Picture this: Your to-do list rolling its imaginary eyes as you scroll through social media, refreshing Instagram one more time just in case someone updated their story in the last two seconds.
Everyone’s been there. In fact, 75% of people admit to falling into the trap of digital distractions on a daily basis. Studies show that most people spend an average of eight hours a week just on notifications. That’s an entire workday!
How To Leave Digital Distractions In The Dust
To avoid the remote black hole of low productivity, explore these 5 tips that will help you refocus on your work, finish that lengthy to-do list, and successfully ditch those pesky digital distractions.
1. Plan Screen Time and Breaks Into Your Day
Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you—it’s actually encouraged to take breaks and spend time on your phone. You just need to make sure that these breaks are accounted for within your schedule.
If you know that you are most productive early in the morning, make sure to take advantage of that. Some people find that small breaks throughout the day increase their productivity. Others prefer to work in blocked-out hours. It’s important that you optimize your schedule to work for you, not against you.
Instead of sneaking glances at your phone during meetings, treat your screen time as you would a regular appointment. For example, set aside five minutes during every hour that is solely dedicated to catching up on the latest Twitter threads.
2. Take Advantage of The ‘Do Not Disturb’ Feature
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always need to respond to your notifications right away. The benefits of asynchronous communication are especially relevant to remote workers who find themselves glued to a screen for the majority of the day. Your phone, laptop, Apple Watch, and any other technology should all have the capability to turn off notifications while you focus on your work.
If you feel your mind constantly shifting gears, try taking a step back and zoning in on one task at a time. A study from the University of California determined that it only takes 20 minutes of interrupted performance to feel significantly more stressed and frustrated. Making the choice to utilize the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature will create a boundary that will not only limit your daily dose of distractions, but also help you feel more in control of your workday.
3. Test Out The Pomodoro Technique
If you speak Italian, you may be confused as to why this name quite literally translates to the ‘tomato technique’. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed in the 1980s by an Italian university student, Francesco Cirillo, that promotes concentration and reduces digital distractions.
For this technique, start out with your daily to-do list. Then, set your timer (Cirillo’s was a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, hence ‘Pomodoro’) for 25 minutes and fully immerse yourself in the work until the timer rings. Be sure to record your progress and enjoy a short break as a reward for staying focused. Repeat this process, taking longer breaks as needed for more demanding tasks.
This method is all about aligning your mental focus towards a specific project. When you provide your mind a clear and direct path to concentrate on, you are far less likely to be distracted by the commotion of the digital world.
4. Communicate Your ‘No-Distractions’ Time To Your Team
If you are a remote worker, there is no way for your coworkers to visually see how focused you are on your tasks at any given time. It’s important to communicate when you are shutting out distractions in order to avoid any potential conflict. This method will not only eliminate digital notifications, but it will also help your team understand that you are in your zone of genius.
A simple way to give your team a heads up is by updating your status on the communication platform that your team is using, such as Slack. This way, your manager will be aware of what you are doing and your co-workers will wait until you are available again to ask any pending questions.
By communicating this dedicated work time, you can actively set a much-needed boundary between your focus and any incoming digital distractions. Just don’t forget to change back your status when the work is complete!
5. Tune Into A Deep Focus Playlist
Let’s be honest. There are some days where it feels like you just can’t seem to focus, no matter what you try. If short breaks aren’t working, it’s far too easy to turn off ‘Do Not Disturb’, and 25 minutes of work seems like an eternity, this last technique might be right for you.
If you aren’t familiar with focus music, Spotify and YouTube will be your new best friends. There are six types of music used by highly-successful people that are proven to boost your productivity and ditch the distractions:
- Classical: Time to shine, Mozart and Beethoven.
- Nature: Think ocean waves, thunderstorms, rain, etc.
- Cinematic: These grandiose soundtracks are sure to boost your motivation!
- Video Game: Why do you think it’s so easy to get lost in hours of gaming?
- 50 And 80 Beats Per Minute: This tempo will actually put your brain into an alpha state.
- Deep Focus: Search for this Spotify playlist and thank us later!
The common factor among all of these is the lack of lyrics or voices in the music. Your mind has a much better chance of focusing on a task and moving forward with a fast rhythm than trying to concentrate through the latest Lizzo album.
It’s Time to Take Action
Whether you resonated with one or all five of these tips, the most important thing is actually implementing these strategies into your routine. Digital distractions can take the form of Slack, Trello, email, social media, TV (if you work remotely), and other digital tools. Make sure to set boundaries, differentiate your work/break times, and create a work environment that helps you thrive.
The urge to check social media is natural and will most likely always be there, which is why finding ways to successfully ditch those distractions will be beneficial now more than ever.