Unless you aren’t human(I think most of us are), you encounter distractions from time to time that minimize your effectiveness in getting your work done.
The internet is especially disruptive with email, messages, status updates, friend requests and more. Distractions also include your co-workers, family, and our own wandering minds. It seems that we dwindle our lives away five minutes at a time.
The big question is how to conquer this tendency. How can you make use of the wonderful world of the Internet constructively without falling victim to its many distracting qualities?
Try turning these three strategies into daily habits that will potentially help you become more efficient and effective:
- Use time limits. When we set a time limit, we actually improve our ability to focus. It almost becomes a competition of ‘beat the clock’. Ideally, you should try using a timer and limiting your work periods to around 25 or 55 minutes – with a 5-10 minute break in between tasks. If a task is going to take longer than 55 minutes, break it down into smaller chunks. This has helped me tremendously.
- Having a time limit also forces you to do the most important parts of any work. If you only have an hour, you’re going to have to decide what’s most important. This is much better than deciding to simply work on something that’s least important until it’s done. Decide how long it should take, and then set that timer.
- If you have any sort of attention challenges, using a timer can increase your ability to keep your mind on the task at hand. The time really flies by, and you’ll get a lot more done. In many cases you’re likely to even find it relaxing since you’ll be focused on what you’re doing instead of thinking about 20 other things.
- Research has shown that the most productive schedule for most people is:
o 50 minutes of work
o 10 minute break
o 50 more minutes of work
o 30 minute break (You might not be able to get away with a 30-minute break especially at work, but it’s a perfect time to get up, walk around, and get a drink.)
- Make Sure You Time your breaks. If you decide to check your email or do one of those other tasks that seem to magically go from 5 minutes to 30 minutes or more, using a timer will serve as a solid reminder. It will also force you to only check on the things that are most important at that time.
- Close EVERYTHING that can be closed. Everything on your computer that isn’t necessary for the task at hand should be closed down. If you don’t need the internet, shut it off. That includes all your email, notifications, games, and blogs. Close your door and unplug the phone, if possible. This is by far one of the biggest challenges for most people especially techies like myself!
- Nothing is going anywhere – it will all still be there when you’re done. One of the keys to being more effective is eliminating the things that make us less effective.
- Insert a pause, as needed. When you first implement these habits, there will be times that you will have the urge of a lifetime to check your email, Facebook, or Twitter.
- Before you succumb to the urge, take 10 seconds and pause. Take a long, deep breath and ask yourself if you really want to waste your time on something that is largely meaningless, or if you’d rather accomplish something worthwhile.
The ability to focus has been largely lost for many of us. However, these formed habits, which anyone can do, can go a long way toward improving your focus and effectiveness at any task.
It’s likely to be pretty challenging at first, but you can do it. You can get more done, in less time, by learning to improve your focus and avoiding the things that waste your precious time. Time is truly your most precious commodity.
Put these three habits into play starting today. Don’t give up if they aren’t implanted in your daily routine right away. Constant persistence and practice will eventually make them a part of your life. In the end, you’ll be impressed by how much more you can get done!
To learn more about how you can really bust those bad habits for good and create good ones, click here for a FREE E-Book that will show you how