We all know that feeling. You sit down at your desk to start working on that important project, but before you know it an hour has passed and you’ve only managed to check Facebook twice. It’s easy to get distracted in today’s digital age, but with a little bit of discipline you can learn how to stay focused and get the most out of your time. In this interview, we spoke with different CEO’s and executives about how they manage distractions and stay productive. Glean some tips from them on how you can do the same.
The question we asked them was: How do you avoid distractions and stay focused on the task?
Title: Creative Director
Company: Envy Creative
“Identify and eliminate sources of distraction: Take a moment to identify the things that distract you most frequently. This could be notifications from your phone, a cluttered work environment, or even people around you. Once you know what distracts you, try to eliminate these distractions as much as possible. For example, you could turn off your phone notifications or find a quiet place to work.
Set goals and priorities: Clearly defined goals and priorities can help you stay focused and on track. Make a list of the tasks that you need to complete and rank them in order of importance. This can help you to stay focused on the most important tasks and not get sidetracked by less important tasks.
Use time blocking: Time blocking is a technique where you schedule specific blocks of time for specific tasks. For example, you might block out the first two hours of your day for deep work on a high-priority project, and then take a break before tackling your next task. This helps to keep you focused and ensures that you are making progress on your most important tasks.
Take breaks: It’s important to take breaks to recharge and refocus. When you are feeling burnt out or distracted, step away from your work for a short period of time. Go for a walk, listen to music, or do some stretching to help clear your mind.
Stay organized: A cluttered work environment can be a major source of distraction. Take some time to organize your workspace and create a system for managing your tasks and documents. This can help you to stay focused and on track.”
“One of the keys to staying productive is setting clear goals and priorities for each day. This helps me focus on the most important tasks and minimize distractions. I also try to create a clear separation between my work and personal life by setting boundaries around when and where I work.”
“I find that it’s helpful to schedule blocks of time for specific tasks and avoid multitasking as much as possible. This allows me to fully focus on one thing at a time and get more done in less time.”
“I try to eliminate as many distractions as possible by closing unnecessary tabs and apps on my computer, turning off notifications on my phone, and finding a quiet place to work. This helps me stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked.”
“It’s important to remember that productivity is a journey, not a destination. It’s okay to take breaks and recharge, as long as you’re still making progress towards your goals. Finding a balance between work and rest is key to maintaining long-term productivity.”
During the remote work era of the pandemic, I think we all ran into the issue of how to stay motivated and focused on our tasks.
If there’s one piece of advice I would give, it’s to get moving! I recommend adding daily walks into your routine.
Oftentimes, when I’m in a rut and can’t seem to focus on my work, it’s because I’ve been sitting for too long. I’ve found that a change of scenery can truly do wonders. Not only is the exercise good for you, but just getting up from your desk and away from your computer can refresh your mind and hit the reset button.
Distractions are a common and often inevitable part of life. Whether it’s the constant notifications on your phone, the temptations of social media, or the distractions of daily life, it can be challenging to stay focused on a task. However, there are several strategies you can use to avoid distractions and stay focused on the task at hand.
Set clear goals and priorities. Before you start a task, take some time to think about what you want to accomplish. Setting clear goals and priorities will help you stay focused on the task and avoid getting sidetracked.
Create a conducive work environment. Your physical environment can have a big impact on your ability to focus. Make sure your workspace is comfortable, well-lit, and free from clutter. Consider using white noise or music to help block out distractions.
Turn off notifications. Notifications from your phone or computer can be a major distraction. Consider turning off notifications or setting your phone to do not disturb mode while you work.
Use the Pomodoro Technique. This time management method involves working in short bursts, followed by short breaks. The Pomodoro Technique can help you stay focused and avoid burnout.
Take regular breaks. While it’s important to stay focused on the task, taking regular breaks can actually help you stay more focused in the long run. Step away from your work for a few minutes every hour or so to stretch, take a walk, or do something else to clear your mind.
Use a to-do list. A to-do list can help you stay organized and focused on the tasks that need to be completed. Make a list of all the tasks you need to complete and prioritize them based on importance. As you complete each task, cross it off the list to help you stay motivated and on track.
Minimize distractions. Take a look at your work environment and see if there are any distractions you can eliminate. This might mean closing unnecessary tabs on your computer, decluttering your desk, or finding a quiet place to work.
Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can make it difficult to concentrate and stay focused on the task at hand. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night to help you stay alert and focused.
Exercise regularly. Exercise has been shown to improve focus and concentration. Make time for regular exercise to help you stay focused and on track.
Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment and being aware of your thoughts and feelings. Practicing mindfulness can help you stay focused on the task and avoid getting sidetracked by distractions.
In conclusion, staying focused on a task can be challenging, but it’s an important skill to develop. By setting clear goals, creating a conducive work environment, turning off notifications, using the Pomodoro Technique, taking regular breaks, using a to-do list, minimizing distractions, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and practicing mindfulness, you can improve your ability to stay focused and avoid distractions.
Company: Networks Hardware
Face your demons. No matter how much I try, that one Facebook message or email will always be there to distract me. To make sure there is no one to get back to, I decided to give in to my urges. I check all my emails and messages right before I start working. I go through my news feeds and every single inbox there is before my work hour begins. Once I am done, I keep my mobile phones away from me knowing that there is nothing for me to get back to. This helps me keep my urge to a minimum.
If someone was supposed to get back to me, I will keep the notification window open in a separate display. Even if I feel like checking the notifications, it is just a quick look away. The moment you decide to pick up your phone to check notifications, it will be more than just a quick look.
Mindless browsing through social feeds is not as fun when you actually decide to assign time for it. This is why it’s important to take breaks and just give in to your itch for whatever distracts you.
Company: Lottery ‘n Go
As an entrepreneur, distractions are often unavoidable, especially during the startup stage of business when you’re more often the go-to for most concerns. But there is still a foolproof way to get focused on one task without feeling the need to check your phone or email. My secret has always been to allocate certain parts of the day to team communication and such. The rest of the day, I put my phone away so I can focus on whatever task is at hand. This is certainly doable if you set clear expectations with your team first. They need to know that you are only reachable at certain times except for absolute emergencies. This way, they are forced to rely on their judgment calls and initiative instead of reaching out to you for every minor problem.
- Break down major projects into small tasks
When I have a large project or task to complete, I break it down into smaller tasks that can be completed much easier. This allows me to focus on one thing at a time and finish it quickly.
- Utilize technology to block out distractions
I use applications and programs like Freedom and FocusMe to block out certain websites that tend to be distracting. This helps me stay focused on the task at hand, without fear of getting sidetracked.
- Learn to say ‘no’ more often
We all have projects that we don’t really want to do, but feel obligated to take on. Instead of taking on more than I can handle, I try to say ‘no’ more often. This allows me to prioritize the tasks that are important and stay productive.
As a Business owner, I understand the importance of staying focused and avoiding distractions to be productive and successful. Here are a few tips that have helped me stay on track:
Set clear goals and priorities. By knowing exactly what needs to be done, I can stay focused on the task and avoid getting sidetracked by other tasks or distractions.
Create a conducive work environment. I create a space free from distractions, such as noise or clutter. This helps me stay focused and avoid getting easily sidetracked.
Use technology to your advantage. Many tools and apps can help you stay focused, such as Pomodoro timers or productivity tracking software. These tools are especially helpful when working on tasks requiring a lot of focus and concentration.
Take breaks. Taking breaks and giving your mind a chance to rest and recharge is important. This helps prevent burnout and allows you to return to work with renewed energy and focus.
Practice mindfulness. Being present in the moment can help you stay focused and avoid getting distracted by thoughts about the past or future. I practice mindfulness through meditation or yoga, which helps me stay centered and focused on the task.
By following these tips, I have been able to stay focused and avoid distractions, which has helped me be more productive and successful in my work. These strategies can help you do the same.
Company: Andrew Pickett Law
My approach is to start with the basics: make sure you have a clear and specific task to focus on. If it’s a project, break it down into small manageable tasks that can be completed quickly. This gives you an immediate sense of accomplishment which helps to stay motivated.
Organize your workspace so that all distractions are removed from sight. This will make it easier to stay on task and limit potential interruptions.
Finally, create a timeline for yourself with small rewards along the way. This provides you with an incentive to stay focused, plus it allows for breaks in order to re-energize.
There are many ways to stay focused on a task and avoid distractions, but one of the most effective methods is to establish boundaries.
Set time limits for work, set specific goals for yourself, and don’t let yourself be pulled in by other activities that can take up your time.
Borders help you control what you allow into your world and how much of it affects your ability to successfully complete a task.
Establishing boundaries also helps us feel more in charge of our lives and reduces feelings of anxiety and stress which lead to distraction.
By establishing boundaries and controlling distractions, it is possible to stay focused on the task at hand and achieve success.
- Set specific goals for your task. Clearly define what you want to accomplish, and keep that goal in mind as you work.
- Remove distractions. This might involve closing unnecessary tabs or apps on your computer, turning off your phone, or finding a quiet place to work.
- Use a timer or a to-do list to break your work into smaller, manageable chunks. This can help you stay on track and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- Take breaks as needed. It’s important to take breaks to rest and recharge, but be sure to set a specific time to return to your work so you don’t get too sidetracked.
- Practice mindfulness. Paying attention to the present moment can help you stay focused and avoid getting distracted by your thoughts or external stimuli.
- Seek help if you’re struggling. If you’re finding it difficult to stay focused, it might be helpful to talk to a friend, mentor, or therapist about your challenges and come up with a plan to overcome them.
I think the best way to avoid distractions and stay focused on the task is to set yourself up for success.
One thing I do is keep my workspace clean and tidy. I don’t like having a lot of clutter around me when I’m working, so I try to keep things organized and neat. That way, if something else comes up while I’m working on something, my desk isn’t a mess and I can quickly find what I need without getting distracted.
Another thing that helps me stay focused on my work is having a few different projects going at once. When I have multiple things going on at once, it’s easier for me to divide my attention between them, instead of focusing too much on one thing at once — which can lead to getting overwhelmed easily. This helps me stay productive by keeping all of my different projects moving forward at the same time!
Title: Owner and CEO
Company: Best Financial Planners Australia
In my personal experience, the biggest obstacle to staying focused at work is not due to procrastination but a lack of planning and prioritizing what to do first. I’m not very active on social media so the procrastination quotient is more or less out of the equation. The main issue I truly used to face for the longest time was that I was allotted a lot of time to do all my tasks and chores, but ended up doing very little in the time because I couldn’t prioritize my work. My top solution since then has been to do one thing at a time. I pre-plan a blueprint for the day for all the tasks I must get done by EOD, and implement them one by one.
Title: Founder & CEO
Company: Mavens & Moguls
As an entrepreneur you are always on and with everyone working remotely and social media and technology going 24/7 it can be tough at times to stay energized and focused. For me I know when I feel my creative juices drying up or I am often tired or unmotivated it is time to shake things up. The key is to find ways to stay fresh and excited without being able to get away from your job. Like most small business owners and entrepreneurs there are never enough hours in the day to fit everything in so when something has to give it is usually time I have allocated for myself to exercise or just relax. A mentor once told me that to be successful “me time” is not a luxury or pampering, it is maintenance! Respecting my time on the calendar and taking myself as seriously as I take my most important clients is the least I can do for self care because if I am not at my peak performance I am not going to be useful to anyone else either so I have learned (and encourage my team) to focus by:
Giving yourself permission to say no. Whether it means sleeping in (no to an alarm clock), meditating, taking a walk, delegating more work or just turning off your phone and computer (no I will respond later on my own schedule), simple acts of letting yourself relax and enjoy the moment are the very best gifts you can give yourself. It is about touching people in meaningful ways which may mean being less busy not more.
Disconnecting from technology periodically and focus on cultivating human, face to face relationships (when not social distancing). Even meeting for virtual coffee or drinks can accomplish so much more than e-mail exchanges, social media posts, etc. I have found that building relationships is what drives my business and technology supports them once they are solidified. Technology helps advance the conversation but it will never replace the human interaction that builds trust over time.
For me committing goals to writing is critical and has helped me hit professional milestones and knock things off my to do list over the years. Out of sight out of mind. Goals can change or morph over time but I respond well to having clear goals I want to achieve with the time I have. Call me old fashioned but I am a big believer in lists and sticky notes. The simple act of writing things down makes them real to me. I love crossing things off my to do lists, it is a great sense of progress and accomplishment. I find it hard to ignore notes on the bathroom mirror or computer screen every day.
Find a system that works for you. Whether you prefer using your phone as a reminder or a tickler file, a coach or a buddy system, an online tool or pen and paper just create accountability that you will respond to effectively.
Creating SMART goals eliminates generalities/guesswork, sets a clear timeline, makes it easier to track progress and identify missed milestones. Commit them to writing and set time to review regularly, celebrate wins along the way and recognize smaller wins/milestones to keep you moving forward.
I am measuring productivity by what we get done, it is based on accomplishments not activity. People need more downtime now we are all under a lot of stress with so many moving parts. Our job is to get through this period together intact, that will make us all feel we have been productive.
Title: Content + SEO Specialist
Company: VTR Learning
Working online for over forty hours each week brings with it certain challenges, not least among them the temptation to surf the web. Sometimes, the work becomes so rote that distraction creeps in unwittingly, and when this happens, there are two primary strategies I like to employ to suppress the urge. First and foremost, whenever someone sits at a desk all day, lethargy is incredibly difficult to stave off — particularly mentally. And whenever that happens, it’s far easier to become distracted. So, one of the easiest ways is to take regular breaks throughout the day. That way, you know there’s a time coming when, at least for a few moments, you can allow yourself the time to look at Facebook. But more than that, if you stand up and walk a few hundred steps once every hour or two, it gets the blood flowing to your brain, which carries the oxygen necessary for focused thought. Additionally, the consciousness of distraction is key to beating it. So, staying alert and recognizing whenever a distraction is present is paramount to keeping attention off of it. If you remember something you need to look at, take a moment to write down a note that can remind you later. That way, it isn’t nagging at the back of your brain, vying for attention. Of course, there are plenty of other ways to keep from being as easily distracted during the workday, but these are two of my personal favorites.
Staying focused has never been more challenging with never ending pings from email, slack, and iMessage.
While it is still a daily challenge for me, I developed a framework that has helped me be strategic in taking meaningful action each day.
Rather than trying to “beat” distraction, I designed a system that allows me to focus on critical actions each day. As long as I prioritize those over distractions, I won the day.
Here it is.
Sunday Review/3 Key Weekly Tasks:
- On Sunday afternoon, I think through my upcoming week and identify the 3 most important tasks/objectives that I need to complete in the upcoming week. The 3 tasks should move the needle and be my “Critical” items.
- These tasks are listed in my iPhone “Notes” app for the upcoming week.
- Each night before going to bed, I review the 3 weekly tasks I need to complete and identify what 3–5 key actions (or Daily Wins) I need to take the next day to move towards accomplishing the weekly tasks. These “Daily Wins” can be as simple as making a phone call, paying a bill, or sending an email.
- These 3–5 Daily Wins are input into the iPhone “Notes” app for the next day. So now I have a list of my 3 critical weekly tasks AND the 3–5 mini actions I will take the next day to help achieve these goals.
- The next morning, I get to work executing on my 3–5 Daily Wins.
This is a simple system to be hyper focused and ensure the key actions get done while KNOWING I will still deal with distractions the next day like everyone else.
Company: Champion Leadership Group LLC
When you are working, it’s easily possible to become distracted. There are numerous distractions that can divert your attention away from your work. Before you realize it, the day has gone by, and you have accomplished nothing. With that in mind, I’ll share some tips on how to avoid distractions and stay focused on your task —
- Set up a routine.
Setting up and sticking to a schedule is one of the best ways to avoid distractions. It’s easier to focus once you know what task you will work on at a specific time. You will be more organized and less likely to lose focus if you have a plan in place.
- Technology can help you save time.
There are plenty of productivity tracking technologies to help you focus, just as there are to distract you. Understand more about the first and stay away from the second. You can focus on the work that only you can do by relying on tried-and-true products to help run your business.
Company: The Ink Agency LLC
Proactive vs. Reactive Mindset
There’s a concept I coach authors on, called “the writing cave” that can be applied outside of writing, to any task, project, or goal, requiring periods of concentration to complete. Think of a “cave” as the dedicated time, space, and mindset established to do focused work. A writing cave is scheduled on one’s calendar like anything other “must do” appointment. It includes any rituals to calm the mind and get focused — like going for a walk or meditating beforehand. A cave should be free of distractions including things like auditory ringers, and auditory or visual notifications, or alerts from any and all devices.
Let’s look closely at that last part.
Because all those technology distractions that for so many of us are a normal part of our day, act in complete conflict with your writing habit. I think of it in terms of “proactive versus reactive.”
Your brain is in reactive mode when you’re checking emails or scrolling through your social media feeds. But when it’s in proactive mode, it’s creating — like writing. It’s proactively creating something from nothing.
So, when you’re trying to simultaneously write your book while also keeping an eye on your email inbox, your phone, and social media notifications, you are confusing the HECK out of your brain by sending it two conflicting signals — proactive vs. reactive. Create something vs. react to other people’s ‘somethings.’
It’s like trying to put your car simultaneously in drive and reverse. What happens? Well first, probably really bad things safety wise. But mechanically, your car might end up essentially in neutral because it doesn’t know if you want to go forward or backward.
Yet so many in business try to accomplish high focus tasks like this, jumping back and forth between technology and their task, and wondering why the task never gets done (or gets done poorly). Then, they might beat themselves up for failing. They are not failing. The only thing that has “failed” is their habits. And fortunately, that’s a problem that can be solved.
Company: Human Resource
Staying focused and productive can and should be viewed as a separate and important task, given that you have to fight off distractions in order to be successful at it. Furthermore, the more focused you are on a task, the more efficiently the task is carried out. Therefore, to ensure that you are focused, you have to manage your time and energy properly.
To efficiently complete a task, I only keep my work tools within my reach so that I am not tempted to check messages or my social media. This does not mean a total shutdown from the world. However, I ensure that I only act in emergencies. I postpone other tasks that are more priority to the one at hand.
I also have time management apps to help me manage my time to this effect, helping me know how long I may need for similar tasks, thereby preparing me ahead of time for other tasks and helping me develop a steady work pattern.
Company: Wing It, LLC
Workplace distractions may not affect us for a short duration. But, in the longer time, it might affect us, our work, and our reputation. The timer method plays an evident role in increasing your time and efficiency at the workplace. Whenever you initiate your work, make sure to set a timer for yourself. It can be 10 mins, 30 mins or 1 hour. The mini pressure that you have from the time running out will help you to stay away from distractions. the worker should make sure to complete the work in that course of time and then jump to another. In this way, you will be able to plan your work, free time, and other important activities for the day.
Greven Carl Manuel
The key to avoiding distractions and staying focused is to create a distraction-free workspace. This means removing any physical or digital distractions from your environment, such as your phone, laptop, and other electronics. Additionally, you should make sure to have a clear goal in mind that you are working towards so that you can stay motivated throughout the task. Finally, take regular breaks throughout the day and use these breaks to refocus on your task by setting short-term goals and managing your time effectively. With these tools in place, you will be able to stay focused and avoid distractions while working towards achieving your goals.