How to Minimize Distractions
Distractions. We ALL have them coming at us all day, every day, and learning how to identify and minimize those distractions can feel daunting.
In this post, I'm going to be breaking down the two types of distractions we all experience, but more importantly, I’ll give you the tangible tips and strategies you need to start to minimize distractions in your life, so you can finally find the focus and productivity you crave.
The Two Types of Distractions
When it comes to getting side-tracked in our day-to-day lives, there are two sources that these distractions come from: internal and external.
External distractions take the form of people, noises, sounds, sights, etc. They are the things that we can actually see, touch, and hear that are physically around us.
Alternatively, internal distractions usually come in the form of that ticker tape of information that runs through your brain. They are all of the things that you seem to suddenly start thinking about when you’re trying to focus on something else.
When thinking about the external distractions that most commonly affect us each day, you can actually break these down into two more categories: people and technology.
External Distraction #1: People
Getting distracted by people can be something as simple as sitting down to get work done and your child, your co-worker, or your partner comes in and interrupts you.
The number one thing I do to minimize distractions from people is to have a clear plan in place for when I need to be left alone versus when I am available to be interrupted and, then, to communicate that with the people around me.
When I was in an office, I set specific hours every day when I was available for anything and everything my team needed to pop in and talk about, and I communicated those with the people working for me. This gave me concentrated work time without interruption AND it made me available to support the people on my team.
If you have a physical office, you could do something as simple as communicating to your team that, when your door is shut, only to interrupt you for emergencies, and when the door is open, feel free to come in.
If you work remotely, you could set blocks of time on your calendar for your team when you’re free for people to pop in. You can also implement a closed-door policy with your family that lets them know when you need time to work without being interrupted. If you don’t have a door, something as simple as a sign on the back of your chair or desk can work!
The important thing to remember with this plan to minimize distractions is to communicate it to the people who need to know.
External Distraction #2: Technology
Even if you think people are your biggest external distraction, I’d bet even money that it’s actually your technology.
Technology distractions come in the form of your phone, emails, texts, pop-up notifications, social media...the list goes on and on! And there are two things you can put in place to really help minimize distractions when it comes to your technology.
First and foremost, turn off all notifications on all of your devices. This is one of the most game-changing time management tips I recommend to all moms.
If you’re unsure how to go about setting up your phone in a way that minimizes distractions, I encourage you to download my app ThePinkBee and check out my training on this.
You can, of course, create exceptions to get calls from certain family members, your kid’s school, etc. But for the most part, you don’t need those messages and alerts coming through all day.
Then, the second part of minimizing technology distractions is to set up scheduled times in your day to go in and check on the messages, emails, and notifications that have come in. This way, you can relax and know you’re not going to miss anything, but you’re also not going to get side-tracked every few minutes.
If the constant conga line of internal distractions is something that you are battling, I will be honest and share that, years ago, my internal distractions were far more problematic than my external distractions.
However, now, unless I’m in a highly stressful situation, my internal distractions are minimal to non-existent.
The secret to quieting these distractions? Planning. It’s the number one way for us to manage our internal distractions!
To illustrate this, imagine you were hosting a big party at your home — a wedding shower, a baby shower, a birthday party, etc. Now, think about the difference between how you would feel and where your brain would be if you had detailed plans in place for everything ahead of time versus how you would be handling things if you saved it all until the very last minute.
The lack of a plan is what triggers your inability to focus and concentrate — both when it comes to hosting parties and with everything else in your life.
And when it comes to minimizing your internal distractions, there are two key things you need to have.
The first thing is an organizational system for all the information that you have to juggle.
When we have a place, or assigned organizational system, for all the stuff that's coming at us, that releases the anxiety and stress that we would be putting on our brain by trying to remember too much.
The second thing is creating a tangible, actionable plan of when and how you are going to get things done.
A weekly plan allows you to go through your day knowing what you’re doing and when. It also gives you peace in knowing that everything you need to get done has been accounted for and prioritized appropriately.
I've been doing this style of weekly planning for years now, and I no longer have those regularly occurring panicked moments in the middle of the night or distracted thoughts throughout the day, because I know I have a system and a plan in place.
For even more tips on planning, productivity, priorities, time management, and organization, check out more blogs or podcast episodes. And if you’re ready to dive deep into minimizing your distractions and beating overwhelm with weekly planning, be sure to check out The TOP Program.