When cat videos are playing, 47 tabs are open, the TV is on, and you’re thinking about tomorrow, you’re in distraction paradise. But like a night of excess drinking, it’s only fun when you’re in it.
After bingeing on distractions, you’re bound to get a distraction hangover:
“Wait, what did I do today? How many cat videos did I just watch? Ugh, my head is pounding with guilt and thoughts of unfinished dreams.” – person with a distraction hangover
When you have a brief moment of clarity in the midst of chaos, you need to act fast before it’s too late to salvage your day. Here are 10 tips to help you strike quickly to regain your mind, destroy distractions, and focus happily ever after. 🙂
1. Set a tight, immediate deadline
Pressure in small doses is not only a very useful focus tool, it’s healthy. Deadlines make it easier to push yourself to your natural best. Otherwise, you might find yourself giving 40% effort.
Too many people leave deadlines alone in their personal life, labeling them as “a work thing.” But deadlines are used in the working world because they work very well!
Give yourself a little pressure with a deadline, and you’ll find distractions to be less appealing. The more difficult your deadline, the better. Easy deadlines like, “write a book by this time next year” will have the opposite effect and cause you to procrastinate because you’ll seem to have “too much time” on your hands!
2. Use a timer
Keeping track of time helps you focus by method of measurement. When you measure something, you pay more attention to it. Of course, this works brilliantly with a deadline!
I use timer-tab because my work is on the computer.
3. Get competitive
Who can write the most words in 2 hours? Who can do the most pull-ups? Compete with your personal bests or another person.
When you need to get yourself focused on something, you might not think to leverage competition, but it is a powerful motivator, because in order to be the best, you intuitively know that you’ll have to focus. Sports athletes are famous for being able to focus, and they do it to compete at the highest level.
4. Remove yourself from distractions
Going to a solitary place is an obvious way to cut out distractions. But do you ever do it? It works very well if your work is portable.
5. Remove distractions from your environment
I hear people all the time say that it’s easier for them to focus if a TV is on.
I think it’s because the TV gives them something to purposefully tune out. They’re so used to having so many distractions around them, that they’re also used to having to block them out. So when they remove the distractions, their mind goes nuts and doesn’t know what to do!
Through repetition, you’ll find comfort, even with unhealthy things.
If you’re one of those people who needs white noise, I bet you can train yourself back to normal. Do you think that people before TV were unable to focus without background noise? Or does it make more sense that people today have been conditioned to need it?
Modern society is full of noises and distractions, and we’re most comfortable with how things typically are. Consider training yourself by exposing yourself to silence. Or if silence is not an option, instrumental music is also a good choice for focusing.
6. Pay someone to slap you into focus
I once read about a guy who hired someone to watch him on the computer and slap his face whenever he got off task. It worked pretty well to train him to focus, and it was hilarious (he got it on video). My friend Vincent tried this slapping technique with success too.
Don’t laugh this one off either. Negative reinforcement can work, and there are tangent ideas you could try. You could make a pact with yourself to face a certain punishment if you commit a “focus crime.” Get creative!
7. Designate a safe haven
We are creatures of habit, and it can be a challenge to always go out somewhere silent. Why not make an area of your house a focus zone? Whenever you enter this zone, you MUST focus on whatever you choose with everything else silent.
They say not to do anything else in your bed but sleep so that your body will intuitively know to release melatonin when you get in bed. Your body is smart, and associating locations with different activities is an effective way to take advantage of that.
8. Take several deep breaths and relax
Breathing deeply is a fascinating thing. When you take a slow, drawn out, big breath, stress seems to leave you. And stress is detrimental to focus. You can also meditate if that’s your preferred relaxation/focus technique.
The point is that a relaxed mind is ideal for focusing.
9. Pick one thing
I’m willing to bet that, most the time, the reason you can’t focus is because you haven’t decided what to focus on. Pick one thing and be willing to let everything else wait. It doesn’t have to be the greatest choice available – that puts too much pressure on you to choose perfectly. Let good be good enough.
10. Use your imagination
People have no idea how staggeringly powerful their imagination is. A recent study found that it is so powerful, that it can alter what you see and hear in the physical world.
Visualize yourself as a hero that has to complete this task to save the entire world. Don’t just read those words. Fire up your imagination and make it reality for a moment. Feel the importance of the task and the cost of failure. This puts pressure on you, but your subconscious won’t let you freak out too much because it knows that you’re just playing around with your imagination.
Try visualizing a loved one in need. They need you to complete this task, which is (somehow) the antidote to their snake bite.
Imagine yourself giving a non-nervous thank you speech at your award ceremony for the job you did on this – only, you’ll lose that award if you don’t focus on it now.
This gives you the rush of something immediately critical, without the fear that often comes with it. Essentially, your imagination can give you REAL superpowers by creating the perfect mental environment. You can get yourself in any mood or any state of mind with your imagination (with practice).
Why is imagination discouraged in favor of realistic thinking in schools? They must not realize that children are better than adults in some ways. Imagination is power.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
~ Albert Einstein