It’s typical for someone who needs to do something to take longer than they might actually need to because they get distracted. It happens to everyone and is understandable, but that doesn’t mean we don’t all wish it didn’t happen.
Sometimes this comes from fear of starting something or the fear that getting too focused creates a train of thought that becomes too crucial to your work and you don’t want to lose it.
What I’ve learned works best for me that I am willing to share with you is that I expect to get distracted. So what do I do?
I go through a list of distractions in my head and eliminate them and set up the perfect work environment for me to pound out work.
Take 30 Minutes To Get Rid of Distractions
Before I start an essay for a class or a post for my blog, I do what most people typically do and try and get a few things done that I know would eat at my focus while I work.
But in doing so, somehow most people do a couple things in the heat of it, and end up feeling like they are rushing to get to their work. This is the last bit of free time before you start, so you should take your time and actually enjoy it.
I’ll do a couple things like taking out the trash, feeding my dog, or cleaning a surface that I might be working on. A lot of the time, this is actually more beneficially to me because I might neglect to do this later, and if I’m preparing myself to be in a productive mode, this is a good time to get a few things done.
Getting rid of distractions doesn’t just entail doing the tasks at sight, but thinking about what has been eating at you today, and seeing if there’s something you can do really quick to make sure that doesn’t come back into your mind.
If I’m worried about a class, I might double check that I don’t have an assignment because stopping halfway through a blog post to think, “It’s Thursday. How sure am I that I don’t have something due tonight?”.
I can shrug it off and say I’ll check later, but its still there in my brain clogging some of what I am trying to keep in my mind all at once. If I know it’s going to be a distraction, I do what I can beforehand to reassure myself that I have enough time to sit down and work.
The distractions you should be getting rid of should come to you if you do a few tasks or bits of cleaning, and at the same time, reflecting on everything you might have take your attention away while you work.
Take A Break Before You Start
A lot of people would advise against this, but to me it works so I continue to do it.
I am pretty lazy. That doesn’t mean I can’t ever get work done. I just need the time to empty out all the last bits of “one more video”.
This also gives me a bit of time to do something like eat or make a drink so as to not have to stop working for a reason I can’t otherwise push away.
Putting pressure on yourself trying to get work done is similar to a finish line that just results in bad focus and rushed work.
I may or may not – depending on what it is I need to do – give myself a set time to start something. Even then, I’ll set it maybe 15 minutes before I actually think I might start.
It’s similar to setting your alarm a lot earlier just to give you time to hit snooze a few times before you get up. I expect to still want to relax for a little bit.
If I have a bit of time leftover before I start, I might even just lie down on my bed for the remainder of the time because I might regret having not taken the last bit of it once I am working.
In a way, taking a break before, is like a really long countdown to when you are going to start. You want it to last longer or you might get to 0 and do the countdown one more time, but if you make the countdown a bit longer than it needs to be, you’ll enjoy the last little bit of time and flush out the last bit of laziness you have in your system.
Set Up An Atmosphere For Work
After having done a few things around the house, taken some time to sit back, now is the time to use the last 5 minutes for making a positive environment for your work.
Once I get ready to start and sit down, I might decide to get white noise running through my headphones to keep all other sounds out and keep me focused. Or I might get a playlist going of songs that aren’t distracting, but relaxing or energy boosting.
Even then, it can still be very hard to keep focus, so give yourself something to keep your focus grounded.
While I’m writing, sometimes I might trail off on a thought that I’m not sure if I should write down or not. But in doing so, my eyes wander off what I am doing and something catches my eye that needs my attention.
What I do to stop this, is I give myself a magnet for keeping my focus on what I am doing, even if I stop doing it.
An example of this that I typically do, depending on how distracted I’ve been during the day, is I light a candle or incense on my desk so I have something to gaze at that isn’t distracting.
It might be distracting how the smoke rises up and the ash falls off the stick of incense, but looking at it doesn’t eliminate my focus. It gives me some visual to keep my eyes still while I am still fully immersed in my head.
A candle or incense isn’t going to give me a notification that I just have to check. It’s just something there to act like a stop sign when I look at it, because it doesn’t stop me from progressing, but keeps me in check for when I do periodically stop.
Maintaining focus can be annoyingly difficult, but it gets inside peoples heads when they believe they’ve done everything they can to get focused on their work and not have to worry about a distraction.
It’s when you predict the distractions before they happen and take the time beforehand to get all of them off the list, that there’s nothing to even stop and go check.
Keep your mindset by taking the time to get to the point of being focused. Don’t rush to it and force your mind to stay on track if there’s something that you believe might become a distraction when it’s too late to have already taken care of.