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10 Ways To Remove The Distractions That Keep You From Doing the Best At Work

10 Ways To Remove The Distractions That Keep You From Doing the Best At Work

Tired of distractions clouding your focus? Here’s how to remove them.

Your lifetime is made up of days, days of hours and hours of minutes. Although, a minute or ten doesn’t seem like much, the idea that you can waste a few minutes is the biggest, fattest lie you’ll ever tell yourself. Life is fast, time flies and nobody’s going to wait or take pity on you because you stayed behind, absorbed with distractions and useless clutter. If you’re not careful, they will ruin your life before you know it. There are hundreds of decoys jumping in the front seat of your life and, collectively, they will take over the steering wheel if you allow them. They always promise extraordinary results and outstanding effects but what they really do is keep you from doing important things and achieving your big goals. You have no choice but to remove them if you have dreams and aspirations to attain.

There are several areas of life where these distractions can be managed and eliminated:

1. Remove crappy habits undercutting your wellness.

remove distractions
    Manage your life hygiene‒rest, diet and exercise to boost your energy. Turn off the TV (worst known garbage) or better yet, move it to a less frequented room. This usually  does the trick. Set up a bedtime routine, which will help you sleep well, and the third must-do is hiring a good private trainer, who will not only motivate you to work out regularly, but also set you up on a good diet. These 3 simple actions will give you a clearer mind and energy to do your work. They will make you appreciate relaxation and physical wellness. The negativity voices from the media vultures won’t reach you that easily anymore once you get to know the state of blissful health and clarity. Remember, you won’t get very far in a broken machine. You’ll need it well-oiled and ready for a challenge. Being an achiever in the long term perspective is what you want, but burning out quickly is what you get without sleep, healthy diet and exercise.
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    2. Declutter your mind.

    remove distractions

      Cacophony of voices, text messages, tweets, sales pitches, and bold headlines fight for your attention. You hear a song on the radio hit list and you can’t hear your own voice over its continuous replay in your head. The first thing you should do is notice that you’re running on autopilot. The next natural step is to turn it off. It’s not easy to fight your default mechanism at first, it’s deeply rooted, but it’s a matter of practice and mindfulness. Start exercising your impulse-control. Focus on here and now. Writing that report will go much easier if you enter the state of flow. Think about the direct impact you’ll make, if you carry out the task efficiently and on time. Think about the satisfaction you’ll feel afterwards. This is the best reward and it will keep you on track for the future tasks as you gain the momentum. Focus is your natural gift. Use it well.

      3. Clear your day up front before you start it.

      In the morning, before your workday begins, dedicate a few minutes to managing your schedule. A great way to do it is by applying the Covey time management matrix. Have a moment to set your priorities and determine which tasks are truly vital and urgent that day, which are not so urgent but still very important and which you should avoid, either by delegating or eliminating altogether. This last type of tasks may be tricky because they will often be urgent, though uninspiring,  issues, like questions from colleagues concerning their problems, phone calls and emails that you answer by default, only because you’ve always done it and that’s the way it’s always been. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Not really. Take control and make a conscious decision of what you’re going to when they come knocking. Once you’ve made it, hold on to it and ruthlessly follow through.

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      4. Prepare your workplace.

      When you’re facing a lengthy or complex task involving concentration, prepare your place of work, so that you can avoid distractions and won’t need to make unnecessary breaks. Breaks aren’t bad in themselves‒it’s the involuntary deconcentration that may cause a setback to your progress. Empty the wall in front of you to keep your mind on track. Photos, prints and various knick-knacks you like to display may be cute, but they will make your mind wander. Declutter your office and desk to enable the free flow of energy‒brainwork and reflection like emptiness, harmony, air and balance. Also, cater to your physical needs: make sure you have some water and a light snack around in case you feel thirsty or hungry. It’s good for your body and spares you the trip to the nearest vending machine with high-calorie snacks that are heavy on your waist.

      5. Zen your computer.

      The first and most obvious distraction is the incessant stream of incoming email. You can see it on your desktop and hear a signal every time there’s a new message.

      remove distractions
        Curiosity always wins, so go cold turkey and turn it off. Make a  clean cut. There are many cool ways to deal with other kinds of distractions, such as social networking sites. There’s a great app called Anti-Social that blocks social media and lets you become more productive. It will block the sites that you waste your time on and can’t be turned off, which makes it an excellent help. There’s a great choice of apps that will register your computer use and time you spend on individual sites. Here are some of them: RescueTime, Klok, Slife and ManicTime. RescueTime, for instance, will give you a readout at the end of the day (and year if you opt for the $6 a month Pro version) of your web activities. There are all kinds of apps to help you concentrate and remove unwanted temptations, and their use depends on the type of work you’re doing. If you do a lot of writing, there are the Mac-based WriteRoom and its Windows counterpart, Dark Room, which promise “distraction-free writing” by trimming your screen down to one function: Writing. There’s also the popular OmmWriter, which possesses a few cool features like meditative music and chromotherapy which create a unique environment to enable you to focus on your writing.

        6. Set your time.

        remove distractions
          Don’t forget about the second most important element of our puzzle here: time. Setting time slots for individual tasks makes them more substantial and less elusive. After you sit down at you desk, write a list of tasks with time allotment. Don’t sweat if you run a little late with your schedule; it’s solely for your orientation and to help you with future planning. This habit makes your day finite and grounds your workload in it, so you’re able to keep track of every moment and avoid procrastination.
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          7. Solidify your attitude.

          To avoid possible distractions, manage your approach to the task. The “Act as if…” approach works nicely. It is simple: pretend you’re being watched and your task is approaching the deadline. It has been proven that our performance improves significantly if we know we’re being observed and assessed. In truth, we are evaluated all the time, either by people or by life itself. Whether you’re doing well on the job market or not, depends on your performance over a period of time, usually a year, and a year is  broken down to a month, a week, and a  day.

          8. Close the door.

          remove distractions
            Stephen King, the master of American Horror and a very diligent, prolific writer gives this advice in his book “On Writing.” If you can’t do that literally, do it figuratively. Tell everyone that you’re busy for a certain  period of  time and ask them not to disturb you. If you work all the time you’re at work instead of chatting with coworkers, you’ll gain a lot of time, which will let you move much faster and achieve even more. This also involves turning off your phone. Either do it completely or at least mute it so that nobody gets between you and your task.

            9. Manage the tasks.

            Managing tasks is a basic skill they teach at leadership courses. If you can apply the simple rules, your progress will become tangible and you’ll accelerate your work tremendously. Firstly, you need to deal with big tasks. They may be overwhelming and discouraging, so what you need to do is break them up to smaller chunks. You’ve probably heard the saying that “you eat an elephant one bite at a time.” It does work.Take it one step at a time and don’t let fears and worries distract you from your work.They don’t exist‒they’re only figments of your imagination. You may also get a bit overwhelmed with small details. To get that problem out of your way, do the opposite: compile and put together a bunch of minor assignments and complete them all in a row. It’s especially effective if the tasks are of similar nature, like money transfers, phone calls or a pile of invoices to input to our system.

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            10. Go an extra mile.

            remove distractions
              As you’ve probably heard, there are no traffic jams on the extra mile. And literally, traffic is the number one time thief nowadays. If you arrive one hour early at the office and leave one hour later than everyone else, you’ll get much more done. Not only because you’ll avoid congested streets and lots of stress, but also the empty office won’t distract you from your productive efforts. In the end, you will be the one gaining more time thanks to this idea. photo: Fleecirus

              Before you go on to whatever you’re going to do next, think about why you read this article in the first place. You did it because you want to do and be something more to be better than before. Remember the universally true Einstein’s words: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you just go on with your usual routine, default course of action and forget what you’ve read here, the distractions win and you lose. What is it that you can do right now to apply at least one piece of advice from this article? Is there anything more you could do to build upon and become the person you wish?

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              Last Updated on April 8, 2020

              How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious

              How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious

              Overwhelmed with work, family responsibilities, financial challenges and health issues are common culprits which catalyze stress and anxiety symptoms that show up differently in each and every one of us.

              Whilst many of us are becoming much better at identifying what can trigger us to feel these, we’re not always that great at recognizing our individual thresholds; we don’t know exactly how to calm down when the mental, emotional storms erupt.

              We can almost see you eye-rolling upon hearing commonly recommended stress antidotes such as taking a bath, lighting candles or going for a walk. Let’s face it. These simply aren’t practical things you can do when you’re on a red-eye flight at 5:30am to run a full day of training interstate and then fly back the same evening not to mention juggling a young family.

              You want to know your triggers, predict the impact of them and have your own suite of tools up your sleeve to calm down that impact for the long-term.

              Doing a little ground work to gain a strong self-awareness of your likely reactions puts you smack bang in the pilot seat to develop a robust mental and emotional toolkit that will work wonders for you.

              A few simple but well-practiced techniques may be all you need to simmer down the cyclonic intensity of emotions, and disparaging thoughts pecking away at your self-esteem and confidence. However, it’s important you do this self-reflective groundwork first to gain maximum impact for long-term effect.

              1. Strengthen Familiarity with What Triggers You

              When you have arguments with your loved one, do you stop and look to see if there are certain things you fight about? Are there certain behaviors they display that drive you bananas?

              Take your focus off them and ask yourself: “What is my usual response?”

              Perhaps you feel the anger welling up inside your chest and you then spurt out that you’ve told him or her ten times before to not leave their underwear lying across the bedroom floor.

              Think a little deeper. Ask yourself what values, standards and expectations you have that are not being met here. You’ll likely be attached to certain ways you believe things should play out. Are there assumptions and expectations as to how you believe people should conduct themselves and principles about how you feel you should be treated?

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              Having a strong attachment to these for yourself is one thing. Expecting others to have the same attachment is often what can make the hot water start simmering.

              It is often when people behave in ways inconsistent with our belief systems and events unfold in discord with what we expect and are prepared for that we feel the most stress and anxiety.

              Make a list of the common circumstances in different areas of your life that cause you to become anxious and stressed. Against each of these, describe your stress response:

              What happens? What do you feel?

              Now think about the values, principles and expectations you have attached to these. You’ll see you have a few options:

              • Change my values and expectations
              • Try to change other’s values and expectations
              • Recognize and be in allowance of others having different values, standards and expectations

              Reviewing how you react when you’re stressed and anxious, and identifying which of these three options above is going to best serve you, can greatly increase your ability to feel and be in control of calming your reaction.

              You move closer to being able to choose how you want to respond as opposed to feeling helpless and the world is spiralling out of control.

              2. Have Coping Statements on Hand

              When you have a washing machine of chaotic thoughts churning in your mind, trying to implant thoughts that are the complete opposite of what you’re thinking and feeling can be pretty hard.

              Not being able to do it can also add another layer of us feeling disappointment in ourselves. We feel we’re failing.

              Having coping statements that you can literally latch on to to help you calm down in those stressful and anxious moments, can be particularly helpful.

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              Look at creating palm cards and just have three to five of these you can have in your pocket or in your purse. Here are 6 examples:

              • Even though I am feeling this right now, I am going to be alright
              • What I am feeling right now is uncomfortable. I won’t feel this way forever. Soon the intensity of what I am feeling will pass.
              • I’ve survived these feelings before. I can do it again.
              • I feel this way because of my past experiences but right now, I am actually safe.
              • It’s ok for me to feel this way. My body and brain are trying to protect me but I am actually safe right now.
              • Ah, here you are again, anxiety. Thanks for showing up to protect me, but I don’t need you right now.

              Choose words and dialogue that feel true and accurate for you. Read the statements out to yourself and test how fitting they are for you. What feels more assuring, calming and right for you?

              Make these statements your own. The aim is of these statements is to de-escalate the intensity of what you feel when you’re anxious and stressed.

              Remember, you want to refrain from having blunt statements which feel or sound like they’re self-reprimanding because they won’t be pacifying in a positive way.

              If you are unsure as to how to come up with statements that fit for you, look to work with a psychologist or licensed therapist to give you a strong start.

              3. Identify and Develop Physical Anchors

              You actually have within you resources to provide some of the most effective ways to calm yourself down in heightened moments you feel stressed and anxious. Renowned clinical psychologist Dr. Peter Levine and expert in treating stress and trauma, teaches us how techniques which do this, such as Somatic Experiencing®[1] can significantly help us calm down.

              By learning to be fully present and applying touch to certain areas of your body (e.g. forehead and heart space), you increase your capacity to self-regulate. You also learn how to attend to and release your unique symptoms that your body has been containing in a way you have not been able to before.

              Here’s one technique example:

              1. Get in a comfortable position
              2. Have your eyes open or closed, whatever feels most comfortable for you
              3. Now place one hand on your forehead, palm side flat against the skin
              4. Place the other hand, palm down across your heart space above your sternum… the flat of your chest area.
              5. Gently turn your attention to what you feel physically in the area between your two hands. Observe and just take notice of what you physically feel. Is your chest pounding? How strong are its beat and the rhythm? Do you notice any other sensations anywhere else between your two hands?
              6. Don’t try to push or resist what you’re feeling. Try to just sit with it and remain this way with your hands in place until you feel a shift, a physical one. It might take a little longer, so try to be patient.

              You might feel a change in energy flow, a change in temperature or different, less intense sensations. Just keep your hands in place until you feel some kind of shift, even if gradual.

              It might take you even 5 to 10 minutes but, riding this wave will help you to process what discomfort your body is containing. It will greatly help to release it so you gradually become calmer.

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              Purely cognitive exercises can be tough at the outset. Learning somatic experience techniques is particularly helpful because you’re engaging in exercises where you physically can feel the difference. Feeling the changes helps you increase confidence you can control and reduce the discomfort you’re feeling. You’ll be motivated to keep practicing and improving this skill you can take anywhere, anytime.

              4. Move and Get Physical

              If you’re not one to exercise, you’re robbing yourself of some very easy ways which help you calm down and reduce stress and anxiety responses. Many neuro chemical changes take place when you engage in exercise.

              At certain levels of physical exertion, your brain’s pituitary gland releases neurotransmitter endorphins. When they bind with certain opiate receptors in your brain, signals are transmuted throughout your nervous system to reduce feelings of pain and trigger feelings of euphoria. You might have heard the term ‘runner’s high’.

              For the last 20 years, University of Missouri-Columbia’s Professor Richard Cox has conducted research showing that high intensity interval training (HIIT) is more effective at reducing anxiety and stress levels than other forms of aerobic exercise.[2] However, if you would rather slay dragons than turn up an F45 class, it’s essential you still find something that will physically shift you and alter your current mental and emotional state of mind, even just a fraction to start with. It’s 100% ok if this is not your cup of tea.

              So in a day full of back of back-to-back meetings, what can you do?

              If you’re sitting, stand. Change your posture and open your body up. Have a suite of discrete stretches you can do regularly as you deepen and engage in diaphragmatic breathing.

              If you’re looking down at your desk at work and feeling increasingly stressed, look up and change what you’re looking at. Give yourself more than a few moments to decompress.

              The main thing is to change your disposition from the one you’re in when you are experiencing anxiety and stress symptoms. You’re shaking it up to calm it down.

              5. Transform Your Unhelpful Inner Dialogue and Its Energy

              Learning cognitive restructuring techniques can truly work wonders in helping you recognize and re-frame unhelpful dialogue and negative critical thinking patterns. This involves a little preparation being transparent with yourself about what exaggerated perspectives you might ascribe to what’s happening when you’re feeling stressed and anxious.

              When you open your email inbox and see a flood of requests which require more time and energy you have for that day, dread starts to settle in and the following comes to mind: “This is impossible. How can they expect me to be able to do all this? It’s completely unreasonable!”

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              Instantly, many other thoughts that reinforce this line of thinking as well as the emotional energy of your first conscious thought start unravelling. A 4-step process you can engage to calm the eruption is:

              1. Catch and notice that first thought you had. What was it? What did you think and/or say to yourself?
              2. Recognize that what you’re feeling and be in allowance of the initial intensity of whatever those emotions are.
              3. Breath deliberately a little more deeply and slowly for a few seconds.
              4. State to yourself: “Right now (in this moment) I’m feeling overwhelmed by this, however maybe I can look at what I can make good progress and headway with as a start from here on.”

              Notice the language in step 4 is tentative, supportive, soft and not resistant nor defiant of what your original thought was. You accept your original thought, but gradually you become stronger at pivoting it.[3] You’re expanding your growth mindset language.

              It’s definitely worth working with a coach or trained therapist to learn how to tailor re-framing statements which can truly help you calm down.

              Final Thoughts

              We know, in our minds what we should do. When we’re in the thick of experiencing mental and emotional turmoil, it’s actually harder to implement what we know. In those moments, you’re unlikely to have capacity to think about what you need to do, let alone do it effectively to help you feel calmer.

              The key is to practice so that when the storm is brewing, your toolkit and supplies are in easy access. You already know your safety drill well.

              Knowing you have strategies and prepared processes up your sleeves helps you not only become better at calming yourself in amongst currently stressful situations. You have more confidence now to face more anxiety-provoking stressors because you have developed the resources to handle it.

              How you invest time and energy into getting to know your triggers and thresholds will influence how effective these strategies will work for you. We’re not denying relaxing baths or regular massages are helpful, however these band-aid-like solutions don’t really confront the root causes.

              If you truly want to turn your experience of your stress and anxiety symptoms around, dig deeper, do the groundwork and that which rattled your cage will quickly become a thing of the past.

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              Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

              Reference

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