Much has been said and written on the topic of multitasking, concentration and how to stay focussed. And while there are some really useful resources on the Internet that will help you improve your concentration skills, most of the posts suggest focussing techniques that are literally useless and will not only mess up your mind, but will also make you waste precious time while trying to make them work.
The truth about focussing is that it can be achieved, but for many it seems to be a case of all or nothing – you will either do it right and concentrate on your task, or it won’t happen at all. If it doesn’t happen instantly, gradual and step-by-step ‘training’ of your mind won’t help, because the core of every technique is motivation and determination. If you want to do it, you will do it right away as it is not that hard. If you don’t want to do it, you just won’t.
So, imagine you are working on a really important report for your meeting tomorrow and you really need to get it right. True, you may still get it right even if you are constantly being distracted, but it won’t be as good as the one your focussed self can produce. Besides, focussing on one thing and doing only it will help you do it faster and with less effort, thus saving your time and energy for the next task. Being focussed will also allow you to avoid making silly mistakes related to spelling and grammar, figures and clarity. It is so annoying not to attach a file when sending an e-mail or writing ‘September 2£’, and we won’t even mention forgetting to save your report before switching the computer off.
Now that we know some of the important reasons why you should focus on one task and deal with it without distraction, let’s see how to do it. The first question you need to ask yourself is ‘What are the things that distract me?’ Here are some suggestions:
- Social Media, news and other websites
– Other things you have forgotten
– add other distractions here…
So now that we have the list of things that distract you, let’s see how to avoid the distraction.
Firstly, the Internet; just close your browser, look at the browser icon and make a mental note, something like a mind alarm that will go off every time you click on it. The alarm should say ‘No distractions!’ or ‘Get back to work!’ or ‘Multitasking is not cool!’ – anything that will remind you that your goal is to focus on the report or the task at hand. Browsing the Web can be your treat for a job well done. Of course, you can use the browser for research and information for your task, but close it again as soon as you are done with that.
As for your e-mail, if you access it through your browser, that’s already sorted out. If you use Outlook or an app on your phone, just switch off the automatic synchronisation for some time until you finish your task. E-mails can wait, you will have enough time to focus on them later.
Same goes for your phone – switch off the vibration, mute it and put it screen down on the desktop. You can take care of all professional and personal matters requiring your attention afterwards.
If your colleagues keep distracting you from what you have to do, just explain to them politely that you need to focus on your task. If they keep doing it, close the door to your office – that will usually do the trick. Same goes for your thoughts – they can be like distracting colleagues sometimes. In order to stop them, put a sheet of paper near you – when you remember something, just write it down. This will help you focus your thoughts.
In a similar way, you can deal with all other distractions you add to your list. Just have in mind that you are not removing the distractions forever, as you will need to focus on them at some point. You are just keeping them at arm’s length so you can pay attention to your current task.
If you follow this simple and easy method, you will see that your productivity and success will achieve new levels and that dealing with your daily tasks will take you less time and effort than usual. There’s no harm in trying, so why not try now?