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Easily distracted? It is annoying because distraction is a significant obstacle to productivity. It often comes back in the answers when I ask readers the question: “what do you find difficult about productivity?”
I struggle with it often enough myself. In this blog post, I want to share with you the top factors that get you distracted easily and what tips can help you reduce this.
Easily distracted by yourself or by others?
In principle, you can be distracted in two ways: by internal or external derivation.
- External distraction:
You are distracted by others. That can be offline (someone talks to you or you receive a call) but also online (you receive an e-mail, you see a message on social media, etc.).
- Internal distraction:
You are distracted by yourself and your thoughts. You think, for example, that you still had to do something, you feel like doing something else, or whatever.
What can you do about external distraction?
External distraction is the easiest way to solve, namely by closing yourself off as much as possible. That can be done in different ways:
- Sit in a quiet room without other people
- Tell people you don’t want to be disturbed
- Turn off notifications on your laptop and phone
- Put your phone out of reach
- Turn off the internet
- Remove apps that only distract you
- Block distracting websites in your browser
And so on! Choose which of these ways you think is the finest and most effective and use these.
What can you do about internal distractions?
Internal distraction is more difficult to tackle because, of course, you cannot just close yourself off from your own thoughts.
With the internal disturbance, it is good to find out what the cause of your distraction is, and then respond to it. Three possible reasons are:
- Frustration: it doesn’t work, you don’t get it, it’s too complicated, in short: you’re frustrated and tired of the task
- Exhaustion: you need a break
- Obstacle: it doesn’t work for a while, and so you want to do something else
If you are distracted by this, you can approach them in the following way.
Easily distracted by frustration
Have you been distracted because you have become frustrated about your task? Then see where precisely the frustration comes from and tackle it.
For example, if the job is too difficult, know how you can make it easier or (partly) delegate it. If you do not understand what to do, see if you can ask someone for an explanation or perhaps search the internet for more information.
Distracted easily by exhaustion
Do you feel that you have been busy for a long time and therefore merely tired? Nobody can concentrate for hours on end and cannot be distracted.
Accordingly, plan a break. Keep track of how long you can work focused on succession and plan blocks of this duration. This can be 25 minutes, as is the case with Pomodoro technology, but also 15 minutes or an hour. Take a break after this time period.
Here you can nicely take a look at your phone or get something to drink or eat.
Getting easily distracted by obstacles
If it doesn’t work out for a while and do you think “then just on Facebook”? That’s a little curse of the 21st century by all devices we become redirected to something else if something does not work.
Pro tip: Train your perseverance by agreeing with yourself how often you can use social media.
Also make it difficult for yourself by, for example, turning off the internet, blocking sites and putting your phone away.
Easily distracted while learning?
Are you easily distracted during learning, and are you looking for tips on how to do this more focused? Then below are two tips that can help a lot in education.
Choose a nice place
The advantage of being a student is that you are probably reasonably free to choose a place where you want to learn.
If you like to work in silence, sit at home in your own room or in a (silence) library. If that doesn’t work well, you might be able to learn in an auditorium or canteen at school, provided that you are not distracted by classmates or classmates.
Become unreachable; turn off external distractions
If you are currently studying, there is a good chance that you do not know better than that you are always reachable through your telephone, and that you can always reach the rest of the world.
But that is not particularly useful when learning! So become unreachable.
- Phone: Turn off notifications on your phone, but the thing on airplane position and put it away as far as possible. Giving it to someone else can also be very effective because the fact that you are looked at can make it easier for you to stay away from your phone.
- Laptop: Also turn off the internet on your system if you use it for learning. An app with which you can block social media sites or other sites that distract you can do wonders.
Finally, try to do as much offline as possible, because that automatically reduces the chance that you will be distracted.
In addition, there are several studies that show that you remember things better when you write than when you type.
Easily distracted during your work?
If you have a job that requires a fair amount of concentration, distraction can get in the way of your work performance, and that can be very annoying.
That is why I share a number of tips that are especially suitable for less distraction in the workplace.
Are you distracted by your colleagues?
Colleagues can be charming and fun (at least that’s for me :-)), and that creates a pleasant working atmosphere and undoubtedly a lot of creative ideas.
But sometimes that coziness is not handy either; for example if you want to focus entirely on a task. A few tips:
- See if you can sit in another room. Sometimes there are specific spaces with one desk that are intended for this. Is that not with you? Maybe there is a meeting room empty or the area of a colleague (who has his own workplace)?
- Work on with earphones or headphones. Immediately gives a signal that you do not want to be disturbed!
- Ask your colleagues to leave you alone. Be clear why and for how long. I am sure, they won’t find it a problem?
Turn off mail or internet
In many workplaces, it is always reasonable to have your mail open. I also notice that I often do it at work. But that is really too bizarre for words.
Actually, this is your institution: “Everyone can send me something at any time that distracts me from what I am doing.” And it doesn’t matter if it helps you, if it is useful for you and if you can panic immediately.
If you want to focus on something and don’t want to be distracted, having your e-mail open is actually the stupidest thing you can do. But really!
Take one step further and turn off the Internet. For some jobs and for some tasks this will be impossible because it is entirely on the internet but think about the possibility of doing this.
The significant advantage is that you cannot go to your favorite sites on autopilot. Whether that is Facebook, a trading blog, or an overview of results; it distracts you from what you are doing.
Work with deadlines
Do you know that feeling just before your holiday: because you still have to finish so much, you are very productive, and you get a lot done.
Why does that not always work? Well, because just before that vacation there is a strict deadline for the tasks you have to complete, namely the day before your vacation starts.
See if you can integrate this into your daily work. For example, make a list of 3 tasks that you have to do today, or set a deadline for each job. At what time should you get rid of the task?
If that is not enough motivation, consider why you should complete these tasks. For example, because otherwise, you will not get everything you want to do today, or because when the job is finished, you still have time to work on a fun project.
For the extra motivation, you can even write down the time and put it away with you; then you can no longer ignore it.
Make it negotiable
I bet your boss will also find it annoying that you have the feeling that you cannot work correctly?
If you are really extremely distracted, discuss it with your supervisor.
Maybe something can be done about your workplace, such as sitting in another room or working from time to time. Or perhaps you can start thinking about certain norms and values in the office, for example, how often there is internal mail.
General tips if you are easily distracted
I also have some general tips for you that can help you to be distracted less quickly!
Get up early and eat healthily
I can always focus so much better if I feel that everything is going well, that I am in control.
When I get up on time, start my day well, dress nicely, and eat healthily, I immediately get the feeling that everything will be fine. It allows me to focus better on tasks, and therefore I am not distracted.
This, in contrast to when I slept through my alarm clock and ran through the house to get everything done. I have the feeling that I am lagging behind and that things are not going well anyway, so I get less motivated with other tasks.
Maybe other things give you the feeling that you are doing well. Take a walk around, or use your phone later in the day.
Do that what makes you feel good, and you will find that you can also focus better on other tasks.
Put your (worry) thoughts out of your head
Are you often distracted by your own ideas? “Oh, I still have to do this …” or “Don’t forget to …”? That can be very annoying if you are working on something that requires some focus.
Put these thoughts out of your head as quickly as possible! Put a sheet of paper next to you or open an additional document on your laptop, on which you can put all these thoughts out of your head as quickly as possible.
Otherwise, your brain will continuously try to remember all these thoughts at the same time, and you will, therefore, be less able to focus on what you are actually doing.
Once written down, it feels like a closed case, and your brain releases it. Need to read your written ideas later, of course. The Getting Things Done method and the Productivity ninja method work around this principle, so definitely recommended for you to read it.
You can do the same with worrying thoughts. Are you worried about things, or do you have doubts about something? Put them on paper and let it go.
Social control rule
Social control can be very annoying, but it can work very well. Ask your roommate/partner/colleague to tap your fingers as soon as they see that you are doing something other than what you should be doing.
Sit together with them in a room, ideally just along at the table, so that you cannot do anything else for a moment. I bet, you can suddenly focus much better?
What also falls a bit in this category: I notice that I am often less easily distracted at work than at home. How is that possible? Partly of course because I am working and cannot just do other things, but also as everyone around me is busy working.
This productive atmosphere is essential. Test if you are less likely to be distracted in another environment, even though you may not be working in the office: in the library, in a coffee shop, in a joint office building where you can rent a desk or space. There are plenty of options.
Make sure you get in a flow
If you are in a flow, you can focus so well on a task that you are no longer very aware of the world around you. Because of this, you will not be distracted.
Although it will be difficult for some tasks to get into a flow, you can do your job a little differently to get more into that flow. Certainly worth trying, especially with large and extensive tasks.
Continue again after you are distracted
But what if it’s already too late? You have just spent fifteen minutes on Facebook or other sites that did not contribute to what you were actually doing.
Perhaps you even ended up here out of despair, while you are so distracted ;-). How do you continue then?
Set a timer now
It can be very tempting to read this and watch it now, to chat with your colleagues because now you’re busy. Recognizable? Then set a timer NOW (that is fine with any device – no excuse to grab your phone if you don’t read this through your phone).
I don’t care how long, as long as you go on with what you were doing as soon as it goes off.
Walk a bit
If you are distracted, and I mean mainly an internal distraction, you may not be able to think clearly for a moment.
For example, if you are exhausted or bump into something complicated. Then don’t go straight to social media, but get up and walk a bit and grab a drink.
When you return, you have just had that little bit of rest, so hopefully, you have more energy to get started, and you will have less distraction.
Put your phone far away
Are you usually distracted by your phone? For example, do you read this article on your phone? Immediately as soon as you lock your phone again, place the device as far away as possible (out of reach), as soon as you cannot grab it again just a few minutes later.
Sounds simple but works great for the lazy person ;-).
Stop it as soon as you become aware of it
Do you have social media open, or are you poking around everywhere and nowhere?
As soon as you become aware of this, close everything immediately. It doesn’t matter if you actually wanted to read further or not.
You don’t miss anything shocking. Yes, you have to close this blog too! We are still at the end :-). Work them!
I hope this blog post had helped you get rid of distraction. Please comment below what are the difficulties you are facing while working