We all know that the key to success in anything is focus and discipline. And while we do our best to stay focused, it is becoming more and more difficult to do so without some type of distraction getting in our way. Whether it’s work/life balance, social media, coworkers, news, gossip, Beyoncé, or Kim Kardashian, it seems that our brains can’t get a break to do what they know they need to do. The following are 10 ways to stay focused in a world full of distractions.
1. Put Your To-Dos in Writing
Many times, we allow our priorities to fall by the wayside because we don’t fully realize how much is on our plate. If we knew from the very start what our workload was, we would spend less time allowing distractions to distract us. It is important that you put your to-dos in writing. Break down your day so you know what needs to be done by when and so that your to-dos don’t sneak up on you.
2. Use Your Phone to Keep You Honest With Time
Even if you have your to-dos in writing, you may still find yourself distracted by other things. In that case, use your phone to set up reminders throughout the day so you know if you are on time with your deliverables or not. If half the day is over and you are not done with half of your to-dos, then it’s time to pick up the speed a little.
3. Unplug Completely
Most distractions come from online sources like email and social media. Regain some focus by going completely offline until you’ve completely finished the most important or difficult items on your to-do list. Enlist a partner to help you with this just in case there are emergencies. List your partner as a backup or include them in an auto-reply so if something really needs your attention, they can come get you.
4. Turn Off Notifications
If unplugging completely is not possible, try turning off notifications. Many times, the alerts are what distract us the most and kill our groove. Turn off notifications so that you are not distracted by that Instagram comment or Facebook tag.
5. Take a Break
Being bored with what you’re doing or doing something for an extended period of time can really take a toll on your focus. Instead of trying to power through, take a break to reinvigorate your mind. Go for a stroll outside, do some push-ups, or simply stand up and do a lap around your office. You’ll be surprised at how much a break can help you gain more clarity.
6. Listen to Music
I’m not sure of the exact science related to listening to music, but I work alongside quite a few incredible people who do so on the daily because it helps them focus their minds. Some swear by classical music (like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) to focus their minds, and others lean more toward chill electronic (like Odesza). For me, however, I tend to find myself listening to a slower Top 40 Hits track when I need to focus. (In fact, I’m listening to Shawn Mendes’s “Treat You Better” as I type this.) It’s really just a matter of finding the genre that works the best for you. And no matter what style of music you choose, be sure to use headphones so that while you focus, you also signal to others that you are not available to chat.
7. Give Yourself More to Do
I know what you’re thinking: how can having more to do make me focus better? Actually, it’s not really giving you more to do but taking your big to-do list and breaking it down into smaller parts. When you are having a hard time focusing, smaller tasks help you concentrate and trick you into believing you are accomplishing a lot. It’s also very motivating when you’re able to continuously cross items off your list.
8. Log Off of Social Media Sites
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat are all addictive. Instead of giving yourself easy access to the distraction, log off of these sites so that you are intentional about what time you spend on social media. Sometimes the lack of easy access can serve as a great tool for better concentration.
9. Make Focus a Team Effort
Coworkers can sometimes serve as the biggest distraction throughout the day, and ignoring them or asking them to leave you alone might not be the best social thing to do. So instead of being reactive to their distraction, make sure they know ahead of time that you need uninterrupted time. Also, use headphones (even if you are not listening to anything) while you travel throughout the office. This can greatly decrease the stop-and-chats in the hallway.
10. Meditate and Stay Centered
Lastly, try meditation. Sometimes quieting the mind and getting centered can give your brain the boost it needs to get your job done. The great thing about meditation is that you can do it from anywhere. All you need to do is count your breath or repeat your mantra. Meditation done the right way can sometimes be better than taking a nap, and all you need is 10-20 minutes. Not to mention, meditation and money may also have a connection to help you improve your finances.
Luvleen Sidhu is the president, cofounder, and chief strategy officer at BankMobile, the largest and fastest growing digital bank in the country helping the underbanked, millennials, and middle-income Americans have an affordable, effortless, and financially empowering banking experience.