It seems like there’s always another distraction. We live in a world where just about everything is accessible immediately, and it’s really hard not to take advantage.
Not only that, but with smartphones in our hands it’s practically impossible to have any distraction-free time. Bored standing in line at the grocery store? Waiting at the doctor’s office? Sitting at your kid’s soccer game? Chances are your default is to look to your phone.
Distractions are everywhere, from the way it’s easy to lose 30 minutes to Facebook when you’re just checking in, to how you can get distracted when the TV is on in the background. One of the keys to being more productive is increasing your ability to focus deeply on one thing.
You might be surprised at how much it can help you to develop better focus.
Why You Should Develop Better Focus
All the distractions we have often leave us feeling scattered. Attention is regularly siphoned off to other tasks or activities. We think we’re multitasking, but we’re really not. Instead,
Instead, our brains switch tasks when attention shifts. This means that there is a good chance that you are working at a shallow level, and that you are less productive and your work is of lower quality. If you can develop better focus, you are more likely to get through your work better by concentrating on one thing at a time, and you are likely to do a better job on top of it.
Tips to Develop Better Focus
If you hope to improve the way you focus, part of it is finding ways to ignore distraction in your everyday life. It’s not just about getting away from the Internet while you work (although that can be a big help). Here are some ideas for practicing better focus, and re-training your brain so that it doesn’t think it always needs to be distracted in the first place:
- Avoid the smartphone first thing: It’s tempting to check your phone first thing in the morning. However, that sets the tone for being distracted throughout the day. Avoid the phone for the first 15 minutes of the day if you can, allowing you to set your intention for the day. Plus you can avoid getting sucked into Facebook and unimportant emails.
- Notice the things around you: Instead of reaching for the phone the moment you get some down time, notice what’s around you. Pay attention to your surroundings and be in the moment. This can be especially effective if you are outside or if you are attending your child’s activities or games.
- Create tech-free zones: Choose to unplug for some of the day. You can do this by make tech-free zones (avoid having phones at the dinner table), or even have tech-free days. Choose a day of the week to stay away from technology and reconnect with life. Go for a walk, play games as a family, read a book.
- Meditate: Take the time to meditate, and you might be surprised at how you develop better focus. Meditation helps you center yourself, and teaches you to sit in stillness.
You don’t always need something to keep you from “being bored.” Shallow attention and the need to be constantly diverted can keep you from being as productive as you could be, and it even keeps you from focusing and doing your best work.