We all know what it’s like to feel scattered and overwhelmed. Careers, personal lives, and increasing accessibility to information battle for our top commodity: attention. The ability to be present without being distracted affects the amount of stress in our lives, our efficiency, and the quality of everything we produce.
According to Nir Eyal, author of Indistractable, researchers tell us attention and focus are the raw materials of human creativity and flourishing. They are the gateway skills to all thinking. As the fourth industrial revolution brings increasing automation, the top skills for success will be complex problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity–all skills that require sustained focus.
Being “indistractable” has evolved into the skill of this century.
The ability to focus is intertwined with success. Knowing this, how do we become “indistractable” in a world filled with distractions? Take a look at these suggestions for reducing distractions and increasing your focus.
Plan And Prioritize
Planning and prioritizing efficiently are skills people commonly struggle to master. Creating a weekly to-do list and updating it daily can help you be more focused and clear out “mental clutter.”
Have A Strategy For Reducing Distraction
Sometimes reducing distraction can be as basic as removing unnecessary objects from your work space. A simple work space promotes focus.
Office noise and interruptions can be more challenging. Noise-canceling headphones are becoming more common in offices–especially offices embracing agile workspaces–and in work-from-home environments.
Don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Empower yourself to say, “I’m in the middle of something right now. Can I get back to you later when I can focus on what you need?”
Manage Your Technology
The single greatest challenge to maintaining focus in this digital age is technology. The best way to reduce digital distractions is to edit. Edit what you choose to access and when you choose to access it.
Begin by eliminating apps you rarely use and get picky about groups you choose to join. Once you have whittled down your digital footprint, set aside time for media you consider important. Set a goal to address or enjoy those distractions during your daily commute or at lunch.
There is no such thing as multi-tasking. Shifting attention between tasks interrupts work flow and compromises productivity. It also limits your ability to engage fully in a task.
When you are focused, subconscious thinking can work in tandem with conscious thinking. While you are addressing one component of a task, your subconscious is often working away on another part. Your subconscious mind helps you preemptively organize next steps in a task, improving flow and efficiency. If you are constantly shifting your focus between tasks, your brain is never fully engaged.
Distractions are both pervasive and persuasive. Focus is a powerful tool; it’s not about doing the most work, but about identifying the most important work and completing it at the highest standard. With practice and a little time, you’ll find yourself feeling more focused and in control.