My computer battery is at 11% and I’m not near an outlet. I need to sit down and focus. I’m going to use a method to strengthen my attention span on a single task and be more productive in this moment. If you take advantage of the technique below you’ll see immediate returns to your productivity and sense of accomplishment!
It seems obvious that the most difficult part of focusing is distractions. However, I would argue the issue more specifically is the anxiety we feel when a distraction pops up and we don’t take care of it right away. For example, if I don’t text my mom right now I will forget to do it later. I should just stop writing, text her, and get back to it, right? I’ll feel so much better. But she’ll inevitably respond right away and I’ll open up my phone to see what she said. After I respond and since I’m on my phone, I might as well check the scores to some college football games, right? And do the Rangers play today? Let me check their schedule. Oh good, my mom responded, what’s she up to? All of a sudden I’m not really getting much done on this blog post, am I? And oh no, only 7% battery!
How do we cure the disease of distraction? Well, what I’ve found works best isn’t to force myself to block out all the distractions. That’s frankly impossible and leads to the anxiety we talked about. Speaking of anxiety, it just occurred to me that I need to write more thank you notes to wedding guests. I know I’ll start feeling anxious that they’re not done and that anxiety would permeate into my writing until ultimately I’ll decide it’s not worth writing while distracted. I’ll instead leave this coffee shop and go home to write the thank you notes. I’ll get home and inevitably be overcome with distraction there, feel anxious about not doing something else – ugh I’m out of underwear, I’ll just throw a load in the wash quickly - and continue to bounce between tasks without finishing anything. We’re starting to see that the distraction isn’t the problem but instead it’s the anxiety it causes! Don’t fight the distraction, but cure the anxiety the distraction causes. How? Let’s use The Indistractible Notebook!
As I type on my laptop I have The Indistractible Notebook open in front of me. I’ve identified a task I want to get done – Write BeIndistractible Blog – and how long I’ll work at it – 30 minutes in this case. If you’ve been paying close attention you know what else I wrote down: Text Mom, Check Scores, When do Rangers play?, Thank you notes, Laundry. I immediately start to feel my anxiety drop as I know all the other tasks I need to get to are written down and I’ll get to them later.
The great part about using The Indistractible Notebook is it trains your mind to focus. I find after jotting a few things down my anxiety goes away and my mind is free of distractions. And, if one happens to get back in there I’m able to recognize it as a distraction, write it down, and get to it later.