Eliminating Distractions

By eliminating distractions you can fill your day with important work and you can get back on track and complete more high quality work while 'working'.

I advocate to work in small time bursts. The Pomodoro technique is an excellent method for doing so. Work 25 minutes non-stop with as few distractions as possible followed by a short but active break.


Preparation is half the battle

Eliminating distractions is easy, you just have to do a little preparation.

Tend to your physical needs. Fill up a glass of water, go to the toilet, open/close the window, adjust the heating. You know your own body best, therefore make sure you provide what it needs to work another timeburst.


Eliminate Simple Distractions

Depending on the work, you need to cut everything that catches your attention. Therefore, close your e-mail client, silence your cellphone and put it out of reach, put your regular phone on 'occupied', close facebook, chat clients... and so on.

Work on a clean desk. Clutter on your desk is distracting. Make it clean and empty. Only keep the stuff on your desk needed for doing your work.

If you can't concentrate where you work now, consider changing locations. Try to work in a place where you won't be disturbed. If you need social control, consider working at a public library. If you need silence, consider locking yourself up in a room with a 'don't disturb' signal.

Make a closed todo list and vow only to work on the items on your list. Not knowing what you have to do is as much a distraction as an interrupting co-worker is.


Eliminating Distractions While Working

Work on a single task at a time. Finish it. Then and only then start on the next item. Avoid multitasking as much as possible. It seems that you lose up to 20 minutes each time you switch tasks. Avoid it at all costs.

Eventually, you will be distracted, when it happens: write down what distracted you and try handling it later. Why do you need to write it down? The first though about the distraction is impulsive. By writing it down, you force your brain to think in a more logical way about the distraction. It is easier to resist the impulse this way.


Increasing Your Focus and Self-Control

Get some sleep. In order to stay focused, you need to be well-rested. Try to sleep between 7-8 hours a day. Go to bed early and rise fully reloaded.

Eat healthy. Your body runs on food, if you give it rubbish, it will run badly. If you give it high quality nutrients, it will perform at its top. Threat yourself as a top atlete. Because you are worthy of it!

Meditate to train your self-control. You can easily train yourself by using the 'breath-focus' exercise for only 5 minutes a day. Sit straight on a chair with your hands in your lap. Close your eyes or focus on a single point on the wall (not the television) if you are afraid to fall asleep. Focus on your breath. Say the words 'inhale' and 'exhale' in your mind when you inhale and exhale. After a while, you can drop the words, but stay focused on your breathing. In the beginning, you won't be able to focus a whole 5 minutes on your breath, the exercise is to bring your focus back on your breath. Therefore, the worse you are at meditating, the more you'll practice your self control.


Relax To Reload

After a period of highly focused work, you need to relax your brain. Like a muscle, it will reload its power and get stronger after a rest-period. Don't spend your breaks doing the same thing you do for work. For example: Browsing the internet when you work on a pc. Go out for a little walk, go chat with someone, call your partner... Do something you really enjoy.

Don't forget to prepare for your next brain workout in your breaks. Tend to your physical needs!

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