Master Class

Deep Focus

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4
Lesson

Day 4. Dealing with Life’s Distractions

As stated at the beginning of this course, distraction is inevitable.

How you cope with it is entirely up to you.

Thankfully, there are several things you can do to regain your focus.

Tuning out distraction is easier than you think!

Day 4:

In today’s lesson, we’re going to be exploring some ways that you can put an end to the distractions that have been hindering you.

Start with these four simple steps which work with any distraction:

1. Realize You’re Getting Distracted

The minute you notice that your short foray into something else has turned into a distraction, stop right there.

2. Ask What You Should Be Doing

Is there something else you were supposed to be doing right now? What is that?

3. Make a Conscious Choice

Tell yourself it’s time to focus on something else now.

4. Decide What You’re Going to Focus On

State your goal. If you don’t have a clear view of what you’re setting out to accomplish, you’re only going to get distracted all over again.

If this seems a little too simplistic, try some of these distraction busters designed to reduce the time spent in distractions, and in some cases, reduce the times you grab for those distractions.

Meditation

You already know meditation does great things to improve your focus.

That’s the point of meditation. What you might not realize is meditation affects your ability to maintain concentration in every aspect of your life.

You don’t even need to spend vast amounts of time in it to gain the benefit. Even 20 minutes will do the trick! With better focus, you’ll be less distracted in the first place.

Set Down Rules

If you have a pretty clear idea of what your common distractions are, the easy solution is to create some guidelines.

If you get caught up on checking email, then only allow yourself to look at it at certain times of the day. If it’s gaming on your phone, either set a timer or if need be, delete the worst offenders.

Only you know what you need, so don’t be afraid to set your own rules, regardless of how silly they might seem. Keep in mind, rule-setting means you’re trying to establish new habits.

Don’t expect overnight success.

A habit takes several weeks to form to where you don’t have to think about it anymore.

Use a Timer

Did you know your brain really can’t concentrate on the same thing for longer than 90 to 120 minutes?

It’s no wonder you get distracted when you’ve been working at something for a while. Limit your time on projects and then allow yourself a break.

By using a timer, you’re telling yourself when and where you can have your break. This keeps you bright and alert where you need to be.

Cut the Multi-tasking

The idea that you can do everything at once is so last year.

Seriously, whatever you’ve been told about multi-tasking is a lie. It just doesn’t work.

Pull your focus into one thing at a time, to keep distractions to a minimum.

Take Notes

Afraid that if you don’t do something right now, you’ll forget all about it?

Simple, make a note of it. Keep a notepad or use your phone to keep track of random ideas you want to remember but will distract you if you work on them when you have them.

Write down what you need to and simply move on with what you were doing.

You can take a look at your notes during a break time and use them later to determine a better time to deal with whatever it was you were thinking about.

Shut Down

Turn off the electronics, let your co-workers, friends, and family, know you’re busy and get to work.

Don’t be afraid to shut the router off completely if the internet is too much of a distraction.

Shut the door to your office.

Do whatever it takes to protect your time so you can focus.

Start the Day by Setting Objectives

If you’ve been having a hard time getting things done because you’re too distracted by the randomness of your schedule, but don’t know where to get organized, start with something simple.

Set three main objectives for your day right when you get up.

A limit to goals keeps things from getting overwhelming.

Also, you’ll have clearly defined goals, enabling you to work with intentionality that helps you accomplish what you’ve set out to do.

Not sure where to begin?

Start by making a list of what you need to do. Once you have that in front of you, number everything on there in order of importance.

Your focus will be on the top three.

Don’t worry about the rest—they’ll get done when you have your first three done, or maybe those items will wind up leading tomorrow’s list.

Let those go for now and keep your focus on your top goals only.

Shorten Your Deadline

To many, this one seems terrifying. Why would you want to push yourself to get something done?

If you’ve heard of Parkinson’s Law, you already know work will expand to fill the time allotted.

By giving yourself less time, you’ll find yourself getting more done, in a shorter timeframe.

Working like this can be a crazy experience; you don’t have time for distractions when the clock is running, which is precisely what you’re looking for.

What Are You Thinking?

We’re experts at distracting ourselves. In fact, according to a Harvard study, we spend about 50% of our time thinking about what we’re not supposed to. Oops!

How to combat a wandering mind?

You start by becoming more conscious of your thoughts.

When you recognize you’re getting distracted and off into left field somewhere, it’s time to bring yourself back on task.

With practice, you’ll be able to train yourself to stay more focused (maybe meditation would help?), and you’ll find yourself thinking more about what’s important and less about what isn’t.

Train Your Brain

If you’re like most people, your attention span isn’t what it could be. Unfortunately, a world of social media and short interactions has gotten us to where it’s getting harder and harder to concentrate for long periods.

Here’s where you need to teach your brain how to focus without getting distracted consciously.

You can start by using the Pomodoro Method.

Use a timer to keep you on task by setting it first for a shorter time, such as 45 minutes of straight-up work, followed by a 15-minute break.

If that’s hard initially, don’t be afraid to set the timer for something smaller, such as 15-minute increments of work followed by a 5-minute break with a gradual increase on-time working (with a corresponding increase on break time).

The timer makes it feel a little bit like a game.

If you’re competitive, you can use this feeling to your advantage by trying to see how much you can get done before the timer goes off. See if you can beat your record the next time out.

Try Napping

If you’re tired, it’s nearly impossible to keep your mind free from distractions. Of course, the ideal would be to get enough sleep at night. Barring that, a power nap (even at work!) can do wonders for perking you up so you can get done what you need to.

Again, you’ll need to set a timer.

Studies have shown resting only 20 minutes will reset your mind and leave you feeling refreshed. So will 2 hours of sleep. Anything in between is likely to leave you feeling groggy.

This happens because you wind up waking during inconvenient times in the sleep cycle. These numbers aren’t firm since everyone has different cycles based on how long it takes them to get down into REM sleep.

You might need to experiment a little to find out your ideal time.

Play Something

Instrumental music or even something to create white noise will help to block out audio distractions, especially if you’re trying to concentrate someplace crowded where there’s a lot of noise.

Use headphones to play something on repeat that keeps you energized but doesn’t become a distraction itself.

This is why it’s essential not to choose music with lyrics.

Regulate Meetings

Whether you’re in a workplace or need to connect with clients, meetings can become a distraction simply because you wind up engaging with people in a very different way than you do over text or email.

Also, meetings tend to meander, taking up more time than you think they will, not to mention how long it takes to get back into a ‘work’ mode of thinking afterwards. To keep a handle on meetings, schedule them all on the same day of the week if you can.

If this isn’t practical, try to cluster meetings, back to back, so you don’t lose quite so much time in trying to get your mind back into the game afterwards.

Relax

If you’re frantic for distraction, maybe it’s because you need it.

Your body might not be tired, but your brain might be.

Perhaps you’ve been concentrating too long on one task and need to think about something else for a while. If you find you’re really having a tough time settling down, give yourself fifteen or twenty minutes to relax, doing something you enjoy.

But don’t get too immersed in mindless distraction. Things like smartphones are addictive and don’t help you restore your energy.

Instead, try taking a walk or picking up a book and reading a few pages to get yourself into a different headspace.

Use Your Calendar

When you don’t want your day to get away from you, grab your calendar, and put things where you can see them.

Schedule your tasks (allowing enough time for each), so nothing gets left out or ignored.

When you set out a schedule, you leave less room for distraction. Remember to block out time for things unrelated to your goals, such as sleep or time to eat.

You’ll be less likely to skip meals or stay up too late if you have these things already in place on your calendar.

Remember the Big Picture

If you know where you’re headed and set down weekly goals as well as daily ones, you keep your motivation high and keep distractions such as boredom at bay.

After all, there’s something you want out of life, or you wouldn’t be working so hard to attain it.

Remind yourself frequently what that is and why it’s important. Just don’t get lost in daydreams about the future while you’re there!

As always, keep things in perspective as well.

Take Time for You

This is probably the most important item on this list. If your health suffers, you won’t be facing distraction so much as a disaster.

You simply can’t accomplish anything if you’re tired, hungry, thirsty, worn out, or sick.

You absolutely have to take time to eat right, exercise, drink enough water, and sleep. Without this, none of the rest matters.

Now, let’s take some time to dig deeper into how you can stop distractions in their tracks.


Day 4 Exercise: Saying Goodbye to Distraction

Distractions can seem impossible to escape. Especially with the rise of technology, they’re now hiding around every corner.

So how can you evade these distractions?

With our help, you’ll be getting the hang of it in no time. In today’s exercises, we’ll be exploring which distraction busters work the best for you.

Let’s dive right in!

Step 1: Setting rules for yourself can really boost your productivity.

Below, list two new rules for yourself that you can implement while working, to avoid becoming distracted.

·       Rule 1:


·       Rule 2:


Step 2: In Lesson 4, we discussed how setting goals for the day can help you to stay focused.

Below, set three goals for tomorrow that you think will help you to stay free of distractions.

·       Goal 1:


·       Goal 2:


·       Goal 3:


Step 3: As long as you aren’t obsessing over it, having a “big picture goal” can help you to stay motivated throughout your day-to-day activities.

Below, brainstorm some ideas as to what you want out of life.

Brainstorm Your Ideas Here: