You likely suffer from the same dilemma as many people in today’s digital, 24/7 world. Despite the fact that you always seem to be doing something, so little of it seems to be productive, or you might not be achieving what you want to achieve because you find yourself torn between endless distractions and novelty. The feeling of underachievement tends to grow and grow as you lose your capacity to truly focus and complete the tasks that you need to. Whether it is essential work to be done around the house, or finishing a creative or business project that could change your life–you just can’t seem to find the time to do something you really want to do.
The first step is to forgive yourself! All of us feel the pressure to explore the new world of unlimited content and 24/7 updates that is now available to us. If you’re a curious person then you want to see what’s out there, particularly as it relates to things you want to achieve. But if you find yourself combing through endless research and realise that it is merely a distraction that keeps you from finishing the task, then you need to get ruthless. Here are some tips to reclaim your productivity.
Get some digital discipline:
1. Turn off notifications on your phone–think about it, most of the time it’s nothing that can’t wait until later.
2. Limit your computer use outside of work hours. When you want to work on a project after work try good old pen and paper. This will also make it easier to wind down when it’s bedtime.
3. Figure out what’s distracting you in your environment and block it out. If you live on a busy street the sound of sirens and people talking might pull you out of your focus zone. Use earplugs to prevent this. Studies have shown that once you are distracted, it takes 25 min to settle fully into the task you are working on. According to a survey by RIFT, 40% of people complain about noise pollution to their residence.
Rediscover the attention span heavy things you love:
1. Did you know that concentrating on a good book is the same as concentrating on a very difficult task? Reading builds attention span so don’t feel guilty about making more time to read.
2. Meditation is a great way to wean your data addicted brain from bright screens and instant messaging. Spend at least 15 min each day just sitting and focusing on one calming thought.
3. Exercise is a great way to focus and physically pull yourself away from your digital life. Try a form of cardio like running, swimming or cycling or try yoga in combination with tip number 2, meditation.
Your attention span will take a while to build back up but once you begin to feel more calm and find yourself thinking about your e-mail inbox less and less, you will find that the time you do spend working on work or personal projects is much better spent. Remember that rest is essential to performing at your best and a brain that gets too little rest cannot function optimally. The best thing you can do? Get a full nights sleep.