Updated: Jul 25, 2022
Have I got your attention? In fact, how long can you keep reading this without your eyes or mind wandering? Is that a ping from your phone? Or a notification from the news? Are you craving a dopamine rush from your various sources of instant gratificat-
Okay okay, I’ll stop. Paying attention’s pretty hard for anyone, even if you’re doing something you enjoy. In the era we’re in today, our brains have been wired to pick up on all sorts of strange things, and it’s hard to stay focussed on the tasks that matter to us. So, today’s blog is a few tips to help combat distractions. Perhaps you can use them as you go to get to the end…
1.) Choose the right setting.
This is a bit of a cliché but a true one. Find a quiet, tidy room with no tv.
This also means "time setting" as well. Find a time you’re not likely to be disturbed by friends/family/colleagues (intentionally or unintentionally) and when you’re least likely to get excited by something else (such as your favourite show airing or the news or some kind of event going on outside).
2.) Get anything that might distract you as far away as you can.
This is a simple one but is rarely done by any of us. The reason it’s so effective is because instead of relying on your mental willpower, you instead remove the ability to need willpower altogether. I feel like the reason we all don’t do this one is because part of us almost wants something to distract us from what we need to do because it’ll be a sort of excuse for us to procrastinate. No! Cut that out! (I’m kidding, chill). If you’re worried about writer’s block then keep a notepad with you and procrastinate effectively with that. Just get rid of the other stuff (e.g. the old social media).
(Additional note - you may need a computer/phone for whatever you’re doing, but that doesn’t mean you need all it’s features. Use settings to restrict yourself: such as turning off wifi or limiting certain apps at certain times. Sometimes you'll need to research things on the internet, and that's okay, just be conscious of yourself as you do this as its easy to slip down the internet rabbit hole and not return for three hours).
3.) Give yourself things to assist/reward you.
Some people need relaxing lyric-less music. Some people need checklists. Some people need the a mint every few words (no judgments here). Find what you need to keep you sane as you plunge yourself headfirst into whatever it is you’re doing.
4.) Schedule time for working and time for breaks.
This is super important. It’s so easy to get distracted and become unproductive when you’re burnt out. So make sure you’re scheduling time to work and time to give your body/brain a rest. And whatever your rest is, aim to get out the room/house. Go for a walk, play an instrument, see a friend, numb the brain with a book/show (careful with these though; make sure you keep to your timings and don’t get carried away. Set yourself a break activity that's relaxing enough to rest in but not so much that you get carried away with it). And then, when it’s time to get back to work, make sure you’re all set up five or ten minutes before and ready to blast off as soon as it’s time. Alarms are super useful for this, as are tables or notes pages to schedule with.
5.) Visualise your future.
Whenever you’re distracted (or looking for a distraction) picture yourself where you want to be. Do you want to be holding that book? Climbing that mountain? Looking at that A Star grade? Watching your film with friends and family, grinning as they pat you on the back. Yeah it’s cheesy and perhaps over-optimistic at times, but if you visualise yourself in the best possible scenario it’ll motivate you to drive towards that goal. And once you get there (and I assure you, one day you will) the rush of fulfilment you get then will be much more than whatever instant gratification you can get now.
6.) Reward small steps.
Sometimes it can feel like you’re going nowhere, or your work is hopeless, and that’s when temptation to deviate starts to kick in. But every milestone you make is one step further than most people, and every piece of time you dedicate to your goal is a huge achievement. Obviously that doesn’t mean stop, but remember that just doing what you’re doing makes you a superhero. You can do this! Eye that project head on and give it everything you've got.
We’ll talk more about motivation, self-belief and dealing with self-doubt next week, so join this site as a member and follow my instagram harry_threapleton to make sure you don't miss it. In the meantime, those were some tips to slay that first inner dragon of distraction. I hope you found it helpful and let me know your thoughts in the comments or forum.
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