Note to self: Stay focused.

5 Tips on Staying Focused in an Increasingly Distracting World

Absentmindedly, you reach for your phone. You open your favorite app. Nothing has changed since you last did this 10 minutes ago, but you kind of forgot that you’d just done this. So, you open a different app… but you were just there, too. Does this sound familiar?

Sometimes, we convince ourselves we’re being super productive by staying up to date with the latest news and happenings on social media and responding to emails immediately. The reality of the matter, though, is you are distracting yourself from bigger things.

When you’re at work your focus should be on work. When you’re at home your focus should be on your home life. It’s time to take back control.  We all get into some bad habits which come so naturally and not until we stop, become self-aware that we realize that something needs to be done, something needs to change.  Let’s review the next 5 ways to get a handle on your busy life.

  1. No More Notifications

Open your phone settings right now and go in and turn off notifications. You don’t need an update about who sent what Tweet yesterday but it’s time for you to see it now. You don’t need a constant stream of distressing news updates breaking your focus. Check your social media at set times, do the same for email, and ignore it the rest of the time.

  1. A Healthy Routine

You can improve your focus by establishing a healthy daily routine. When you set your routine and you get used to it you don’t have to waste time thinking about what comes next. It’s why people like Steve Jobs did and Mark Zuckerberg does wear the same outfit.

  1. Prioritize and Plan

What does your day look like? What is on your to-do list? The best way to avoid distractions is to rank your tasks in order of priority. It can be overwhelming when you think about all of the things you need to do, by putting them in order you remove the stress and overwhelm.

  1. Say No to Multitasking

You might think you’re being some kind of productivity ninja, but neuro research has repeatedly proven that the human brain is not designed to multi-task. To make it worse, modern society has grossly exaggerated the benefits of multi-tasking as a great time-saving strategy. You see, when it comes to tasks that require cognitive effort, our brains can’t do more than one thing at a time. So, if your attention is constantly flicking back and forth between tasks; task switching causes fatigue, exhaustion and agitation. 

Your Brain on Multi-tasking**

Although switch costs may be relatively small, sometimes just a few tenths of a second per switch, they can add up to large amounts when people switch repeatedly back and forth between tasks.

Thus, multitasking may seem efficient on the surface but may actually take more time in the end and involve more error…..even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.

  1. Take a break and Renew

As a neuroscience coach, I often refer to the Pareto Principle as a guideline to help my busy clients decide what they should be focusing on and prioritize their daily tasks.  The Pareto Principle says that if you do and focus on your top 20% of you to do list, it will yield you 80% on your efforts.

When your schedule is going haywire, when the world is throwing distractions in your face it’s difficult to take a moment for yourself. However, renewal is vital. As your energy dips, memory is fading, and you can feel the stress creeping in, it is important that you withdraw from that and take time to regenerate.

In reality, we are almost constantly multi-multi-tasking, doing 3 or 4 things all at the same time.   That is why we are constantly are tired, anxious and generally more negative.   Do yourself a big favor, try to enjoy some of your day.

“Stop and smell the roses” may be a cliché, but several new researches suggest it’s sound advice for finding satisfaction in life.

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