How To Focus Despite Distractions

How To Focus Despite Distractions

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How To Focus Despite Distractions

Each day employees spend 56 minutes on their smartphones and 42 minutes on personal tasks — That’s 20% of each workday wasted on distractions

Modern Workplaces

  • Culture of Distraction?
    • 99% of employees say they are distracted daily
      • The office makes these hard to do
        • Video conferences 93%
        • Phone calls 51%
  • Why We Can’t Focus
    • Sleep deprivation
    • Multitasking
    • Stress
    • Busy environment
  • Generational Divide
    • Gen Z respondents are most productive when working with others
      • BUT 74% of all Gen Z and Millennials are distracted at work
        • 69% admit that their smartphone is one of the biggest distractions
    • BUT Baby Boomers feel more productive in a quiet space with less going on
      • 3X as many Boomers* are unable to concentrate in an open office
  • Wasted Time
    • 84% of workers believe they can refocus in under 30 minutes
      • BUT even tiny interruptions increase your chances of making a mistake
    • Due to coronavirus, many are working remotely for the first time
      • Over 50% are worried about the household distracting from their work

We’re up against internal and external challenges when it comes to overcoming distractions

The Lost Art of Concentration

  • Wired for Distraction
    • Popular games & apps were designed to change our behaviors
      • AND human minds are designed for continuous distraction
      • In a study conducted with 2,250 adults
        • At any moment, 47% reported their mind was wandering
  • Inability to Focus
    • Mind-wandering is so natural that often we don’t even notice it happening
    • According to a study by Microsoft Canada
  • Our average attention span in 2008: 12 seconds
    • By 2013: 8 seconds
    • 1 second less than a goldfish
  • The Role of Sleep
    • According to the CDC
      • Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep nightly
      • BUT 1 in 3 Americans adults sleep less than the recommended hours
    • Continued lack of sleep could destroy our brain cells

If we can’t change how our brains work or where we work, how do we get ahead of distractions before they happen?

Optimize Your Work Environment

  • Start Here
    • Turn off notifications
      • While they might seem to be momentary distractions, notifications
        • Disrupt our thoughts for much longer
        • Make it difficult to get back on track
    • Cut down on email
      • Americans spend much of their day checking emails
        • Work 3+ hours
        • Personal 2+ hours
      • Just 3 of every 26 minutes spent responding to email are job-related
    • List out tasks
      • Write down and rank your tasks by important to not important
      • This will help you
        • Focus on what is most urgent
        • Avoid wasting time
    • Take breaks
      • Look away from your screen to rest your eyes
        • Take a 15-minute break for every 2 hours staring at your screen
      • “Heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli — they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media” – Microsoft 2015 study

Even a simple routine can help clear our minds ㅡ Tim Ferriss, author of The 4 Hour Work Week, recommends eating the same meal for lunch every day

  • Tech To Help Focus Like The Pros
    • Freedom.to
      • Set up a list of websites and apps that can be distracting
      • Schedule time each day and Freedom will block access
    • Trello
      • Use lists of tasks and separate projects by board to keep track of projects
      • Minimize notifications and only see updates for what you need to know
    • Noisli
      • Custom background sound to drown out unpleasant noises
      • Mix different sounds and create a personalized atmosphere

What does focus mean? It means to pay attention.

How to Focus

Sources:

https://iorgforum.org/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-successful-people-ea_b_11164158

https://money.com/cell-phone-alert-productivity/

https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/technology-media-and-telecommunications/our-insights/the-social-economy

http://www.danielgilbert.com/KILLINGSWORTH%20&%20GILBERT%20(2010).pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html

https://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/

https://blog.trello.com/why-you-cant-focus-on-anything-plus-how-to-fix-it

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/gen-z-says-they-are-most-productive-when-working-around-noise-baby-boomers-say-shhhh-they-need-quiet-to-get-work-done-300848446.html

https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/brief-interruptions-spawn-errors/

https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/workplace-distractions-types/

https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome#:~:text=Rest%20breaks%20%2D%20To%20prevent%20eyestrain,eyes%20a%20chance%20to%20refocus.

https://trello.com/home

https://www.ics.uci.edu/~gmark/chi08-mark.pdf

https://www.slideshare.net/adobe/2019-adobe-email-usage-study