We all know how important it is to avoid distractions during the workday. There are so many things you can do and we’ve gone over a ton of strategies on Calendar to help with this.
However, have you ever thought about what you’d do when you do get distracted? How will you get back on track once you’ve encountered a time suck? Research shows that it takes around 30 minutes to refocus after you’ve gotten distracted.
If all your attempts to avoid distractions do fall through, don’t beat yourself up because you’re human. This is why it’s important to have a backup plan. These 7 tips will help you refocus faster when you’ve been distracted.
1. Identify the Distraction and What It’s Costing You
The first step is to make a conscious effort to identify what is actually distracting you. This will help signal the shift so you can get back on track. If you’re scrolling mindlessly on Facebook for example, you may not realize that you’ve been distracted right away. Once you do realize this, however, you may close the tab and try to get back to what you were doing initially.
They key is to often check yourself to make sure you’re not falling into a time suck trap. Look at your daily schedule and review what’s on your plate and how long you expect each task to take. Check in hourly or even more frequently to determine whether you’ve gotten distracted or not by something else.
Also, consider what the distraction is costing you and use this as motivation to get back on track. For example, if you only have 5 hours to work today due to an event later, getting distracted might mean you’d have to stay up even later tonight to catch up on work after the event. Knowing this can motivate you to refocus faster when you’ve been distracted.
2. Stop Multitasking
It’s much easier to focus on the task at hand when you’re not trying to do several things all at once. You may think that you’re getting more done by listening to a podcast, checking email, and brainstorming ideas for a client.
However, you are likely just oversaturating your mental space and will end up taking longer to complete each task due to multiple distractions. Purpose to take on one task at a time and give your complete focus to that task until it’s complete.
3. Switch to Something Easier
Sometimes we look for distractions to help us escape a task we don’t feel like doing. In other words, we procrastinate. If you have experienced several failed attempts at getting refocused after being distracted, your subconscious mind may just be avoiding the task altogether.
If your schedule allows, switch gears and do something easier for the next few minutes. When you feel motivated to take on the tough task again, set yourself up for success and try to prevent any further distractions.
4. Focus on the Present
Do you daydream a lot of think of the future when it’s time to get things done? Daydreaming or planning your future can seem fun, but it’s not always productive. There’s a time and a place for it.
When you’re trying to work, commit to focusing on the present and the task at hand. Think about what you’re doing now and why. You can think about results and plan your strategy later.
5. Time-Block to Focus Better
I love time blocking and batching my schedule. As the popular saying goes, ‘work expands to will the time allowed’. This means that you can shorten your work time and still get the same amount of things done in most cases.
You may not even need a full 8-10 hours each day. Having a long work schedule like this will often allow more time for distractions to creep in. Instead, give yourself a time limit and decide what you want to accomplish by the end of it.
Group similar tasks together and challenge yourself to focus so you can get things done in record time. Some nice goals to set may be getting a certain amount of work done before lunchtime or having a power hour where you knock out a handful of smaller to mid-sized tasks.
6. Take 5 Minutes
Say you keep getting distracted and you don’t have time to switch gears, take a break or switch to something easier. An excellent strategy to help you refocus faster when you’ve been distracted is to commit to focusing on the work for at least 5 minutes.
If you have to write something for example, tell yourself you’re going to work on it for 5 minutes. You can do almost anything for 5 minutes. This handy mind trick will help you start the view the task as something that’s less intimidating. Plus, it will motivate you to focus and start making progress again.
Once you get into the task for a few minutes, you may notice that you start to enter a state of intense hyperfocus. This is what you want. After 5 minutes have passed, odds are you’ll be secure in your new workflow and able to complete the task with minimal distractions.
7. Time Yourself
One of things I like to do to avoid distractions is to time myself when I work on certain things. I use a free tool called Clockify.me and I can set up tasks, time myself, and view my results each day, week, or month.
You can also start timing yourself once you’ve started a task to help you stay focused even if you do get distracted. There’s just something about timing myself that really puts the pressure on me. I don’t want to have the clock running for longer than necessary, so I focus better and keep distractions to a minimum.
If you always feel like you’re behind, the problem may not be your schedule at all. It could be because you’re constantly getting distracted. Distractions can use up so much time and energy. It’s important to use any variation of these 7 tips to help you refocus faster when you’ve been distracted.
By utilizing these strategies, you may even be able to shorten your workday and still get so much done.
How do you deal with distractions? Which one of these tips would be most helpful to you?