Productivity Coach Michelle Broadbent shows us how to stay focused.
For my fellow Sydney-siders, we are back to managing working from home and all the distractions that come with that. If you are finding yourself easily distracted right now (and who could blame you?) then here are some tips for staying on track this week.
Set yourself up for success by working from a clean, clear workspace. Ideally you want an office or area of the house dedicated to work but it’s not always possible.
We get distracted when there are things around to divert our attention from the task at hand so remove the physical clutter. Keep your desk clear of everything other than what you need for the task you are currently working on and have everything else neatly packed away. This includes the dangers of working from home – laundry, food, household mess. Do not allow any of it in your line of sight. Put it in another room and close the door. Out of sight out of mind.
Setting yourself up with a clear objective for your day or portion of the day is going to help you stay on track and avoid digital distractions. Working with no purpose means it will be very easy to get distracted.
Time blocking your To-Do list to ensure you are covering the most important things is a great start. You can gamify things by setting yourself an objective to complete a task then race against the clock or reward yourself when it’s done.
Switch off notifications or if you need to be really focused, put your phone on airplane mode or out of sight. Limit the number of times a day you check emails and don’t have work emails on your phone so you don’t get pulled into work during your downtime. Introduce friction by using programs to block you from using particular apps or websites. Your iphone has a Do Not Disturb function, start with that or use apps such as Freedom or Self control to make it harder for you to default to those sources of distraction.
Make time for the distractions. We are humans not robots and there are shiny objects like Instagram or the Iconic website that we want to scroll through or washing that needs folding. Make time to do these things at opportune times in your day. You could scroll Insta while you wait for the kettle to boil but then say to yourself once I’ve made the tea, the phone goes away. Or listen to a podcast or webinar while you are folding the laundry.
Schedule a Power Hour each week to take care of all the scrappy admin tasks that can take us down a rabbit hole and distract us from work if we do them in an ad hoc way throughout our regular week. Think things like bill paying, filling in forms, changing service providers, making personal appointments, etc. Bundle them all up and do them at one time during the week.
The “co-workers” in your household can be a huge source of distraction. The most important thing to do here is to communicate. Whether it’s your partner or children, share your objectives and explain what you need ahead of time. Set a timeline so that your family knows when you are available to them and when you are in full work-mode.
I say this as a mother of older children. If you are dealing with toddlers that is another story. The electronic babysitter will help but please remember that you don’t need to do all of this on your own – to share the load with your partner. I also suggest lowering your expectations and focussing only on the most important things. We are in survival mode.
If you are not working from home but in a noisy office full loud talkers and typers (why do people have to hit the keys SO loudly??) try to position yourself as far away from them as possible. If this is not possible, noise cancelling headphones are your friend here.
Do you have any distraction prevention tactics that work for you? I would love to hear them – feel free to reach out and share.