Christopher Murphy explains how to minimise distractions to focus on getting things done
Christopher Murphy explains how to minimise distractions and get things done
One of the biggest challenges in business – especially when you’re running a company on top of another job – is finding time to get everything done. Following through on strategic goals requires time and time can often seem in short supply.
Managing distractions is critical if you’re to get everything done that you need to. Unfortunately we live in a world filled with interruptions. Smartphones might be very empowering but they can also be incredibly distracting.
One of the unfortunate by-products of having a computer in your pocket or on your wrist is it can feel as if your mind is being pulled in a thousand directions at once. While useful, notifications, if they’re not controlled, interrupt your flow.
Getting into a ‘flow state’, where you become so absorbed in a task that time seems to evaporate, improves your productivity hugely. The secret to maintaining this state is to put a stop to interruptions so that you can keep the flow going. Carving out time for flow helps hugely.
Identifying potential interruptions and then establishing strategies for managing them improves your productivity. Developing a strategy for notifications is a great place to start, helping to compartmentalise them.
You can begin to build a barrier around your productivity by managing alerts, wherever they occur. A good place to start is switching off vibrations, silencing audible alerts and removing those ever-present little red badges that annoy you with their ‘something’s urgent’ calls to action.
With your notifications tamed, it’s time to turn your attention to email, messaging applications and social tools, all of which are equally capable of derailing you. Of course, these communication tools are the glue that keeps everything flowing but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t compartmentalise their usage.
If at all possible, try not to start the day with email. Dealing with email first thing in the morning has the potential to derail your day, destroying your productivity. Checking email – even if you don’t reply right away – can play on your mind, overtaking your subconscious, rendering it very difficult to get anything worthwhile done.
Setting aside ‘do not disturb’ time for email – not just for evenings but during the day too – can help you focus on core goals without your mind being interrupted. Checking email mid-morning and midafternoon gives you uninterrupted ‘timeboxes’ that you can use to get things done.
Timeboxing is a time management strategy that compartmentalises activities, ensuring you make the most of the time you have available and maximising your chances of achieving flow. By timeboxing activities you can manage time more effectively and maximise your productivity.
By setting aside timeboxes for critical tasks at the start of the day, you give yourself the mental space to focus on important goals, before distractions creep in. If you can hit a milestone early on, so much the better: this will give you a welcome morale boost.
Embracing a timeboxing strategy can help you build a schedule that defragments your day, giving you space to focus. The key is to work smart, manage distractions and make every moment count.
By compartmentalising distraction-prone activities, you free up your time for flow-focused, productive work