If you made the switch to working from home, you probably noticed a welcome change. Remote workers are more productive, with 68% experiencing fewer interruptions than in an office, according to a poll by FlexJobs.
Reducing distractions was one of the few positive outcomes of the pandemic. Fortunately, there are much less drastic ways to achieve the same results. Try these modern rules for staying on task.
Dealing with External Distractions
Chatty coworkers are just one of the things that can make you lose track of what you were doing. Make a plan to handle social media, advertising, and anything else that diverts your attention.
Try these tips:
- Schedule message checks. The average American checks their phone more than 4 times each hour. Pay more attention to the ones you’re with. Turn off notifications and view your messages at a few designated times.
- Set specific limits. You know how you sometimes mean to play one game, and then it’s suddenly past your bedtime? Decide in advance to spend a half hour online or watch one TV program.
- Adjust the temperature. Stop fiddling with the thermostat. OSHA recommends a room temperature between 68- and 76-degrees Fahrenheit for maximum productivity. You might also want to wear comfortable clothing and noise canceling headphones.
- Clear away clutter. It’s harder to focus when you have coffee cups and clothing scattered around. Organize your home and office. Give away objects you rarely use or store them out of sight.
- Install apps. There’s technology that can help you to restrict your time online. For example, Moment tracks your activities and compares them to the average user, and AppBlock removes access to websites and apps you want to avoid.
- Go offline. Turn off your devices at certain times of day, including mealtimes and the hours before bed. Go outdoors to work in your garden or hike. Play with your kids and invite your friends over.
- Watch the road. Distracted driving endangers others and yourself. Pull over if you feel drowsy or want to send a text.
Dealing with Internal Distractions
If you’re like the average adult, your mind is wandering for almost 47% of each waking hour. That figure comes from a Harvard study that also found that such prolonged daydreaming could be making you unhappy.
These strategies can help keep you focused:
- Accept reality. Recognizing that some interruptions are unavoidable can make them less disruptive. Take a deep breath and visualize something pleasant. Work on the things you can control.
- Forget multitasking. Switching your attention back and forth damages your brain and increases anxiety. Do one thing at a time.
- Sleep well. Your mind and body need 7 to 8 hours of restorative sleep each night. Otherwise, your powers of concentration weaken, as well as your memory and judgment. Stick to a regular bedtime and use a fan to block out noise.
- Act more intentionally throughout the day. Keep your mind on the present. Slow down and take breaks before you feel fatigued.
- See your doctor. You may need medical care if you experience persistent brain fog or your inability to concentrate is interfering with your life. Your doctor can run tests to evaluate your symptoms and develop a treatment plan.
Today’s world is filled with distractions, but you can learn to manage them. Focusing your attention on the things that matter to you reduces stress and helps you to reach your goals.