Are minor tasks taking you all day?
If you find yourself spending all day to compose an email, write an article, or create a memorable video, chances are that you’re getting very, very distracted.
If you start lots of projects that take too long or don’t get finished at all, apply these distraction-busting tips:
1. Kill your internet.
Your mind will be blown at how much more productive you are at a computer with no internet connection. No “research” that transforms into a search for the perfect crazy cat video. No twitter, IM, phone, or any other element that crushes your time. Gather your research materials, and when it’s time to put rubber to the road, cut your internet off – it’s too tempting to write when a stress reliving diversion is just a mouse click away.
2. Addition by subtraction.
The brain works in very strange ways. The more stuff you can see, the more your brain can latch onto it and create an “urgent matter” in your brain – notice how easy it is to get distracted by trivial things when you are doing something important? So clear the mess off your desk, and get rid of excess files from your desktop. Usually you let stuff stack up on your desktop because you’re trying to get to it quickly. But it’s harder to put those items away once you’re done.
Reduce your visual clutter and enjoy the results.
3. Start with the small things.
It’s easier to get distracted or even quit altogether when your working on a large project in a single sitting. Think of that kind of attention as a heavy weight – you wouldn’t just walk in and lift the heaviest thing in the gym, so why try to focus for a 2 or 3 block stretch?
If you’re having problems staying focused because the work is monotonous, put on some music (not talking) and work in 20 minute stretches.
4. Don’t multitask.
If you’re chasing down three projects at once, you’re hurting yourself. Especially if those projects require a broad set of skills and you’re losing your ability to niche down and specialize. Devote yourself to doing one task, and if you can use one skill at a time (like writing), even better. This helps you get into a “groove” and become more productive.
Basically, instead of going up and down and up and down into attention, you want to create a smooth, uninterrupted ocean of productivity, and then take frequent breaks. Don’t let yourself burn out on a single task!
6. Work fast.
Get things done as fast as you can. Once you’ve really started to get things humming, you’ll kind of hypnotize yourself with activity, becoming more and more pleased with your results.
Catch you later.