We have all been there, binge-watching Netflix or social media instead of working, getting sidelined by insignificant emails, text messages or calls and not to mention that the world of distraction is just a click away.
Developing a strong habit of deep focus and concentration will be the best defence against distraction. It will allow you to be productive and make progress in your goals.
Follow these 7 steps to forming this valuable habit.
1. Know your enemy!
What distracting websites or interruptions do you regularly have? Spend time noting when or by what you get interrupted or distracted from the ongoing tasks. Record the distraction, how you were feeling that time and if other people were also involved in it.
If social media or entertainment are your major distraction, track how long you are spending time on those. This can act as a real eye-opener for you!
Take note of how long you can stay focused before getting distracted. This will give you a benchmark and show you what to improve on!
2. Set a goal for your new behaviour
Once you know where you’re at, set a new behaviour goal. If you can currently focus for 30 mins before you get distracted, set a goal for 45 mins or limit the number of times each day you will tolerate distractions. You will check Facebook or social media only twice per day rather than constantly online. Often we seek out diversions when we want to escape the task at hand. So scheduling the diversions can make sure you are not constantly tempted.
3. Get motivation
Why do you want to make the habit of focus? To achieve your goals of course! Having your goals top of mind will help keep you on track. As well as achieving a specific goal, building the habit will help you better achieve all your goals. So when you are tempted to stray from your tasks, remind yourself why developing this habit is important.
Know ‘why’ you are doing something. Finding meaning, purpose, and enjoyment in your work can help keep you focused and motivated to stick with it.
4. Planning and strategy
Essential for success! There are lots of strategies you can put in place to eliminate or minimize distractions and maximize productivity. Some ideas are below. Make a plan and ‘to do’ list for what you want to get done during the day/ week etc. ‘Deciding’ what to do will leave you fair game for distractions and opting for easy tasks rather than taking goal-achieving actions. Prioritize in advance so you have a clear idea of what needs to be done.
Making progress on your focusing and productivity strategies will be difficult if you have limiting beliefs around this. Banish any thoughts that staying focused is hard or impossible. Replace these with “I stay focused and on the task at all times” and commit to the process of learning a new skill – which you won’t do perfectly on the first attempt!
6. Taking action
Sometimes we want to be distracted! Our brain’s reward centres light up at new messages and alerts. You need to take proactive action to build your new habit of concentration. Set a reminder for yourself to put in place distraction blocking strategies first thing in the morning before you get sucked in and derailed from productive work. This is also a great trick to get started on difficult work. Set yourself a goal of just 5 or 10 minutes of productive work on the task. Once you have started, there’s a good chance you will keep going as you’ve overcome inertia.
7. Record refine and review
Track your progress on a daily and weekly basis to see how your levels of concentration and focus are progressing against your habit goals for this area. Note if there are certain distractions you are still vulnerable to and brainstorm ways to mitigate these.
If you are running software on your PC, check the reports for where you’re spending your time and take corrective action if necessary.
Building the habit of focus and concentration can take time but like any habit but the more you practice it the better you will get. Get in touch with Living In Wellbeing for tips on staying focused and productive.