“Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.” Jim Rohn
1. Shut off notifications. To find focus the first simple thing to do is to shut off notifications in:
- Your email client.
- Messaging programs.
- Social media and gaming apps.
Then get back to what truly matters without those pings hanging over you and distracting you.
2. Keep your smart phone far away for quality time/work. The simplest way to not be distracted all the time by your smartphone is to put up small obstacles so you don’t have that easy and tempting access. Here’s, for instance, what I do when I work:
- I put the phone in silent mode.
- I put it in another room at the other end of our home.
- Then I check it a few times a day for calls and text messages.
We often do the same thing during the evenings and weekends to make sure that the time we spend together is quality time and not time spent being distracted.
6. Stop comparing your life to someone’s high-light reel. When you start comparing yourself and your life to what old classmates, friends and celebrities share on Instagram or Facebook and you each day see how perfect and wonderful their homes, kids, work and lives are then that can create a lot of stress and erode your self-esteem. So what can you do if you get stuck in this habit?
- Remember that what they share is usually just the high-light reel of their lives, the most positive moments. The other stuff that is a part of life happens too, you just don’t see it.
- Focus on comparing yourself to yourself instead. See how far you have come, what you have learned and what you have overcome.
7. Disconnect over the weekend. Stay away from work and offline over the weekend. Leave your work phone at your job. If that’s not possible keep things to a minimum:
- Leave that work phone in silent mode and check it just every 24 hours over the weekend.
- Do a quick 2 min check of email once a weekend (that’s what I do).
- Reply only to the calls, texts and emails that are very important. Otherwise, let them wait until Monday.
8. Keep a very simple workspace. The computer may have access to almost unlimited information and many, many tasks and emails. To not get dragged into the possible stress of that zoom out to the next level. To your work space that the computer is sitting in. Make it a simple and calming work space to make your mind more centered too and less susceptible to overwhelm, confusion and stress. Mine is for example just a black desk, my laptop, a few flowers, a glass of water and piece of paper where I write down my next task.
9. Focus your information inflow. Ask yourself:
- What email newsletters in my inbox have I actually read and gotten something good out of in the past 30 days?
- What podcasts I have listened to that have given me value in the past month?
You can ask yourself the same for magazines, blogs and forums and so on. Then take 5-15 minutes to unsubscribe to the ones that just clutter up your inbox, smart phone, bookmark list and shelves. Time is limited. So is your attention. So use both of them in a way that enriches your life and that focuses on only the best information sources. This very simple exercise can be surprisingly effective to get rid of mental clutter too and think more clearly again.