SQUIRREL!! 5 Tips to Keep you Less Distracted

blog Apr 12, 2020

Easily distracted? It happens...to a lot of us! Here are 5 tips to help you maintain focus.

I recently ran a survey to 1000 women and when they were asked, “What is the #1 thing you struggle with when it comes to time management and productivity?”  The answer was…. distractions.

To be honest, this surprised me.  I was expecting other answers to be at the top of the list such as not enough time or problems prioritizing.  But, I was wrong. It was distractions. 60% of the people that responded said distractions or staying focused.

This got me thinking.  I often struggle with the opposite where I can get so focused that I tune out everything and ignore everyone.  However, I live with two people that are easily distracted and tend to get derailed with “SQUIRRELS!” (if you don’t know this reference, it is from a great movie called “UP!”)

So, I got to work putting together some tips and tricks we use at home.  Then, I tested them out on several of my clients. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive so I wanted to share with everyone!

 

  1. Turn off all notifications on electronic devices.  I can not emphasize this enough.  There is NO reason you need to get a sound or even visible push notification for every email, text, message, comment etc.  On any device. At all. Turn them off. Turn them off on your phone, computer and tablet. This way, if you are in the middle of answering an email, you will NOT be distracted by an incoming text.  
  2. Reduce time blocks to 30 minutes max If you struggle with distractions and focus, you are better served with smaller time blocks.  When you create smaller time blocks (30 minutes or less), your chances of staying focused on the task as hand are greatly increased (especially when you do #1 first!).  Use time blocks to check on messages, too!
  3. Focus on “one thing” each day.  Every day pick ONE thing that is the single more important thing for the day..and then do that first!  The success of accomplishing that one thing will mentally set you up for more success as the day goes on.
  4. Put less on your calendar.  If the sight of a filled up calendar leaves you feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, you may do better with a daily prioritized task list instead of a full, time blocked calendar.  If this sounds like something for you, keep your calendar for mandatory appointments and meetings that have set, non-flexible times. Then, put the rest of your to-do list on a task list for the day.  This gives you the freedom to take breaks as needed and re-prioritize your tasks throughout the day.
  5. Timers.  When you combine the first 4 things in this list and add timers to your day, it is a complete game changer.  So, when you set out to do your ONE thing, set a 30 minutes timer on your phone. Do not allow yourself to do anything but that ONE thing until the timer goes off.  Then, take a break. Period. Before your next task, set a new timer.

Staying focused is hard.  Especially if you struggle with ADHD or other challenges that make it flat out hard to ignore those distractions.  However, if you work at implementing some of these tips, I believe you start to make some small wins…which will lead to bigger and bigger ones!

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