A strategy for overcoming distraction…for good

By Kat Knights writer, tutor and mentor at Professional Academy

Distraction is a problem and it’s one that’s getting more difficult to overcome. In a world filled with attention grabbing apps and computer pop-ups our ability to focus on any one thing for very long is rapidly being eroded. What does this mean? It means if you can master a strategy to overcome distraction you will stand apart from your colleagues and achieve your greatest goals. Read on to learn how to become indistractable.

Tell-tale signs that you are easily distracted

You fire up your computer on Monday morning knowing you have a big presentation to write…but first of all you’ll just check your emails…45 minutes later you’re still looking at emails. Your brain feels exhausted and you still haven’t started your presentation, in other words you’ve been distracted.

Checking emails is ‘pseudo’ or ‘busy’ work. The kind of work that doesn’t really achieve anything of great significance.

Instead, you need to be prioritising and focusing on the REAL work. The work that will help you and your organisation achieve the big goals. Real work can feel challenging but it is ultimately the most rewarding and fulfilling.

Here are some classic signs that you might have a focus problem:

  • Everything on your to-do list look of equal importance and you struggle to prioritise
  • You frequently leave tasks unfinished
  • You procrastinate
  • You spend most of your time completing ‘busy work’ and not ‘real’ work

A strategy for overcoming distraction

1. Start with some quick wins

Your environment has a huge impact on how you behave. Look around you right now. What do you see? The chances are your phone is one of them and it’s also your number one enemy when fighting the distraction battle. By identifying your triggers and removing the physical and digital clutter that takes you away from the task in hand you will achieve some quick wins to help you on your path of eliminating distraction.

Here some other tips and tricks you can try: turn off notifications on your computer, close down your email client when you aren’t using it, use apps like StayFocusd that limit the amount of time that you can spend on time-wasting websites.

You could also consider writing a manifesto that outlines your new approach to working, it might read something like this:

  • No calls or meetings before 11am
  • No meetings longer than 60 minutes
  • No phone in sight when working

2. Be absolutely clear on your goals

A big cause of distraction is rooted in the fact that most people simply aren’t clear on their goals. Your goals should be the single most important thing you think about each day and the majority of your work should be taking you towards achieving those goals.

Be absolutely clear on your direction and where you are ultimately headed. I’d recommend having some quarterly goals and then weekly goals that are linked to them.

3. Remind and reinforce

Most of us think that motivation alone will get us over the finish line and help us achieve our goals. The truth is it will really only help you get started. Habits are the thing that will keep you going, especially for the long term.

Every morning create the habit of reminding yourself of your goals. This will reinforce them and set the intention in your mind to take action on them that day. You might also have your goals written down somewhere and put in a place where you can see them  throughout the day too, for example on a mirror or stuck to a cupboard door.

A strategy for life

The strategy outlined is simple and easy to follow but most people fail to execute it. However, those who can will stand themself apart from others as they navigate their way through life with greater ease and success than those who don’t.