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Easily Distracted? 10 Ways to Stay Focused

Easily Distracted? 10 Ways to Stay Focused Lately, I haven’t been very focused. I’m distracted. Sure, I’m getting my work done, but I’m also doing a bunch of other stuff that is completely useless to achieving my goals. For example, today I’ve been updating my planner, working on vacation plans, watching webinars, and reading a bunch of online articles. I did very little of the writing that I had planned to do this week.

One of the worst things about distraction is that we often don’t realize it’s even happening. It sneaks up on us and, before we know it, the day has gone by and we have nothing to show for it. Click To Tweet

But we can change that. Once we are aware that we’re letting distractions get in the way of our priorities, we can focus our attention with an intention to actually get things done.

The Root of Your Distraction

If you’ve got a distraction habit, do you know what its root cause is? Mine tends to be fear: fear that I don’t know what I’m doing, fear that I’m going to mess everything up, fear that people will notice my mistakes and look down on me for them. I know that it really doesn’t matter if I screw up — everybody makes mistakes — and my value as a person isn’t tied to my success. But it still gets me every time.

Distractions can also be caused by the fear of missing out. What are you afraid of missing? Many of us spend way too much time surfing around online to make sure we don’t miss anything, but what exactly is it that we’re looking for? Usually, it’s just a lot of other people procrastinating and making sure they don’t miss anything. I love cat photos and funny gifs as much as the next person, but are they really something I need to be constantly on the look-out for?

None of these things actually matter. What matters is feeling content with what we have and using our skills to help other people. We need to be learning every day. We need to be compassionate to those around us. And we need to start taking action instead of just sitting around thinking and posting on Facebook.

Once we are aware that we’re letting distractions get in the way of our priorities, we can focus our attention with an intention to actually get things done. Click To Tweet

To-Do Lists

I’ve talked a lot in the past about keeping a to-do list as a way to stay focused, and I still think to-do lists are essential. But here’s the thing about to-do lists. Those tasks are only going to get done if you schedule them. If you don’t make the time, they’re not going to happen. You have to be intentional about accomplishing them, or they simply won’t get done.

I have a hard time sitting down to write, every day. It’s a struggle. It’s on my to-do list almost every single day. The funny thing is, I know exactly what I should be doing, and I even help other writers do it. But instead of doing it, I have a list of articles and blog posts I’d like to write “someday” and a fully formed outline for my new book that I haven’t been able to sit down and actually fill-in. Are there items on your to-do list that distraction is keeping you from accomplishing?

Overcoming Distraction

Here are a few tips to get you started overcoming the distraction habit.

  1. If you’ve got a web browser open (don’t we all?), start by closing as many of those browser tabs as you can. Bookmark things you want to read later and let the rest of them go.
  2. Close those social media sites and news sites. You don’t really need to visit them 10 times every day.
  3. Schedule time to check email, social media, read the news, any of those little habits you tend to do throughout the day. Don’t use them to fill the time, or to distract you from more important tasks. Write down when you’re going to do them, and for how long. Put that in your calendar or post a sticky note somewhere that you’ll see every day and follow that schedule.
  4. Take time every day to get outside and go for a run, take a walk, go on a bicycle ride, play with your kids outside, whatever you like. It’s important to get outside every day at least for a little while, and this is coming from the queen of staying inside. The fresh air will refresh you so you have more focus to work.
  5. Make time every day to read. I’m guilty of mostly reading on my iPad because I love electronic books, but it’s also important to read a paper book once in a while. Close the screens and just read a book like we did back in the good old days.
  6. If you’re having trouble staying away from social media, set up a blocker app or find a place to work that doesn’t have Wi-Fi. You can even try turning off your router. It’s amazing what happens when you don’t have access to the Internet.
  7. Check your phone and delete all those little apps that you waste time on. Remember Candy Crush? I could waste hours on that game. Maybe it’s not a game that distracts you. Is it social media? Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Delete those apps from your phone now, at least as an experiment. Same goes for the iPad. Try it for a week, and see if you get more time back to focus on more important things.
  8. Eat without your electronic devices. No phones, no iPads, no television. Pay attention to what you’re eating and notice the textures, the flavors, and the colors of your food. Remember that eating is an essential habit to nourish your body, and it can be a good time to focus your mind as well.
  9. Think about what is truly important to you. We try to be everything to everyone, but in reality, we may actually be accomplishing nothing because we are not focused. We’re not going to make any of our dreams come true if we don’t pursue them. What is one big thing you want to work on right now? Is it something you can focus on for the next month? Can you break from the distractions and actually focus with intention on these activities?
  10. Write it out. For example, I need to be spending more time writing. I have a book that needs to be finished. My main ways to distract myself and procrastinate are Facebook and Pinterest. I really can’t delete all of my social media, because a big part of my job is being online, running Facebook communities and helping clients via social media. I have to be online. But I do need to set up some boundaries so that I am not online all day long. It’s too easy to use “work” as an excuse to surf the Internet for hours on end, at all hours of the day. So I’ll set a boundary. I’ll be online for work between 9 am and 5 pm. I’ll schedule additional writing time outside of that 9-5 schedule, without the Internet or social media open to distract me. No TV. No Facebook.

What distractions do you need to get rid of to actually get something done?

Easily Distracted? 10 Ways to Stay Focused

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