Distractions are everywhere and sometimes there is just no way of avoiding them. As a culture, we have become addicted to checking our phone after a few minutes of work, schooling, or even hobbies. And as our mind chooses to wander off in other directions and affect our work ethic, it’s time to work on improving our focus and productivity skills. In this guide, we will discuss 12 effective tips that will cure your addiction to distractions.
Our 12 tips include:
- Ensure a suitable working environment
- Make a schedule
- Make a to-do list
- Make daily goals
- Avoid phone use
- Avoid multitasking
- Practice meditation
- Pomodoro method
- Organize your area
- Getting enough sleep
- Install focus-oriented apps
- Treat yourself
12 Tips on How to Avoid Distractions
Ensure a suitable working environment
Finding the perfect working environment that consists of no distractions seems impossible, though there are plenty ways to ensure that there are less distractions.
Studies show that working in your bed decreases productivity, as the brain starts to fuse your work space and sleeping place together. Though you think your body is more comfortable working in bed, it will eventually make your body hurt when you spend hours in a slouched position. It can even lead to demotivation and feelings of laziness.
Look for an environment outside the bedroom, one that is well-lit, quiet, and has a proper setup with a chair and a desk. Be weary of busy areas with tons of people and movement that will catch your eyes off-guard.
Make a schedule
Making a schedule helps in several different ways. It allows you to structure your time in an efficient manner by planning work periods, study time or possible distractions. It will relieve any potential temptation to engage in distractions.
Investing in a digital scheduling app, like Google Calendar or ClickUp. ClickUp is an app designed to help your daily planning and then some. The app goes above and beyond with features like a whiteboard, customizable notifications, and an advanced notepad.
Another helpful tip is to prepare a schedule the day before, that way you feel more motivated to get up the next day to accomplish your tasks.
Make a to-do list
Making a checklist of the work needed done is a great way to keep tasks in check. Research has shown that making a to-do list releases your brain’s burdens. A to-do list will help you prioritize what needs to be accomplished first or what needs the most attention. When you start checking off the tasks off your list, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment and less stressed about being forgetful. This can be effective in increasing your motivation and self-discipline.
The “do one thing” method helps when your to-do list gets too long and overwhelming. The tactic consists of taking one thing off the list, writing it on a post-it note, and sticking it somewhere in your clear vision. This way, you’ll be less stressed about all the other tasks you need to get done. You will also be able to complete way more tasks with this method.
TickTick is a free to-do list platform that you can use as an app or online. Not only can you set up your list with set reminders, you can also collaborate your to-do lists with friends or co-workers.
Make daily goals
Though you might not be able to finish an assignment in one day, making a daily goal is helpful in getting it done on time. For example, if you have a five page paper due by the end of the week, a goal of one page a day or a certain word limit can make writing the paper easier. It is also useful to combat procrastination and further stress.
Avoid phone use
Your phone constantly dinging every five seconds is determined to distract you from your work. Putting your phone on silent or “Do Not Disturb” mode is extremely helpful towards avoiding distractions. It is even more efficient to put the phone out of sight, that way you are not trying to pick it up every now and then.
Research shows that the mere presence of your phone is good enough to distract your work, as we’ve become too tempted to check them. It will still be hard not to look or reach for our phones. But with some self-discipline to put your phone away or on silent, you have a better chance of working harder.
It may seem like an effective method for getting work done, but multitasking is a distraction in itself. By dividing your attention, you are at risk for making more errors and overlooking important details. According to research, consistent multitasking might lead to long-term memory problems. Plus, the process of switching back and forth will eventually be mentally exhausting.
Instead of multitasking, use your to-do list and schedules to properly space out your time. That way, you won’t need to tackle two tasks at once.
The art of meditation can do wonders on a clogged up mind. It can strengthen your prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for our ability to focus, self-discipline, and decision-making.
Set aside some time to center your thoughts in a quiet place, it only has to be about five minutes. It will most likely seem hard at first, but with some daily practice you can become a pro.
Check out this five minute meditation video to help increase your productivity.
The Pomodoro method is a popular way to increase focus. The method includes setting a timer for an allotted amount of time, usually 20-25 minutes. During this time, you are to work the entire time without going off task or taking a break. After the time is up, then you treat yourself to a five minute break. The Pomodoro method is meant to be repeated for as long as needed. Once you get through several rounds, you can make the break longer than five minutes. Using this technique will help train your brain to stay concentrated for a longer period of time.
If you are interested in trying this technique, Focus is an app designated for the Pomodoro method.
Organize your area
If you are working at a table that is covered with clutter, try to clear off the mess so that you are not distracted by it. It will lessen your anxiety and allow you more space to work. Organizing helps you quickly find an item or material you are looking for, cutting down the time and energy that would be wasted on searching through clutter. It also provides the mental clarity necessary for better concentration, whereas a disorganized space may overwhelm and distract the mind.
Here are some more tips on organizing your workspace.
Get enough sleep
Even though it seems like being awake longer will allow you to get more done, a lack of sleep will have an effect on your focusing ability. Without it, your brain won’t be able to pay attention and perceive information as well as having a full night’s sleep. All of your executive functions are impaired, and your problem-solving skills and goal-directed behaviors are affected.
Dr. Matthew Carter, a sleep specialist, argues in his Ted Talk about the belief that less sleep will allow for a person to have more time to get things done. He states, “Ironically, when [you] are sleep deprived, [you] enjoy the day less and are so unfocused that they are much slower in getting things done.”
Install focus-oriented apps
Sometimes it’s hard to trust yourself to not go off task. That’s where some designated apps come in to keep you on track.
Forest is an app where you plant a seed and watch it grow, but if you leave the app, the tree will die and the process will have to start all over again. It is distinctly designed to work on your tendency to go off task.
LeechBlock NG is a free website blocker where you can block distracting websites entirely or for a scheduled time.
The Serene app maximizes several benefits for increasing your focus. It is able to block apps and websites, provide distraction-free music, and establish daily goals.
After spending some time working, it’s good to treat yourself with a reward for working hard and to boost your self-confidence.
The reward could be:
- Going out for a coffee or a specialty drink
- Watching a few episodes of your favorite show
- Taking a walk
- Spending some time with friends
- Getting some non-screen time
No matter the form, a reward will have its benefits. So don’t feel ashamed to splurge after working hard all day.
Those are our 12 tips to avoiding distractions.
Though distractions are inevitable, there are so many ways to combat them when studying, working, or even enjoying a hobby. With the right amount of self-discipline and effort, you can work your way towards having more productivity in your daily routine with these 12 tips.