes that give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace. It stands to reason that the same should be true for you. Develop a good process, a set routine, avoid distraction, and you'll begin to develop efficiency like never before.
A great place to start is a good morning routine. Do you wake up and rush around the house until you frantically leave for work? Instead, wake up at the same time each day. Intentionally take time for yourself to prepare yourself for the day. Eat, exercise, read, shower, meditate, and calmly walk out the door.
Over time, that simple routine change will have a huge impact on your day. The more routines like that you can create throughout the day, the more efficient you will become. Distractions will have a smaller impact on you and you will find more time to focus on what matters most.