Distractions are everywhere. Whether it is your smartphone, your computer, or your smartwatch. When you are about to start writing a report, your phone beeps, and you immediately turn to it. Thirty minutes later, you are still on your phone and that report is still lying there waiting for you.
While it is true that some notifications are important and we need to respond. But this hyper-connectivity should not come at the expense of your productivity. You don’t need to be online when you are studying from books or when you are about to go to sleep.
Here are the few simple ways to kill distractions and focus on the tasks at hand.
1. Try a Distraction-Free Phone
You don’t need to buy a flip phone. You can convert your smartphone into a distraction-free phone by deleting social media apps, games, and streaming apps like YouTube.
With a distraction-free phone, you can turn back the clock to a simpler time when it was easier to unplug and sustain attention while also enjoying the best of modern technology.
We find ourselves in bed bouncing around a loop of the same five smartphone apps, checking for updates again and again until we snap out of our trance. We may fall into a similar mindless loop on the internet — switching between news websites, IM conversations, and social media — Chris Bailey
2. Clear Your Homescreen
Move all icons from your home screen so it goes completely blank. It should only display your wallpaper. In this way, you are less likely to be tempted to click an app icon.
If you need to keep some icons on your home screen be sure to keep as few icons as possible.
3. Wear a Wristwatch
Wearing a wristwatch will stop you from turning to your phone for checking the time so you will not be pulled into distractions.
If you wear a watch, you can keep your smartphone out of sight. And when it’s out of sight, it’s easier to ignore.
You don’t need a buy an expensive wristwatch. A cheap watch will do as long as it shows time.
3. Skip the Morning Check-In
You may be tempted to check your phone to see if there is any new notification or if there is something new in the world. But the moment you turn on your screen, a war breaks out between your attention and everything on your phone, and a minute of checking could extend to an hour.
Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.— Gertrude Stein
5. Cancel the Internet
An extreme focus tactic is to cancel your internet connection.
You don’t necessarily have to kill your internet for a month, just unplug it when you want to do a task that doesn't require internet.
You can use your undistracted time to write fiction, design something or invent something.
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes — including you.” — Anne Lamott
6. Deal with Email at the End of the Day
A lot of email stress comes from thinking you need to constantly check and immediately respond to every new message.
Treat your email like old-fashioned letters that were used to deliver to you once a day.
Technology should exist for our convenience, not for the convenience of anyone who wants to interrupt us — Chris Bailey
7. Be Slow to Respond
Don’t reply immediately to every email and message. Reply within hours, days, and sometimes weeks.
Not every message and email is relevant to you. Most of the time people contact you for their priorities, not yours.”
Every time you check your email or another message service, you’re basically saying, “Does any random person need my time right now?” (Ref: Make Time)
Keep in mind, the fewer messages you sent the fewer messages you receive.
8. Make TV a “Sometimes Treat”
Watch TV occasionally. Don’t organize your living room around the TV.
Cancel your cable and Netflix subscription. Instead, rent or buy movies.
Your attention is one of the most valuable things you possess, which is why everyone wants to steal it from you. First, you must protect it, and then you must point it in the right direction — Austin Kleon
53. Avoid the Lure of Fancy Tools
There is no perfect tool or app for productivity. It feels like we are busy but in reality, obsessing with finding the perfect tool is also a distraction.
Don’t spend your entire day searching for one perfect app because there isn’t such an app. Just start your task.
9. Start on Paper
We work better when we use paper and pencil instead of screens. Precious time is wasted changing the fonts or searching the web instead of working on your project. Paper is a simple way to write or draw.
Next time you’re struggling to get into focus mode, put away your computer or tablet and pick up a pen.
10. Make a “Random Question” List
If you feel the need to browse anything from the internet or check any social media update, write that down on paper. You can browser that thing later when you go out of your focus mode.
I understand from my own experience that it’s natural to feel twitchy for your phone or browser. You’ll feel a burning desire to know Who was that actor in that movie?
Instead of reacting to every twitch, write your questions on a piece of paper. You can browse your questions once you come out of your focus mode.