It’s hard to find time during the day to really get into our work. We are constantly distracted by notifications, people, and boredom. Once we lose focus on a task, it can take up to 25 minutes to get back into a state of flow. And if we continue to change tasks, how are we ever supposed to get back into a state of focus?
Thankfully, there are simple ways to reduce distractions and create a schedule that allows more productivity during your day.
Create phone boundaries
Do me a favor and check out your screen time usage. It can be alarming to some. That’s why there are a bunch of magic tools you can utilize to create phone boundaries and limit distractions.
The first is setting app time limits. If you find yourself suddenly on Twitter with no recollection of how you got there, you might have a focus problem. Set time limits on each of your apps through the screen time program. You’re guilt tripped any time you go over that time limit, so it really helps you be more mindful about your habits.
The second is limiting notifications. Within your settings, you can control which apps send you push notifications and sometimes how often they do so. If you can, eliminate push notifications on emails, social media, and text messages. When you don’t turn to your phone after every bing, you can stay on task and use other times to check your stats.
The third is extreme, but airplane mode is a great way to silence all distractions. On airplane mode, you are forced to turn off all distractions. If you aren’t waiting on a call or needing your phone to complete your work, this is a great option.
Establish a focus schedule
A focus schedule is a set period of time you program into your day where you refuse all distractions. You close your office door, shut off your phone completely, close all notification apps on your computer, and get to work. When you schedule this time (you can put it in your calendar if you have to, but also communicate with anyone you work with about this time chunk), you are guaranteeing yourself a set period of uninterrupted work. Give yourself a buffer on each end, especially if it takes you a minute to get your work set up or if you get on a roll and need a few extra minutes to finish your task.
Set your 3 MITs the night before
MIT is Most Important Task, and there’s a reason you need to declare them the night before. By setting up your intention for the next day, you have non-optional tasks that you must complete that day. These are the tasks that you do first, and you can’t move on until you’ve completed all three. Only then can you add tasks to your plate one at a time.
Setting your 3 MITs the night before guarantees that you have a schedule and a direction the next morning. Instead of farting around figuring out what you’re going to do first, you have a list ready to be worked on. Establishing these tasks early helps keep you focused on the right things. You’ll better resist the pull of non-critical tasks and stay on target.
Clean your office
If you’re interested in a more in depth piece, check out my previous article on the how and why of decluttering your office.
The gist is, having a clear space that you look forward to going to helps get your mind right for the tasks ahead. It might not fix your other work problems, but at least you’ll dread working in your space a little less. You’ll maximize your time and focus during your day.
Take mindful breaks
The way I make sure to take mindful breaks and give myself time to recover is by drinking 30 oz of water during each focused time. Drinking water doesn’t become a distraction, but more of a background necessity to eliminate mind wandering. I have water so I don’t need to get up and walk around. Plus, it’s healthy.
It also helps that after drinking a lot during those focused moments, I have to pee. I use that time to recover from my task, stretch my legs, refill my water, and mentally prepare myself for what task I need to focus on next. I make sure that I get enough movement in, stretch what I need to, and sit back down ready to move on to the next task.
For example, I researched and wrote this post in one focused time schedule while drinking my water. I have now reached the point where I might need to get up and use the bathroom.
If you want to find more focus during your day, there are steps you can take to create healthy boundaries and eliminate distractions. Take control of your time and focus with schedules, mindful breaks, and clean spaces. Reclaim your time and be productive.