Have you ever decided that today will be the day! The day to sit down, focus, and tackle that to-do list. The day to begin to cross off every item as you complete it. The day to feel a sense of accomplishment!
Your calendar is clear, you have the time to focus, and you’re looking forward to the relief you’ll feel when you complete that last item.
The next thing you know:
- the phone rings; it’s a client with a question.
- a text message comes in that you need to answer.
- your laptop notifies you of a new email.
- an employee walks into your office to ask you a question.
And before you know it, it’s lunchtime, and your to-do list has yet to be touched.
Distractions are one of the leading killers of productivity. You have many things coming at you, and they keep you from focusing on what truly matters.
How can you complete the essential items and eliminate the distractions?
Here are 5 tips to get on track and eliminate distractions.
Tip #1: Plan Your Day the Evening Before
Confirm your schedule and tasks to be completed the day before. This can be a very helpful trick to keep you focused the following day.
You don’t have to plan out every decision, although when you review your schedule and make simple choices the evening before it will reduce distractions the next day, and have your mind begin to solve problems as you sleep.
- Get your clothing and lunch ready, to jump out of bed and go with minimal thought
- Review your schedule to ensure you have what you need for your appointments and meetings
- Plan for the top three projects (or to-do’s) that will get done and document what is needed to complete them
These decisions can be harder to make when you’re tired in the morning and can easily occupy your thought processes. Your subconscious mind will be processing items overnight to help prepare for the next day.
Tip #2: Eliminate Social Media
2 hours and 22 minutes a day! That is the new estimate on how long people spend on social media each day. That’s great to know if you are trying to reach new or existing customers, but a terrible one for productivity.
Social media is a great tool for marketing and sales, but…
- Constantly checking your notifications
- Taking the time to respond to each post you’re tagged in or comes across your feed
- Endlessly scrolling down the pictures on Instagram
…will not help your productivity or your business.
Social media is a significant time suck and can be a huge black hole. Notifications, and social media in general, can be incredibly addictive.
Here are some strategies to help you manage your social media time:
- Schedule a time for social media before lunch, and the end of your work day – for example, between 11am-Noon and 4-5pm
- Use built-in tools on your phone to monitor or restrict social media use like “iOS Screen Time” and “Android Digital Wellbeing”.
- Turn off notifications, so the distraction of constant “dings” is not pulling at you.
During the work day, only use your business social media accounts to engage with real customers, tweet about your newest products, and post beautiful pictures. After that, put your phone away and focus on your other tasks.
Tip #3: Create and Hold to Your Boundaries
You can not remove yourself from communication during the day, although you can set your boundaries.
Block your time so that you give yourself periods during your day when you don’t check your phone, emails, or instant messages.
Some entrepreneurs choose to work on their scheduled important to-dos before checking emails or going onto social media. Completing what is important for the day, prior to adding new tasks.
Choose the rhythm that works best for you and stick to it. It’s essential that you have quiet time to complete tasks without outside interruptions.
If your schedule allows, plan to leave at least one day a week meeting free. Keeping an “open” day will provide you with time to complete tasks and stay productive.
Tip #4: Create a Productive Space
If you’re working at home or in an office, it’s essential to create a space where you can feel productive.
Productivity produces productivity.
In other words, if you can create or find a space where you can be productive, your brain will associate that place with productivity. Whenever you are in that space, you’ll associate it with the good feelings you’ve had when you were able to push through the work.
Keep your fun places, and your workplaces separate and make your workspace conducive for work.
If you want your workplace to promote work, keep it tidy. A cluttered or messy space will distract you. Even if you don’t feel like you have to clean it up, the disorganization will keep you from getting to your tasks.
Tip #5: Schedule Time to Play
Humans aren’t programmed to work all the time. While a few successful individuals are all about work without play, we’re not geared to be that way.
It’s important to take time to play!
In his book, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Psychiatrist Stuart Brown, the founder of the National Play Institute, writes, “The truth is that play seems to be one of the most advanced methods nature has invented to allow a complex brain to create itself.”
Play relieves us from our burden of work and opens us up for creativity. Some workplaces have areas at work for play, like Google. These spaces were created to reduce stress and foster creativity at work.
Dr. Brown also explains in his book:
“…there is a kind of magic in play. What might seem like a frivolous or even childish pursuit is ultimately beneficial.
It’s paradoxical that a little bit of “nonproductive” activity can make one enormously more productive and invigorated in other aspects of life.”
Most people that work constantly and do not find time for enjoyment become frustrated and unproductive. And ultimately find the workload unsustainable.
There are several things that entrepreneurs can do to combat this:
- Make work enjoyable. Find ways to make work pleasurable and exciting as opposed to drudgery work.
- Plan for breaks during the day. Go outside, take a walk, eat a good lunch, or take a window shopping break.
- It may seem like these are distractions from the day, but when coupled with intense work sessions, they are something to work forwards.
- End your work day. Choose a time each day to set aside your work and be finished. It’s important to have personal time for you and to interact with family and friends.
- It’s also essential to enjoy relaxation, play, and leisure. This gives your body and mind time to rejuvenate from the workday and start fresh the next day.
- Take vacations. Schedule times during the year for pleasure, and are non-work times. Discover ways to have fun. Set aside the emails, phones, and messages to focus on enjoying your relationships and other things in life that matter to you.
You may never cut out all your distractions, but limiting them can significantly enhance your chances of success. Reduce social media, limit communication, and make time for play, and you’ll soon see that your productive periods are a lot more successful.
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