It’s tough to be productive if you’re constantly distracted. The proliferation of devices, apps and messaging services has created a seemingly endless source of potential distractions. For many remote workers, digital distractions have caused productivity to nose dive.
It’s a daily battle. Studies have shown that frequent mobile device checking is driven by uncontrolled impulses. Fortunately, impulses can be conquered. The following are four methods that will help you stay focused and productive — and keep distractions at bay.
Establish a Prework Ritual
The first step in loosening the grip of distraction is to create a clear divide between distracted non-work time and focused work time. You can achieve this by sticking to a morning ritual before you start work.
To design your morning routine, first think about the common distractions you encounter on an average day. Reflect on how to minimize or remove these distractions — could you switch off notifications, put a device on silent or place it out of reach?
Jot down the actions you need to take to minimize each type of distraction and then work through the list before you start your day. Consistently complete this routine to turn it into an automatic ritual.
Schedule Specific Breaks for Checking Messages
Although removing immediate distractions through your morning ritual is vital, you’re still likely to feel the urge to check messages or read notifications. The instant gratification that the Internet gives us has trained our minds to crave distraction.
To make this craving easier to deal with, schedule regular breaks where distractions are allowed. For instance, when feeling a desire to check social media, you can remind yourself that a break isn’t too far away.
Train Your Self-Discipline
While the urge for distraction can be incredibly powerful, it doesn’t have to be permanent. Each time that you give in, you strengthen your future impulses a little. The opposite is also true — every time you fight back the urge, you reinforce your future resolve.
Think of fighting distraction as self-discipline training. Every impulse defeated is a small victory for your self-discipline. Over time, the urges will become less frequent and ultimately disappear altogether.
One effective routine for training your self-discipline is to decrease the frequency of your distraction breaks slowly. Each time you wait a little longer for your next distraction, you train yourself a little harder. It becomes a challenge, which layers in a vital source of motivation. If you’re always trying to outdo your previous best, you’re far less likely to give in to the urge for distraction.
Remove Physical Distractions
Although electronic distractions are becoming increasingly common, physical distractions still exist. If you frequently find yourself playing with an item you found on your desk, consider tidying up your work area.
Any item can be a potential distraction. Limit the items in your work area to those that are vital for getting your work done.
No Pain, No Gain: Keep Training to See Results
However deeply ingrained the habit of distraction is, it can always be reduced and removed with training. Approach the problem like an athlete trying to improve his or her technique. Aim for greatness, and you’re sure to succeed. Success means spending less time on work and more on doing the things you love. Defeat distraction and watch your productivity skyrocket.