Living in the information age comes with a host of advantages, but it certainly has its drawbacks as well. Technology addiction is real, affecting people with few other addictive tendencies. Not all of today’s greatest distractions are tech-related, but working on eliminating technological distractions is a great start to leading a more focused life. Here are tips for keeping technological and other distractions from getting in the way of your productivity and well-being.
Clear your desk
Anything in sight can potentially claim some of your attention. Remove physical clutter from your life, and you should find it easier to focus. Clear your desk, other tables, counters, and walls of anything that doesn’t serve a clear purpose. Anything that remains should be organized. Do this at the office and in your apartment.
Clean your desktop
Like physical clutter, digital clutter can distract us from doing things we should have done yesterday. Keep digital clutter at bay by removing unnecessary icons from your computer and smartphone backgrounds. Don’t download new apps on your smartphone without deleting apps you no longer use. Close computer programs and browser tabs as soon as you finish using them. Don’t let technological distractions get the best of your time.
Learn how distractions work in your life
There are different types of distractions, but the ones we have the most control over are habit-based. What distracts you most easily or often? Is it television, social media, online news, something else? Identify the triggers that set off this distraction, and either cut them out of or limit their presence in your life. Making lists of the pros and cons of being disrupted by a specific distraction can serve as a great motivator for avoiding or eliminating that distraction.
Turn off notifications
Push notifications are dreadfully distracting. Thankfully, for most apps, there’s no reason to have them turned on. If you’re easily distracted by your phone, turn off push notification and alerts for as many apps and messaging services as your home and work lives permit.
Take time to unplug
Completely unplugging from technology for stretches of several hours, or even days or weeks, can be refreshing. It is vital to your well-being and can be beneficial to your relationships. It also gives you freedom from the distractions you’re most exposed to. Try disconnecting for a few hours after work each day, spending the time time with loved ones or engaged in a favorite hobby. When you are “online,” be mindful of how you use your time. Take note of and try to avoid digital triggers that draw your attention away from tasks at hand.
Understand that less can be more
“Less is more” may be cliche at this point, but there is something to the adage. When you spread yourself too thin, no one benefits. Don’t sacrifice your health, your relationships, or your job to stay on top of things that aren’t even important to you. Prioritize the things you absolutely must do and the things you are most passionate about.
Write down your goals
Another strategy for denying distractions the attention they seek is to keep your eyes on the prize, whatever that may be for you. Write down your personal and professional goals for the near-term and distant future. If you’re going to accomplish them, you’ll have to keep a check on the distractions in your life. Some of your shorter-term goals may even address these distractions directly.
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