Starve your distractions, feed your focus

(c) Matthew Henry

We live in the era of distractions. Thanks to social media and the enormous amount of interesting, useful and entertaining content out here, we find difficulties in focusing on daily responsibilities. However, it’s not the only problem. Once in a while we can spend few hours offline and participate in real life.

But real life might be a problem too. We might be distracted by a friend who wants to hang out, go to the cinema or attend a wild party. And we go no matter the responsibilities we have the next day or the same evening.

I cannot argue, distractions usually seem attractive and full of life. There’s nothing bad in spending few hours in a bar, scrolling a little bit more on Instagram or checking the email one more time before going to sleep.

However, every time you bypass your bed time, you do not feel energized the next day. As a result, you cannot work or get a little bit closer to your dream coming true.

Every time you check social networks, you do not hear what your friends are talking. As a result, you become distant. No one wants to hang out with a person who cannot put down the phone!

Every time, you read a book or watch a movie, you are distracted by beeping notifications. Of course, you check it ASAP. As a result, you cannot get into the book or movie fully.

Thus, if you recognize yourself in these situations, you should pay attention to these five aspects of your life and fix it. I did not invent these tips. They are old and well-known. However, sometimes we need to read the same information numerous times in order to follow those tips!

# 1 Turning off notifications

(c) Wilfred Iven

Notifications from various social networks are exciting. However, they are one of the biggest distractions that prevent from focusing on your work, personal project, exam or even reading a book for your pleasure.

For many years I believed that Facebook is not a distraction and continuously beeping phone is convenient because I have the latest information who interacted with my content. However, I got older and realized that I was wrong.

Imagine that someone is poking you while you’re working or someone singing next to you while you are on a business call. That would be annoying, right? Of course, you won’t be able to focus and do your job properly until these distractions disappear.

Notifications have the same effect. When your phone beeps, you get excited and curious. Thus, you cannot focus and do what you are supposed to do. Keep in mind that you can do more in a day if you turn off notifications and set the time when you can check what’s going on in an online world.

You need discipline and strict rules when you can check your accounts and how much time you can waste (or spend) there without causing negative effects to your responsibilities and goals. Meanwhile:

  • Close the tab with Facebook. I know you have it. Close. CLOSE IT!
  • Go to your phone’s settings and turn off push notifications.
  • Delete unnecessary apps from your phone.
  • Install apps that count how much time you spent online and stared at your phone.

#2 Keep your workplace and home as tidy as possible

(c) Jan Vašek

Don’t get me wrong. You do not need to become a pedant that worries about dust, cups put on the wrong shelf and messy drawer full of unmatching black socks. I am talking about basic cleaning and organizing tips that prevent from chaos.

Yes yes yes.  There are many discussions on this topic. While one researchers claim that messy people have creative minds and can do more during the day,others tell the opposite. Thus, you can find enough evidence to prove your point. However, as a creative person, I truly believe that chaos should have limits.

Whether you have to work, study or chill after the tiresome day, you should not see tons of dirty dishes laying the sink, find half of the wardrobe’s items hanging on your the one and only chair or spend hours looking for that tiny piece of paper with important information hiding under the piles of other documents, biscuits and who knows what laying on the table.

Imagine that you become thirsty while working on the project. You go to the kitchen to grab a glass of water, and… you cannot find a clean glass. While you find the least dirty one and give it a water treatment, you become irritated and most likely quench your inner fire to work more. Thus, once you get back to your table, you most probably grab your phone and start scrolling.

I strongly recommend learning to spend 10 minutes each day to put stuff in their places. Dirty dishes to the dishwashers, clothes to the wardrobe (or washing machine), files from the Desktop to the Recycle Bin (or Trash) or necessary folders, you name it. When everything is in the right places, you will not forget the color of your table and can easily find everything that you need.

#3 Having daily / weekly / monthly plans

(c) Matthew Henry

If you’re a control freak or just a very busy person, you may not survive without a daily planner. In order to focus, you need to prioritize your priorities (I love this saying, Leta!) and just do it!

However, if you are like me who does not have too many responsibilities, plans or never-ending to-do lists, you may find weekly schedules handy. I suggest finding the best way to categorize your weekly plans in these categories:

  • The most important tasks, such as paying taxes or going to the dentist.
  • Shopping list. I recommend creating separate lists for groceries and other stuff, such as beauty products, presents, etc.
  • Things you want to do, for instance, reading 20 pages of a book. Because we all do not have time for ourselves and things that we love. Make it a challenge and find the time!
  • Exercise dates or time per week. You need to move it move it. Write it down and feel ashamed if you won’t move it move it. Trust me, one day you will go for a run or at least do ten push-ups.
  • Beauty time. Every girl needs time for herself to make sure that her nails, eyebrows and other problematic parts are in the right shape and form. And if you are a boy… Well.. Make sure that you shave, have a shower and visit hairdresser regularly. Or just skip this girly point and write down something for you.

Talking about monthly plans… If you are a dreamer like me, you should create this one too! However, at the end of the month, you should not feel disappointed about yourself if you can cross out only a few tasks. Just change the name of the month and feel accomplished already!

#4 Having enough sleep

(c) Jay Mantri

Surprise surprise! Feeling energized and rested undoubtedly helps to focus. When you have enough sleep, you should not fall asleep reading long financial documents no matter how boring they are. If you had a good night sleep, you wouldn’t be visiting the coffee machine every hour. Having enough sleep makes you enthusiastic and allows you to do more during the day.

If you do not sleep enough, you cannot remember things; you cannot learn and make important decisions. You may not be driving safely and lack of creative ideas. All in all, you won’t be productive and focused without enough sleep. What is more, you might soon become grumpy and start fighting with everyone. Thus, to avoid these problems, you should have a routine and follow it.

No matter how childish it may sound, but you should get up and go to sleep at the same time. It helps your body, soul, and mind to have a proper rest. Of course, weekends might be a little problem when you are young. However, it’s your decision to make – to party till the morning or find another leisure activities in order to reset and start the new working week full of energy.

In order to get enough sleep you should also:

  • Avoid watching movies or scrolling Instagram an hour before sleep.
  • Sleep in the ventilated room (comfortable bed is also a must!).
  • Do not hit that adorable snooze button in the morning.

Set a pleasant alarm sound. My phone has one extremely annoying alarm melody, so trust me. I know what it likes to feel annoyed before even waking up. It’s not a good start of the day!

# 5 Learning to say NO

(c) Julian Jagtenberg

I think this is one of the most important tasks. Learning to say NO means that you do not accept more responsibilities or projects that you can at the moment and do not exchange your priorities and plans to others’ desires.

People are just like social media. They may need your attention during the busiest hours of the day or when your to-do list needs to be written on the one roller of the wallpaper. If it’s your friend who’s calling, it might be hard to say no. If it’s your boss who wants you to work extra hours, it might be even harder to find the lie why you CAN’T. However, you should think more about yourself, be brave and politely say NO.

However, when you are put in the situation where you need to choose your wealth and other’s expectations, always choose yourself. If you agree to work longer hours for a particular period of time, there’s a huge chance that you will be expected to do the same in the future.

If you agree to meet a friend or attend a wild party, you will be expected to be available all the time. The truth is, you have your own priorities, plans, and desires. Thus, you should not give up on them only to make others feel happy. If you have an important meeting the next morning, you should go out, drink and dance till the morning. The same rules are valid for the exercise class and other planned events.

Of course, these distractions might feel like a fresh air; an exciting adventure and a great memory. If you do not have anything else planned, so why are you still here?! GO GO GO! If you have other plans, you have to think a little. If this little adventure helps you to climb the career ladder, build your empire, pass exams, get into the university, be a good wife, mother, etc, say YES to it. If not, it’s time to learn to say no politely and focus on what matters to you at this specific time of your life.

Bonus insight: you cannot be focused 24/7

(c) Brodie Vissers

Usually, we talk about the importance of being focused when we are talking about work or study. However, it’s also important in your personal life. In order to achieve your goals, you have to learn to rest and recharge yourself. In order to find the joy of the achievements, you have to find something great in each day that is not related to your work.

You might be like the ancient NOKIA 3310 that needed charging only once a week. But you might be like an iPhone that needs electricity at least once a day. Thus, focus on yourself and take your time to have a proper rest. As I have mentioned earlier, when you feel rested, you can conquer the world.

Therefore, if you cannot focus, you should take a break and take a walk without your phone. I recommend taking a notepad and a pen. When fresh ideas and plans start popping up, you will be able to write it down like an old-fashioned freak and transfer to your planner to make it happen!

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