Article written by Tiffany Ghrist
Have you ever imagined why your workdays spiral out of control? Do you plan your day sometimes and notice that you are distracted within just a few hours? Do you find yourself procrastinating or find it difficult to concentrate on your tasks? Does that sound like what usually happens to you?
Now, imagine yourself at the end of the day, breathing a sigh of relief, knowing that you’ve accomplished everything you need to. Again, how will you feel knowing that you are on top of all your activities while executing them effectively? Of course, you will probably sleep well at night with your mind at rest.
Did you know that you can be more productive, and effective in executing whatever task you set out to do, rather than being tired behind your office desk with piles of unfinished projects? There are several ways in which you can improve your productivity and effectiveness on tasks. Yes, it is possible, and that is what I plan to share with you today.
For two reasons, many people are not as productive as they wish, or think they are. The first reason is that the default setting or our mind is in a scattered state, and we are reactive about it, instead of being proactive. The second reason is that many bad habits interfere with our productivity. These two reasons are what keep drawing people back from their goals and prevent them from being productive.
The importance of being productive can’t be ignored, both in our personal and professional lives. If you run a business or are responsible for a team, you will want to ensure that everything goes according to plan without ignoring your productivity level. This is because your level of productivity is what will determine your level of success.
As we go through life, a lot of distractions and factors will inevitably want to contribute to why we can’t be productive. However, if you are aware of how to tackle these distractions, you can easily shield yourself from them, and become more effective and organized in your tasks.
Now the question: how can we become more productive, focused and regain control? Please understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, as only a systematic approach will work. However, it starts with putting our minds in order and substituting some reactive habits with good ones.
Do you want to know how to put your scattered mind in order and be able to focus better? Do you want to learn how to substitute those habits that keep you from being productive for the ones that will increase your productivity? It starts with understanding the real reason we are distracted.
Why we get distracted:
We have got things inside-out when it comes to how to be more focused. Even though our Facebook, Instagram, thousands of notifications, phone calls, WhatsApp, and what have you constitute the majority of what distracts us today, they are not the real reasons for our distractions.
What if I told you that our mind is responsible for the majority of our distractions, according to research conducted by two Harvard psychologists. Psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Matthew Killingsworth discovered that the human mind is wired to be continually distracted.
These two psychologists researched with 2,250 adults, and it was concluded that we spend around 47 percent of every waking hour “mind wandering.” This is also known as “stimulus-independent thought.” When our mind wanders, we don’t even notice it because it is so natural and ordinary to us.
Mind-wandering is fantasizing about that dream company or position you hope to have in a few years, or waiting at the gate for your plane. It is driving in your car thinking about how you forgot to reply to some emails in the morning. It is picturing yourself in a conference call sitting on a bench in Bali with a cocktail. We can all recognize this state because it is mostly the default mode of the brain.
Tips for Managing Distractions as Women in Business
Try to identify the top 5 things that keep you distracted when you are trying to work on important tasks. We all have our vices. We, therefore, have to design a no-distraction strategy for ourselves. You may consider these few ideas.
· If you are always distracted by your boss, family members or colleagues: You can approach this scenario this way. Have them agree on a “no distraction” time with you. Encourage them to use coffee breaks and lunch to talk things with you and agree on which questions are classified urgent. An example is the time someone is entirely blocked to continue with a work that needs urgent attention. Also, agree on the topics to be discussed in your weekly meetings.
· If you get lost in YouTube binges or distracted by social media: Tools like OFFTIME and StayFocusd can help you limit the time you spend on certain apps or sites.
· When you feel the urge to usually reply to every mail the moment you see them: You need to schedule a time slot for replying to your emails, and systematically work through them all at once. Turn off your email for the rest of the day or install a tool such as IFTTT to send you a mail when you receive an email from your investor, priority clients, or boss, for example.
Employ the Pomodoro Technique
This is one of the most powerful techniques that can help you focus on a task at a time. This is how it works: split your tasks into 25 minutes’ intervals. Then set a timer and shut off all your distractions. Take 5 minutes to break after your Pomodoro, before starting another one.
This technique works effectively because of its gamification. There are even apps that can help you using this technique such as Focus Booster, Focus Keeper.
Take Care of your Body
A pain-ridden, tired, sleep-deprived body is a great recipe for killing your productivity because it leads to an increased level of stress hormones, impaired memory, and decreased mental ability to focus.
Talk about distractions! Therefore, prioritize proper nutrition, exercise, sleep, and off-time to recharge your battery if getting stuff done is important to you.
Increase your Mental Focus Through Mindfulness
Taking care of your body is as important as taking care of your mind because an inspired, focused, and calm mind is the basis for working distraction-free. Calm your monkey mind with journaling, yoga, meditation, and getting out of your head every week by enjoying nature, and taking time away from the screen, and spending time with your loved ones.
Being unfocused comes with a price. You need to get clear on what you want and focus your time, attention, and energy if you want to be ultra-successful. If you want to achieve your goals, live a successful, and happy life, you need to learn how to put your mind in order and focus on your tasks. The mind has the natural tendency to be loaded with both important and unimportant activities, thus bring about continuous distractions and waste of time.
To effectively handle the situation of putting the mind in order and focus, we have to take proactive steps and be deliberate about the approaches that will be employed. With these techniques, my goal is to help you maximize your time, and help you achieve more with less. You will be glad you did.
About Tiffany: After spending years in Corporate America as a Process Improvement and Implementation Director, I now help Female business owners get out of their heads and into action by providing coaching, personalized project plans, and accountability that allows them to regain control of their business and give them time back in their day to focus on gaining clients and growing their businesses.