I am inherently an easily distracted person. I think we all are on some level, though some of us certainly control it better than others! When I think of a new project or idea, even if I’m already in the middle of a different project or idea, I dive in with both feet.
When I open Facebook to share something on my blog page, I find myself scrolling through my news feed for far longer than planned. When I’m in the middle of cleaning my apartment, I suddenly find something interesting to watch on TV. It happens.
Sometimes it’s okay to be distracted by a new project or idea. Sometimes it’s okay to zone out and scroll through social media for a while. Sometimes, however, we need to force ourselves to avoid those distractions so we can get more done in a day.
How to Avoid Distractions and Get More Done
Know Your Triggers
As you can probably see from the first paragraph of this post, I am definitely aware of what my biggest distractions are and when they are most likely to distract me. Basically, unproductive things that distract me when I’m working on something way more productive.
For many of us, social media is a trigger, as is Netflix. The first step to help you minimize distractions and get more done is to identify what your biggest triggers are for becoming distracted.
Remember Your Priorities
Here’s how I like to look at it. Yes, I like watching Netflix. If I can find a good show, it’s something I genuinely enjoy. And sometimes blogging seems like more work than I’m in the mood for. But my blog is a huge priority for me, more of a priority than Netflix. And in six months, I’m going to be a heck of a lot more grateful for spending three hours tonight blogging than I would be if I had spent three hours tonight watching Netflix.
It’s easy to get caught up in distractions and tell yourself that they are important to you. But when you put them in a side by side comparison to things that are really important to you, such as family, your health, your career, etc., you’ve got a clear winner.
Turn Off What You Don’t Need
Unless the project you’re currently working on requires you to have your email open, Facebook open, and your phone volume turned up, turn them all off. If I have a tab with my email open, I’m going to pop over every time I see that I have a new email. The same thing goes for Facebook notifications.
And if I hear my text tone go off on my phone, I’m going to check it right away. Once I’ve closed those tabs and turned the volume off, I’m able to zone in on my work and I no longer miss the distractions that were costing me a heck of a lot of work time! Whatever emails I missed will still be there in an hour when I’ve published my blog post.
Trust me, I know this is more difficult than I make it sound. I certainly don’t do this every time I’m working, even though I should. But I’m definitely more productive when I do!
Know How You Work Best
At this point in your life you probably (hopefully) know how, where, and when you are most productive. Use that to your advantage as a scenario in which you are least likely to succumb to distractions and most likely to get more done in a short amount of time.
When it comes to blogging, I know how, where, and when I work best. I work best at my dining table, where I’m forced to sit up straight. I’m also facing away from the TV when I’m sitting here, so I won’t turn it on to have something going in the background. I don’t work well early in the morning so rather than getting up a couple hours earlier in the morning, I do my blogging in the evenings.
I like to listen to music while I work, but it has to be instrumental or I’ll find myself being pulled into the lyrics and it’s way harder to focus on my writing.
The most productive workspace looks different for everyone. You know how you work best, so try to work in that atmosphere as often as possible, especially when you have something that needs a lot of focus.
Schedule in Time For Distractions
Productivity is sort of like dieting. If you go on a diet that’s too restrictive, when you do cheat, you’re going to go way overboard. Productivity is the same. If you try to completely eliminate anything that is a distraction or isn’t a productive use of your time such as social media or Netflix, then you’re going to eventually hit a wall where you want to do nothing but those things.
Instead, schedule time for distractions. Tell yourself that if you put in one power hour of super focused, productive work, then you can scroll through social media for a few minutes. Or if you spend a few evenings per week kicking ass at your side-hustle, then you can spend one evening just binging on your favorite TV shows.