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4 Distraction Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

4 Distraction Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them


    Are you doing a task but without a 100% focus on it? Then later you realize that you have to go back to that task and fix the work because you were unfocused?

    If you are experiencing this, you have wasted your time and you are bringing unnecessary stress upon yourself. What is distracting you? Why do you tend to focus less than 100% on your task when you take action?

    Here are few reasons:

    1. You are tired.

    Working tired is perhaps something we are all guilty of – yet we do a task, thinking that we can perform it as well as if we were alert. Unfortunately this is not true.

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    Previously I have been guilty of this too; I began working tired and then the next day I had to go back and fix things, because I was not focusing enough initially.

    Fortunately, I have learned from those mistakes and I now understand to quit working if I’m too tired to concentrate.

    Some of the great ways to fix your tiredness is to:

    • Take powernaps (20 minutes max)
    • Make sure that you get enough sleep (this depends of the person)
    • Make sure your bedroom is dark and chilly enough
    • Exercise regularly (but not immediately before going to sleep)
    • Avoid eating heavy meals a few hours before going to bed

    2. You are not motivated to do the task.

    Another cause for distraction is that you are not motivated to do the task in the first place.  Your mind wanders and you are not producing the best work quality that you are capable of.

    If you are not motivated, you have to figure out why you are doing the task in the first place:

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    • If that task belongs to your job, then you just have to deal with it since it’s part of the work. On the other hand, you can always discuss the situation with your boss – maybe you two will be able to come up with a solution for your issue.
    • If the task is set by the law (like reporting your taxes to authorities), then there is nothing you can do about it – you just have to do the task even if you don’t like it (making sure to do it sooner than later).
    • If the mundane work belongs to your personal project, you might consider outsourcing it for someone else, automating it or even questioning yourself: “Is this task really necessary?”
    • Finally, if you have no justification for the task and it is not mandatory to do – then why are you doing it at all?

    3. You are distracted both physically and mentally.

    Distraction exists on many levels and it’s one of the biggest reasons for underperforming in your work.

    Not only is electronic distraction (e-mails, social media or Internet in general) ruining your work focus, it is also the physical and mental distraction that’s causing you to work with partial focus and achieve partial results.

    First, you should find a place where you can fully focus on your task. This could be a library, coffee shop or out in the park.  Also, make sure you have all the electronic distractions like e-mail, cell phone or instant messaging turned off.

    Second, if it’s your mind that’s causing you to underperform, make sure that you are fully rested, you are not hungry when you work and that you are not going through any type of emotional rollercoaster.

    The fact is that all of these can increase your distraction level thus decreasing the chance of optimum output.

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    4. You don’t know how to do it.

    There is nothing more frustrating than trying to work on a task, but you don’t have a clue how to do it. If your skills are not enough for the task, then you are going to face a rough times trying to complete it while keeping your deadlines.

    In a situation like this, you can reach out to other people.

    In a day job situation, let the project manager or your boss know about the situation and have a chat together to figure out what to do (do you need mentoring or other colleagues to help you out?).

    If this is your personal project or hobby we are talking about, you have to be willing to ask for help. I bet there are many people out there who have encountered a similar situation like you before.

    Simply by asking, you can solve many frustrations and produce quality work.

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    Be “almost perfect”

    When you decide to work on a task, make sure that the conditions surrounding you are as enjoyable and relaxing as possible (see the steps a-d above).

    It is important to be “as perfect as possible.” In other words, whenever you perform a task, execute it with 100% commitment and focus. This means that you are doing the best you can with your current conditions and skillset.

    Instead of aiming for perfection when executing your work steps, try to have perfect focus instead. This ensures that you produce quality work with the least amount of wasted time and energy.

    Conclusion

    It is important to realize that working with less than 100% focus is an inefficient way to complete tasks. In the worst case, you have to go back and fix errors – something that could have been avoided if you were focused from the get-go.

    When you work on your task, make sure that the environment supports your productivity. This means cutting the online connections for a while, and if necessary, moving to a separate physical location while you work.

    Finally, having a calm, rested mind is also a great way to tackle mental distraction. To increase your chances even more for great results, make sure you body is fed properly before you start working.

    (Photo credit: Bored Young Businessman via Shutterstock)

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    Timo Kiander

    Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

     

    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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