4 Simple Ways of Avoiding Distractions

So you want results without doing the work? Great, just what we need… another lazy bugger that’s a sucker for instant gratification. Ok, we’ll cut you some slack… you start with good intentions and in principle you don’t mind the work, it’s just that the slightest distraction makes you wander off to something else. Something easier and quicker to achieve. So things are left undone. You leave wreckages of good intentions by your side as you jump from project to project.

If you have the slightest inkling that it may be the best strategy for realizing your dreams please read one.

I believe that you have to work for the good things to come to you. For two reasons. Firstly, the feeling of progress is a foundation for happiness. It could be progress in anything from advancing your career or reducing your handicap in golf to progress on your inner journey or in the development of your relationship. Secondly, knowing that you worked for that progress to happen creates a feeling of self-worth. A feeling of being capable. That creates self-confidence. Happy and self-confident people makes this world a better place. But that’s for a different post.

However, to putting in the work means focused hours of applying yourself and that’s where it’s easy to fall short. We’ve all been there, we need to get something done but for some reason we just cannot bring ourselves to doing the work, focused. The world seems to be filled with all sorts of very interesting things to do. Things that don’t normally come to mind are suddenly popping up out of nowhere. You start, stop yourself to do something else, curse, start again, stop again for something else, curse once more, and so on and so on. This can go on for a long time and eventually you just decide that right now is not the time to do whatever you set out to do, get up and walk away. You lost, you accept defeat and simply give up. How this affects you is very individual, some people shake it off quickly and can return with new energy at a later time while others carry this with them for a long time.

Does it have to be this way? Are we left to circumstance and do we have to trust in our inspiration of the day to keep us focused? I say no, there are things you can do and control yourself to make sure the risk of this is minimal.

You, fooling yourself to feed off distractions
The reason the above happens is that the possibilities of being distracted today are endless. And we invite distraction. We fill our offices and homes with gadgets, we have cell phones, are constantly online and seek interactions with other people as often as we can. No wonder we have problems getting some quality focused work done. We have been conditioned to be available at all times, constantly updating our online statuses, answering our phones 24/7 and expect response to emails within minutes. This conditioning is very subtle but it permeates the fabric of modern life so  it’s extremely difficult to defend against. But be clear – don’t confuse activity with progress.

What to do
So now we are clear on that what we are fighting is distractions in many forms. To come out on top you have to make sure that yout activity is productive and not just an answer to the many distraction all around you. The idea is to give yourself a process and a safe place to stay productive in. The four ways I prospose you use are “boring down” your workplace, a productivity routine, communication outage and usage of quiet/dead time.

Here is what you do:

Boring down your workplace
This can be done both at home and in your office. Make your place of work as clean as possible. Remove gadgets that are just too easy to play with. Uninstall any program you don’t need to do your job or create separate work and free time accounts so that there is a hurdle you have to get over to play games. Place magazines out of sight to keep you from “just read a few pages”. I think you get the picture, remove as much as possible that may entice you to do something else than what you need to focus on to be productive.

Productivity routine
If you study athletes just before they get down to business a couple of times, you will notice quite clearly that they all have a routine they go through. It can be anything like nodding in a pattern, pulling their clothes or repeating a mantra. This little routine is their productivity “ceremony” and their key to getting into the mental state of peak performance. You can do something similar, if you always do the same thing just before doing something that needs your undivided attention your mind will notice. It will be easier for you to stay in the productivity zone. And by the way, “reading the entire internet” is not a good routine.

Communication outage
Although we are conditioned to be online all the time and always answer our phone and it is hard to break free of that, everyone can create their own quiet times. Start by deciding a period of time when you shut down your communication devices, all of them. Then take that time to feel the freedom and notice that the world does not end. This is an important message and realization to get. When you accept this you will have no problems working in your productive zone during self imposed communication outages.

Use dead/quiet time
Have you ever come to the office before everyone else? Do you remember what happened? I bet you were very productive. The reason is that you get to be free of many distractions for free by working when nobody else is around. If you have the possibility to schedule some of your work time to use those dead/quiet times you get a lot for free.

When you make sure you stay in your productivity zone for prolonged periods of time you will allow yourself to become lucky as well. Your ideas will be better, your software will have fewer bugs, your answer will be clearer etc.

Luck is the residue of process – MJ DeMarco

What do you do to avoid being distracted?

Fredrik Hertzberg is part of a two-man team running Reintegrate. Fredrik has a passion for finding ways to bring diet, exercise and mind together into powerful unity. Being a father, engineer and manager, Fredrik is well aware of the challenges of modern people. Follow Fredrik on G+.