How to Sharpen Your Focus When You Are Easily Distracted
We’ve all been there: Sitting down energized to get work done, motivation coursing through our veins, looking forward to a productive day of checking off to-do lists. Yet, at some point, the clock’s ticking slows, time warps, and you feel your brain trailing off to a more attractive distraction. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t sharpen your focus.
Distractions are a roadblock to our daily productivity; the good news is that roadblocks can be removed.
How do I get rid of distractions?
Here are six easy practices that have been tried and tested by yours truly that you can use to sharpen your focus when you are easily distracted.
1. Use Your Phone To Your Advantage.
The prime distraction for most of us is our phones. While most advice will tell you to simply store your phone away following the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ adage, we know that doesn’t work. If you have to satisfy the need of having your phone in your hands when you work, integrate it into your workflow.
In an online class? Type down key points on your notes app. In a meeting? Use the calendar app to plan all the things you have to accomplish. There is an array of apps at your fingertips ready to boost your productivity—you just need to know where to look.
To take it one step further to sharpen your focus when you are easily distracted, switch off your notifications and hide flashy apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Shopee away from your home screen. Your brain would rather stay on your productivity app than search for the apps you have hidden away.
2. Try the classic Pomodoro Technique.
Developed in the 1980s, this time management technique requires you to work with full focus for 25 minutes before you are entitled to a five-minute break. If you find that the original intervals do not work for you, most Pomodoro websites allow you to customize your desired routine to suit your momentum.
You may be sceptical and deem it more efficient to work non-stop for an hour, but Pomodoro limits the time you have to perform a certain task and hence increases the value of your minute. Work expands to fill the time you allocate, which is why the lack of an end time allows wiggle room when you are easily distracted. This technique forces you to work at maximum efficiency and also decreases the likelihood of burnout since all you have to do is focus for 25 minutes at a time.
Tip: Take a physical break and not just mentally especially when overcoming the afternoon slump – to stretch, get a snack, or satiate your phone cravings. You’ll be wired to think that you had a leisurely break, so for the next 25 minutes, you can’t afford any distractions.
3. Cut the clutter.
Forget the stereotype that a messy workplace equates to intelligence; it’s true what they say about ‘clean space, clean mind’. Eliminate tokens of distractions and minimalize your workstation. This makes way for easier access to your necessary tools and makes it harder for you to be distracted by something unrelated. You won’t end up squandering precious time looking for something you need or fiddling with trinkets you don’t need when everything is where it should be.
Plus, retaining only the essentials needed to perform your task means that everything you see will serve as a visual cue of the job at hand.
4. Listen to Binaural beats.
If this is your first time hearing of binaural beats, boy, are you in for a treat! Easily accessed on YouTube, these beats are made up of different frequencies. By listening to them through earphones or headphones, you will register varying frequencies through each ear, which your brain then translates to create a third frequency (the difference between the two original frequencies). This third frequency is the same that you would experience during meditation—a practice that is known to foster focus and calmness.
According to Healthline, these audios heighten concentration, decrease stress, encourage positive moods, and more. Who knew you could curate laser-sharp focus just by swapping out your pop playlist for binaural beats? Here’s another article with Spotify playlist recommendations to accompany you during work.
5. Flame meditation.
Meditation comes in many forms, one of which is trataka, the act of concentrating your gaze on a point or object. Trataka is most commonly practised by staring at a candle’s flame. If your environment does not permit the lighting of candles, there are YouTube videos available as substitutes.
All you have to do is keep your attention on the flame, which sounds easier than you think. This is because the flame is not stationary; it flickers and bends, and anything that moves—even slightly—will attract the mind’s attention.
As all meditation techniques do, there are so many benefits to it – it puts your mind in a state of relaxation, with extra advantages such as improved memory and increased concentration. The best part is you will see results simply by applying this method five minutes before you get started on your project. This helps to sharpen your focus when you are easily distracted.
6. Goodbye multi-tasking, hello single-tasking!
There is no denying that multitasking gives us a sense of accomplishment: Look at me, I’m doing two things at once and saving time for more tasks later on! Wrong. Studies have proven that multitasking does not yield results and realistically takes up more time than if one were to perform their tasks individually.
Here’s the kicker: multitasking isn’t doing several things at once; it is switching between multiple projects at once. This switching depletes a lot of energy that exhausts the brain, making us more susceptible to distractions that act as a respite. Try single-tasking as it helps you to approach tasks more mindfully and work on them intentionally to sharpen your focus when you are easily distracted. Concentrate on one thing at a time and conserve your energy for the rest of the day. Whenever you feel yourself drifting toward a new to-do, make a mental note to snap yourself back. It’s going to take some getting used to, but what doesn’t?
Though these practices may sound intimidating to put into action, know that you’re not alone. Take it one step at a time and figure out which one works best for your workflow. Happy hustling!