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Last Updated on November 5, 2021

What Is Deep Work And How It Helps You to Stay Focused

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What Is Deep Work And How It Helps You to Stay Focused

“Deep work” was first coined by Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University, in a 2012 blog post.[1] He went on to expand upon this idea in his 2016 bestselling book, appropriately titled Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

What exactly is “deep work”? According to Newport himself:

“Deep work refers to a professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”

Put more simply, it’s being able to stay focused on your most important and demanding tasks. When you’re able to do this, you’ll end up working smarter, not harder every day. More importantly, you’ll have a more meaningful life.

How Deep Work Helps You Focus

There are many benefits of deep work. Here are my favorite ways deep work can help you to become much more productive and effective with your time and your work.

Unimportant Distractions Are Gone

How often have you received a text message saying, “Did you get my email?” Checking emails is one of the biggest time wasters there is. Just looking at a message like that takes your focus away from what is important.

The refocusing time is estimated to be anywhere between three and twenty-one minutes. Turning off your notifications stops these unnecessary interruptions and allows you to focus on your work without the effects of attention residue.

Quiet, Deep Work Time Allows You to Think

When we allow all these distractions to enter our life, we find there is little to no time for thinking. And yet, thinking is an important ingredient if we want to produce quality work.

Giving yourself time each day for deep work will allow you to think clearly and begin producing better quality work.

Beginning to Feel More Fulfilled

When you start spending more uninterrupted time on important work, you will find you feel more fulfilled. This is a result of you getting important, fulfilling work done and reducing the amount of time you spend on unimportant things.

Making Fewer Mistakes

When you are constantly distracted from the work at hand, you will make more mistakes. When you allow yourself to stay focused on one task, you will make fewer mistakes because you are not having to stop and start a piece of work.

Requiring Less Time to Do the Work

Of course, when you are making fewer mistakes, you spend less time doing the work and revising. This allows you more time to do more quality work.

When you are completely focused on the important work, you will find you get a lot more done in each session. Just two hours per day focused on work that really matters will dramatically improve your output.

Deadlines Are Easily Met

When you schedule deep work on your calendar each day or week, you can confidently plan out when you will do the work that has deadlines.

Knowing you will have periods of uninterrupted time to work on a piece of work will give you the confidence you need to meet the deadline.

Less Stress

When you know you have the time to do the work without any interruptions, you begin feeling less stressed about what you have to do.

A great example is writing this article. I have a deadline, and I have scheduled two sessions of deep work to get it written and edited. I feel no stress, as I know I will complete it on time.

The Quality of Your Work Will Improve

The problem with allowing distractions into your work time is that you are not fully focused on the work. By giving yourself total focused time on a piece of work, you will naturally improve the quality of it.

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Having Time to Deal With Distractions

One of the fears people have about scheduling deep work is they will miss out on something important. The reality is that it is unlikely, and even if there was something important, you will still see it after your deep work session.

People Will Respect Your Time More

Ever noticed the people in your office who do all the chatting are the ones always complaining about how little time they have to do their work? While it may seem those people are popular, the reality is people are not respecting their time.

When you start doing undisturbed deep work, people will begin respecting your time much more.

Improved Self-Discipline

One of the peripheral benefits of practicing regular sessions of deep work is you will find your self-discipline becomes stronger. Self-discipline is the foundation of achieving so many things in life, from your goals to improvements in your health and relationships.

Improved Work-Life Balance

Many of the reasons we find it difficult to maintain a good work-life balance is because much of the work we have to do is done in fits and starts. When this happens, there is often the need to do catch-up work in the evenings or on the weekends.

Deep work prevents this from happening because you work on the important work in a focused state, leading to more of your work being completed well within the deadlines.

How Long is Deep Work?

At this point, you must be wondering how much time you must dedicate to deep work? Cal Newport suggests that one should book deep work session for an uninterrupted 90 minute timeframe.

However, realistically this would not be achieved at the very first instance. You can start slowly with the time stretches that you can manage but keep a target of 90-minutes, as suggested by Cal Newport.

The maximum time that you can dedicate each day for deep work is 4 hours. The prime reason behind this is the fact that humans find it difficult to have focused attention residue beyond this limit. So, you can comprehend that the evening time would be best for your deep work sessions since you can plan uninterrupted sessions.

Claire Evans, time management and productivity coach says that the time one can allocate to deep work entirely depends on an individual’s personal needs.[2] Some people have a focused attention span of two hours, while others may only manage 20 to 25 minutes free from distraction.

It is best to start with a limited time frame initially and then build up every week.

In her own words,

“Schedule your deep work time into your calendar and block it out. Make it as non-negotiable as your commitments with other people because you need to take it seriously if you want it to be effective.”

9 Grounding Rules For Deep Work

But how can you do deep work more effectively? You can start by following these 9 rules to stay focused.

1. Understand How You Work

If you want to implement deep work into your life, you first need to choose the scheduling philosophy that fits best with the way you work and live. According to Newport, there are four scheduling philosophies:

  • Monastic: This is where you focus almost all of your time on deep work, such as high-leverage activities. As such, you eliminate all other distractions, like social media.
  • Bimodal: Here, you divide your time between deep work and shallow work on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis. For example, you may spend an entire week only on high-leverage activities, but the following week would be devoted to tasks like checking emails or updating slide presentations.
  • Rhythmic: This is where you split your daily schedule between deep and shallow work, like doing your deep work in the morning and saving shallow work for late afternoons or evenings.
  • Journalistic: In this approach, you fit deep work in when you have availability in your schedule. One example would be when a meeting gets canceled — you could now slot that time for your deep work. Another would be to kill endless meetings, they don’t help

Experiment with each if needed. The rhythmic philosophy is probably the most realistic for the majority of workers. Unless you’re writing a book, most of us can only focus on deep work for so long or put off certain responsibilities to a later date. Also, it’s the easiest and most effective technique because you can schedule your deep work around when you’re most productive.[3]

2. Establish Deep Work Routines and Rituals

After determining how you work best, you need to realize that we all have limited willpower. That means you have to have the discipline to stay completely concentrated and focused on the task you’re currently working on.

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The best way to achieve this is to mentally prepare for deep work, as well as create an environment that encourages you to remain focused. As Newport explained in his book:

“The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower necessary, to transition into and maintain a state of unbroken concentration.”

Deep work forces you to decide what work is important and what work would have the biggest positive impact on your projects. When you begin practicing deep work regularly, you start to focus more on the high value work and less on the low value work.

Here are some ways to develop those routines and rituals:

  • Ccreate morning and evening routines that will set you up for success, such as reviewing your calendar in the morning and meditating at night.
  • Set rules for diving into your deep work. For example, when focused on deep work, you close your office door and turn your phone off until it’s time for a break.
  • Work in an environment that’s distraction-free and comfortable — Don’t park at a busy coffee shop with the intention of getting deep work done.
  • Determine how long you want your deep work session to be. The human brain can only focus for so long. While this varies from person to person, a survey conducted by Toggl found that most people can only focus on a task for one to two hours.[4] Start small, with 15-minute sessions, and work up to longer sessions.
  • Take note of anything that helps support deep work, such as specific refreshments, music, white noise, or tools. Make sure you have these available.

3. Prioritize Using the 4DX Framework

In Deep Work, Newport highlights the 4DX framework described in The 4 Disciplines of Execution. Although this was developed by business consultants to be used for companies, it’s also useful in helping individuals work on what matters most.

  • Focus on the Wildly Important. This is a limited number of critical and essential goals that your Deep Work hours should be reserved for.
  • Act on the Lead Measures. Two metrics are used when measuring your success: lag and lead measures. Lag measures are your output, such as how many blog posts you wrote today. Lead measure is the time spent engaged in a state of deep work, making progress toward your most important goals.
  • Keep a Compelling Scoreboard. Have a visible tracking system, such as Seinfeld’s “Don’t break the chain” productivity secret.
  • Create a Cadence of Accountability. Hold yourself accountable by committing to daily or weekly reviews to see what you’ve accomplished. You can also use this information to plan for the following week.

4. Embrace Boredom, and Take Breaks

This may sound counterproductive, especially in such a fast-paced world, but it’s perfectly fine to get bored. In fact, Newport says that:

“To succeed with deep work, you must rewire your brain to be comfortable resisting distracting stimuli.”

For example, if you were waiting in a food truck line, don’t have your phone glued to your face. Instead, accept the boredom and use this unproductive time to do some deep thinking. This is a type of meditation that asks you to focus your attention on a single problem. The trick is learning to return your attention to a specific problem when your mind starts to wander.

Additionally, you should schedule breaks throughout the day for distractions like social media or chatty co-workers. These breaks help your brain rest and recharge for your next deep work session. This way, you’re not fighting against them — you’re simply scheduling them at certain times so they don’t interrupt your focus.

5. Purge Shallow Work from Your Life

According to Newport:

“Shallow work is non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend not to create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.”

In other words, this is busy work.

You don’t want to spend too much time on these tasks. For example, instead of spending a bulk of your day with administrative tasks and scattered meetings, block out specific times for these activities, like having all of your meetings on Tuesdays and only checking your inbox three times a day. Better yet, if you have the resources, delegate or outsource your shallow work.

6. Go off the Grid

You don’t have to go to the extreme and literally disconnect from the outside world. After all, you may still need to be somewhat active on social media for your business. But the idea here is to unplug during deep work hours, so you can remain 100% focused.

The easiest way to do this would be to turn off your phone. If that’s not something you’re comfortable with, put it on airplane mode or do-not-disturb mode. You could also turn off notifications for email or social media or log out of them completely. I’ve found a lot of success by removing social media apps from my phone.

7. Get on the Same Page with Others

Perhaps the most disruptive force distracting you is other people. They’re not doing this to be malicious; they just don’t know that an innocent knock on your door can break your concentration.

Let your co-workers know when you don’t want to be disturbed by closing your door and placing a “Do Not Disturb” sign on it. I share my calendar with my employees so they know when I’m available and when I’ve blocked out time for deep work.

I also do this at home. My family knows not to contact me at the office until it’s time for my breaks, unless it’s an emergency. At home, if I need to do a little work, they also know not to interrupt me in my home office unless I’ve signaled I’m available.

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8. Stop When It’s Time to Stop

It’s a guilty pleasure, but I enjoy the movie “Kingpin.” In one scene, Woody Harrelson is helping to build a barn, and the lunch bell rings. He stops immediately and goes running to get his grub. Needless to say, the others can’t hold up the barn, and it collapses.

But it does illustrate a good point: When the lunch bell rings, it’s time to stop working. This is important for deep work because it can motivate us to stay focused. If you only have an hour to complete a task, you don’t have time for anything else. More importantly, deep work is only effective when you set parameters, like starting and ending points.

Consider setting an alarm, even if it’s just an old-school timer that gives you a five-minute warning. This enables you to wrap things up and not go over that allotted chunk of time.

9. Know the Outcome

Let’s say you have plans to go to a concert after work with some friends. Knowing this, you might have packed a more casual outfit and made plans to meet your friends at a restaurant near the venue. Depending on how late you’ll be out, you might plan on going into work a little later tomorrow. Even if you had a couple of hiccups along the way, like getting stuck in traffic, you know the outcome of the night: You’re going to see an awesome show with friends.

The same mentality is true with deep work. When the brain knows the outcome of what you’re trying to achieve, it will remain focused on that activity until it’s completed to your satisfaction. The idea behind deep work is straightforward: Be more intentional with your time by focusing on the things that push you closer to achieving your goals. It encourages you to be more protective of your time, even if that means quitting social media and saying “no” to requests.

4 Steps to Use Deep Work to Ignite Productivity

1. Use Time Blocks on Your Calendar

The first step to taking advantage of deep work is to block time out on your calendar. To do this, review your calendar for the next day, and identify where you will have one or two hours free for focused work[5].

Time blocking

    Ideally, one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon is what you are looking for, but be flexible. If you have a relatively free morning and back to back meetings in the afternoon, then block time only in the morning.

    2. Find Your Best Time

    Some people are naturally morning people, and others are naturally night people. To really get the benefit of deep work, schedule your deep work sessions when you are at your best.

    For me, that is early in the morning. I do all my focused work between 6 am and 8 am where possible. I’ve found that between 6 am and 8 am, I am also less likely to be disturbed, and there are not likely to be any meetings at that time.

    3. Find a Quiet Place to Work

    If you stay in your normal work station and try to do your focused work, you are going to be interrupted by someone or something.

    Try to find a quiet place to do your work. In an office, find a meeting room where you can work undisturbed. Alternatively, if you are permitted to do so, do your deep work sessions in a local coffee shop or at home.

    What you are looking for is a regular place you can do your deep work that will allow you to go into focused work mode quickly. Using the same place will put you in the right frame of mind as soon as you sit down and start.

    4. Decide What You Will Work on the Day Before

    This step is crucial, because if you do not plan what you will work on before you sit down to do deep work, you will waste valuable time looking for something to do.

    I recommend you take 10 minutes before you finish for the day to make a decision on what you will work on during your focused work time.

    An additional benefit in doing this is you give your subconscious brain time to develop some creative ideas for the project you are going to work on.

    10 Examples of Deep Work

    Are you still wondering if Deep Work really works or if it has any negative impact? Here are some examples to help you gain a better insight about Deep Work and how it has benefited famous personalities:

    1. Tim Cook

    Tim Cook, one of the most successful personalities known worldwide as the C.E.O. of Apple, starts his work day before 4 a.m. Do you wonder why? Here is what he said in an interview. He says that early morning is free of distractions, and therefore it helps him keep better control and plan his work strategies.

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    2. Bill Gates

    The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, calls it “think week.” He spends two weeks alone in his cabin in the forest each year. He makes sure to spend this alone time twice a year to stay with these thoughts and declutter his mind by keeping himself secluded from the outside world. At this time, he remains completely disconnected from his family, friends, and work. Gates spend this time reading and thinking.

    If you are wondering how this could help, let me just tell you this – Bill Gates came up with the plan for Microsoft Tablet P.C. during one of this “Think Week.”

    3. Albert Einstein

    Scientist Albert Einstein was an introvert and preferred his time spent alone. But his reasons for doing so were intriguing. He said,

    “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulate the creative mind.”

    4. Warren Buffet

    Warren Buffet, one of the richest people in the world, is an introvert. He prefers to spend time in solitude frequently. One of the major benefits he gained from doing so is that he got all the focus required to become an expert.

    Many people panic and make hasty decisions that lead to peril. However, Buffet can act wisely in such instances since he has developed this ability to think clearly when others can’t.

    5. Susan Cain

    Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, says that the ability to spend time in solitude and think clearly while doing is one of the biggest reasons behind Warren Buffet’s success.

    6. Jeff Weiner

    EO Jeff Weiner schedules 30 to 90 minutes every day to do nothing. He uses this time to allow himself to process what’s going on around him and think.

    Weiner says,

    “At first, these buffers felt like indulgences. I could have been using the time to catch up on meetings I had pushed out or said ‘no’ to. But over time, I realized not only were these breaks important, and they were absolutely necessary for me to do my job. The buffer is the best investment you can make in yourself and the single most important productivity tool I use.”

    7. J.K. Rowling

    J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, disappeared completely from social media when she penned down the series. Do you think this cognitively demanding task would have been possible hadn’t she adopted digital minimalism or digital absence? The straightforward answer is no!

    8. Sir Richard Branson

    Sir Richard Branson believes strongly in having a to-do-list. He prefers to prioritize his time using his calendar schedule

    9. Michelle Obama

    Michelle Obama is ruthlessly efficient and keeps her work and family life organized by scheduling everything on her calendar.

    10. Elon Musk

    Elon Musk always plans his day the night before. He says,

    “I know what needs to be done (long term and short term), and I schedule the next day accordingly. Everything is on my calendar. I have a simple rule: I don’t work on it if it’s not on my calendar”.

    Bottom Line

    The ability to focus is a valuable skill if you want to achieve your goals and become successful. Practicing deep work and truly mastering this skill will make you free from distraction and benefit your work, your career, and your life. All you need to do is decide when you will do your deep work.

    If you continue to practice and adjust these rules so they work for you, deep work can help you work smarter and become more fulfilled. Staying focused is hard in a world of distractions, but it most certainly pays off.

    Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    More by this author

    John Hall

    John Hall is the co-founder and president of Calendar, a leading scheduling and productivity app that will change how we manage and invest our time.

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    Last Updated on November 29, 2021

    How to Become Indistractable: 4 Powerful Tactics to Help You Focus

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    How to Become Indistractable: 4 Powerful Tactics to Help You Focus

    From modern technology to interactions with our friends, family, and coworkers, distractions are practically unavoidable. This makes it very hard to focus, especially for a sustained period of time on a specific task. Becoming indistractable, then, is an important skill to learn if we want to be truly productive.

    Distractions aren’t going to decrease any time soon with advances in technology. Therefore, there is no better time than now to learn the best strategies to help you defeat distractions head on. Remember, many distractions may be out of your control, but you can learn to take charge of whether or not they take control of you.

    In this article, you’ll learn not only why distractions are so destructive, but also why they exist in the first place, and a powerful technique that can help you get rid of them for good.

    What Is a Distraction?

    A distraction is anything that draws attention away from what you’re doing at a given moment. Examples include looking at your phone each time a notification pops up, chatting with people who stop by your office space while you’re working, or checking social media or emails while trying to finish a big project.

    Distractions can cause problems for more than just a few seconds. When you switch your attention, you create attention residue, which can linger for an extended amount of time, getting in the way of your focus.

    If you really want to become indistractable, you’ll need to overcome each distraction that steps in your path.

    Traction: The Opposite of Distraction

    We’ve come to the conclusion that distractions are bad, and we don’t want them interfering with what we need to get done. What we want to achieve is the opposite: traction. Now, there aren’t any official antonym for distraction. However, I propose it so as by definition traction is any action that moves us towards what we really want.

    Traction is an action that you fully engage in with intent—following through with what you say you will do.

      How To Tell If You’re Distracted

      Most people find it quite common to be distracted. The bustle of everyday life, heightened by social media and other means of escapism into a reality that’s not ours, has offered everyone things to pass their time with.

      Today, being distracted leads to wasting a significant amount of time during the day. Yet, it is not addressed as seriously as it should be. If you can spot the signs of distraction, then you can tackle the issue in time and live the life you want to.

      “Most people don’t want to acknowledge the uncomfortable truth that distraction is always an unhealthy escape from reality.”
      [1]

      We have become so used to being distracted that we hardly see it as a bad thing anymore. Distraction can look different in various kinds of people. However, if you’re looking to become indistractable then here are signs to look out for to check if you’re becoming distracted so you can address the issue in time.

      • You find yourself wanting to check your phone frequently: Checking your phone often or feeling the need to constantly be active on social media during work hours or when you’re doing a task is one of the biggest signs of distraction.
      • You look at an object for a long time unable to figure out what to do with it: Although you have something to do, and the materials to do it with, you find it hard to figure out how to go about the task
      • The thing you’re working on feels so boring you want to do something fun: This stems from dissatisfaction with the work you’re doing. This dissatisfaction leads to you feeling bored with your task and seeking external comfort in something ‘fun’.
      • When you’re doing something mundane, you’re thinking about doing the things you like: Constantly thinking about things you like is what most people do when they cannot keep traction with the work in front of them. This usually happens when they are thinking about activities they look forward to once the task is over.
      • Audio-visual stimuli around you make it hard to focus on the task at hand: Although you’re working on the task, every voice or passing visual catches your attention. This may cause you to forget about work and listen in on a nearby conversation instead.

      The Reasons for Distraction

      When we talk about distractions, we’re talking about human behavior and reactions to the distractions themselves. And, all human behavior is marked by external or internal triggers.

      External Triggers

      External triggers

      are cues that we take from our environment that tell us what to do, such as pings from our phone or computer that prompt us to look at whatever the alert is announcing: an Instagram update, an email, a text from an old friend. These external triggers compete for our attention with whatever task we’re ultimately trying to focus on. Sometimes, the mere presence of an object itself, such as having your phone nearby, can prompt you to give it attention.

      Internal Triggers

      There are also internal triggers, which are simply cues that come from within, such as hunger, anxiety about an upcoming event, or feeling cold.

      All human behavior is prompted by external or internal triggers; therefore, traction and distraction both originate from the same source.

      How to Overcome Distraction and Become Indistractable

      Distractions can easily take over your life, but below I outline 4 simple tactics to take back your control and become indistractable. This concept I am sharing with you now draws from my book Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.

      1. Master Internal Triggers

      To overcome distractions and slip into deep work, you first need to understand your root cause of distraction. Humans have a natural tendency to want to escape discomfort. Even at times where we are going after pleasure and positive events, our drive often revolves around freeing ourselves from the discomfort of wanting.

      In truth, we will turn to social media, emails, video games, and Netflix not necessarily for the pleasure that they provide, but because of how they free us from psychological discomfort within. While it provides temporary relief, it is an unhealthy way to deal with your life. Even though you can’t control all outside situations and occurrences, you can control how you react to those circumstances.

      Various studies show that when humans don’t give into an urge, craving or impulse, it can trigger rumination and make the desire grow even stronger. So, when you eventually give in, your reward is increased, which can turn quickly into an undesired habit.

      Identify the Feeling or Thought Behind Your Urge

      When you find yourself wanting to give into your distraction, stop and become familiar with the internal trigger. Are you feeling anxious, overtired, or maybe you’re underprepared for the task at hand?

      Write Your Feelings Down

      Using a log and writing down the time of day and what you were doing, along with the feeling that accompanies it. Doing so will help you link your own behaviors with your internal triggers, which will help you better notice the thoughts and feelings that precede certain behaviors and better manage them.

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      Get Curious and Explore Your Feelings and Sensations

      Have a sense of curiosity towards your feelings. Notice if you have butterflies in your stomach, or a tightening in your muscles.

      2. Make Time for Traction

      Planning is critical to beating distractions, because if you don’t plan your day, surely someone else will! When you’re not clear on how you want to deal with your time and attention, anything and everything becomes a potential distraction.

      First, you need to turn your values into time. Of course, many of us want to spend more time with things that matter most to us: our family, friends and hobbies. But, we often fail to do so because we don’t make time for them in our day.

      So, you must acquire the attributes and values of the person you want to become.

      Examples might include becoming a contributing member of a team, spending quality time with your children, jumping into continuing education, becoming physically fit, or giving back to your community. Many of us wish to subscribe to these values, but without making the time to take actions to live them out, they’re simply empty aspirations.

      Timebox Your Schedule

      Timeboxing is, in my opinion, the most effective way to ensure time for your values. Timeboxing is the process of deciding what you’re going to do and exactly when you’re going to do it, helping you become indistractable.

      You simply create a daily calendar template for how to spend your time, so that you have no white space in your day. It isn’t important what you have planned to do, as long as you stick to it. If you feel a need to scroll through social media, just make sure you have planned appropriately for it.

      Be sure to include 15 minutes per week to reflect and refine your calendar, improving it week by week. You can ask yourself: When did I do what I said I would do, and when did I get distracted?

      At times where you became distracted, note what triggered it and come up with a strategy to use the next time the distraction or urge arises. Also ask: Are there changes I can make to my calendar that will give me the time I need to better express my values?

      Synch Your Schedule With Others

      Once your ideal week has been planned, be sure to notify others of importance in your life. Make a clear intention to stick with your plans and involve those who matter most. This could be related to sharing household responsibilities, alerting your boss to your timeline intentions at work, or even scheduling a date with your partner.

      3. Combat External Technical Triggers

      Tech companies are adept at using external triggers to hack into our attention. There are countless ways they do so, but our smartphone use is fueled by many of these triggers.

      Research shows that ignoring a call or message can be just as distracting as responding to one! If used properly, though, you can take control and rely on these external triggers to remind you to follow through with what you planned.

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      To do so, simply ask whether the external trigger is serving you, or if you are serving it. If the trigger leads you to traction, keep it; if it leads you to distraction, get rid of it. A few things to consider:

      1. Remove any and all apps you no longer need.
      2. Remove any apps that you enjoy, but you can use on your computer instead.
      3. Reduce the clutter on your home screen by rearranging the apps on your phone.
      4. Remove notification settings for each app that you don’t need updates on (social media, etc.).

      4. Make a Pact to Prevent Distractions

      Forethought is the antidote to impulsivity and key to becoming indistractable. Therefore, it’s useful to pre-commit to something in order to overcome distraction.

      We cement these decisions far in advance of any temptations and distractions that may come our way. This should only be undertaken after you have followed the other three steps and learned to manage internal triggers, make time for traction, and reduce external triggers.

      Here are the three types of pacts:

      Effort Pact

      This is a kind of pre-commitment that requires you to increase the amount of effort towards something you would rather not do. Increasing your effort forces you make the decision as to whether the distraction is really worth it or not. Some great apps that can help you with this include SelfControl, Forest, and Freedom.

      Price Pact

      This pact puts money on the line, where you get to keep your money if you follow through with your intended behavior, and if you get distracted, you lose your funds.

      I committed to a price pact when finishing the first draft of my book, promising an accountability partner $10,000 if I failed to finish my draft by the set deadline. This was an incentive for me to finish writing my book and keep my money.

      Identity Pact

      This is the method of using your self-image to impact your behavior and become indistractable. By deciding on and undertaking a new identity, you will empower yourself to make decisions based on who you believe you are. Think about vegetarians—they do not have to expend much willpower to avoid eating meat because they have committed to that as part of their identity.

      To become a person who is indistractable, stop telling yourself you are a person with a “short attention span” or an “addictive personality.” Rather, tell yourself, “I am indistractable.” If you say to yourself that you are easily distracted, it instantly becomes a truth. Yet, if you commit to believing that you are indistractable, you will immediately begin to implement these strategies, which will empower you to conquer any distraction that comes your way.

      Easy to Use Tools That Help You Stay Focused

      Technology doesn’t have to be the enemy if you’re looking to become more focused and avoid distractions. Some anti-distraction tools and apps help keep you focused by blocking out possible causes for distraction.

      You might be the sort of person who faces distraction at work, or you just can’t make yourself sit down at your desk and get to work, but there’s always hope. Here are some of the best tools that remove distractions and bring out your best potential.

      1. Dewo

      This apps blocks all distracting social media apps automatically, keeping you free from notifications and the constant light-up of your screen. The best part of Dewo is that it gets accustomed to your focus patterns and can even go on ‘automatic’ mode for you.

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      You can ask the app to schedule meetings and appointments for people in your contacts, and it simply picks the most convenient time for you that won’t interfere with your focus schedule.

      2. Freedom

      The Freedom app, much contrary to its name, restricts websites and locks up the internet during focus hours. Once you’ve made up your mind to lock up apps then it won’t let you access them regardless of how you feel later.

      For those who find themselves distracted even on their laptop, this app will work on the computer as well. Most people may consider these methods ruthless, but they are incredibly effective.

      3. Focusme

      Readers who are looking for an app that helps them create healthy work patterns, minimize distraction, block attractive sites, and much more – FocusMe is the perfect app for you. This app helps block out certain apps and sites for selected periods.

      It also gets used to the owner’s work ethic and gives helpful tips and suggestions on what apps to block and when to take breaks. This increases productivity and reduces the chances of dissatisfaction and boredom.

      The Bottom Line

      To become indistractable, you don’t need to have superpowers. It’s truly as easy as following the few steps mentioned above. When you master internal triggers, make time for traction, dissolve any extraneous external triggers, and prevent distractions by creating pacts, you will reshape your entire life.

      However, the important part is to understand that to make a difference, you need to act now. There is no better time to regain control over your life than the present. Taking things step-by-step helps you sustainably achieve your goals. You want to be indistractable for the rest of your life, not just for the week.

      Once you have the ability to see tasks to the end after having committed to them, nothing in life can derail you from your path. This is why indistractability is important, it disciplines you to deal with the harsh realities of life.

      Here are some tips on how to work on your traction just as you finish reading this article.

      • Go through your apps and remove ones that are absolutely unnecessary to your life and goal. You may keep only two that you use for games or recreation.
      • Practice mindfulness through keeping a diary, making observations about your day, having a to-do list, and much more.
      • Whenever you find yourself distracted, re-evaluate the place of that distraction in your life and how it implicates your life’s goals.

      More to Help You Stay Focused

      Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Nir Eyal, Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life

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