Our world is full of distractions – distractions from work, from play, from our goals. Short of putting yourself into extended solitary confinement until you finish everything you need to do, here are a few ways to block out the noise and keep yourself focused.
Lock yourself away!
I know, I know – I just said that extended solitary confinement was not a remedy for an unfocused brain. But it is totally feasible to find time for yourself, even if it’s only for a few minutes per day. Carve out a time to clear your head and sort out your priorities every day, whether this means quietly writing your to-do list while eating breakfast, or taking an hour go outside or to exercise, or shutting the door to your office in order to give yourself a private workspace.
If your office space permits, headphones are a great way to cut out distractions is to put on a pair of headphones and listen to music or muffle ambient noise. They also signal to your coworkers that you need space to focus or make work calls, which hopefully will buy you at least a few minutes at a time to stay focused on your work. Just make sure that you are being respectful to your coworkers and are not blasting your music or conversations throughout the office.
Set Micro-goals and a Schedule
I’ve discussed micro-goals before – they are an exceptional tool for staying focused on your larger goals, and for making your to-do list feel less overwhelming. Break your overarching goals into micro-goals and write them into your calendar, and fit them into your daily schedule, along with meetings, calls, and anything else you must do in a day. The next step, “Using a Timer” can help you stick to your schedule.
Use a Timer
Timers are wonderful – set one for 15-30 minutes (the Pomodoro Technique suggests 25 minutes, but trial and error will help you figure out how you work best), hyperfocus on your activity, and when the buzzer goes off, take a break, or switch to the next activity – but remember to set another timer for your break so that you don’t get distracted again. Proper time management skills, which we will discuss in the coming weeks, will help immensely with staying focused.