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Dealing With Distractions

Chances are if you’re anything like us, you’ve already been distracted several times today. We find that we are much more distracted first thing in the morning as we’re always thinking about what needs to get done that day, where did our phone get left, is it too soon for another cup of coffee?

Well, we’re already on coffee #3 so we might be set there for a bit. We’ve got our calming, lyric-less music playing in the background, and we’ve written out our to-do list for the day. So we might be in good shape.

But have you noticed that when you have work ahead of you that you aren’t super excited for, you tend to wander off? Whether it’s onto other tasks that are less important, checking your email, or even wander out of your office? It’s funny what happens when distraction meets procrastination – it’s as though they were a match made in heaven!

We decided to compile a few tips n’ tricks of how we deal with distractions in hopes that at least one of these will help keep you focused just a tiny bit longer. 

  1. Prepare: before you even get to your desk, bring everything you need with you (coffee, water, breakfast/snack, planner(s), glasses – literally all of it!) so that you aren’t having to hunt things down after just sitting down. Train your mind so that when you sit down at your desk (or stand at your desk if you’re fancy!), you will stay there. At least for a bit. But sitting down, then remembering you forgot something in another room, coming back, then needing water, then coming back – this is not a great start to the day and makes it a bit too scattered for our liking. Since our office is in the basement, I’ll pile everything by the stairs before coming down – water, coffee, phone, laptop, planners, glasses, comfy socks, and anything else I might need that’s made its way out of my office.
  2. Plan: once you’re in and settled, take a look at your schedule, block out any required time for focus work, and make a list of tasks / assignments for the day. Batching them together will make it simpler to get through as you aren’t jumping from emails to graphics to scheduling to writing – that has a very choppy flow and likely won’t produce your best work. Find the flow that works for you and plan it out that way.
  3. Notifications: while these are helpful in the grand scheme of things, they are NOT helpful when it comes time to actually work. Pause your inbox, turn off the notifications on your phone and desktop, and get to work. Your email actually doesn’t need to be open all day while you’re working, so feel free to check it first thing, mid-morning, and in the afternoon. Some may need to check more, and some less – this will vary by your job. But if you can, limit the time in your inbox and responding to every notification you get.
  4. Brain Dump: this has been, and likely will continue to be, one of our favourite things! As things come to mind that don’t directly relate to what we’re currently working on, it gets written down. Either in a notebook or in Asana if it’s a task to do later. Then it’s documented and you won’t forget about it, but writing it down and getting it out of your head clears the way to keep focused on the task-at-hand.
  5. Timer Tasks: for those tasks that just need to get done and are kind of annoying (yes, we don’t LOVE every single task we do!), set a timer. Then you are more likely to keep focused and just get it done and over with so that you can move on to the next. Bonus Tip: we love doing this with housework – set a timer for 20 minutes and see how much you can get done. 
  6. Space: keeping a clean, simple office space will also help defer distractions. Having #AllTheThings everywhere can lead to “Oh I need to tidy that!” or seeing all the books you should be reading, then the next thing you know you’ve ordered 5 more off Amazon! Tidy your desk at the end of each day and file anything away that needs it, so then when you come in the following morning you aren’t bombarded with clutter or piles of paper. Essentially: leave your office the way you want to see it in the morning. And no one wants to walk into a disaster zone.

 

At the end of the day, we all get distracted sometimes and that’s just a part of life. It’s certainly easier to get distracted when you’re at home, especially if the couch is sending you comfy vibes from across the room. Keeping focused, at least for batches of time, will help you be more efficient in less time – potentially leaving you with some spare time to reconnect with your couch. 

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