Distractions – what have you achieved in the last hour?

distractions, focus, attentionFocus… focus… focus…

Distractions. Something we all struggle with from time to time. But if concentrating is an ongoing problem of yours, seeking help from a mental health professional could be a great step. But before you do that, you may first want to revisit your daily habits and check if some of them could be causing the problem.

Your social media account.

Answering those chats, liking someone’s posts, and updating your status on Facebook, all distractions, and can be affecting your ability to focus.

Social media is a common distraction nowadays. Reports show that people aged 18 to 29 spend an average of 50 minutes on Facebook every day! Yes, that’s a lot of time (which could have been allocated to more productive things).

Not only does it take off your precious hours, going on social media sites also hinders your train of thoughts, forcing you to backtrack when you resume work. Try setting yourself a schedule for social media, instead of peeking on it from time to time.

For instance, you may allocate half an hour at lunchtime or during work-breaks, and maybe an hour or two over the weekend for Facebook.

Multitasking.

You may think that multitasking is making you more productive but actually, it is hindering your brain to focus, which often leads to poor performance and output.

Research suggests that we actually lose time when we try to shift from one task to another simultaneously, and that finishing a task before jumping to another can actually save us more time. Whenever possible, devote your time, effort and attention on one project at a time.

On a personal note, I have found that if I consciously concentrate on just one task, my subconscious mind will think about the next task and will contemporaneously allow me to multi-task without even being aware of it.

It’s easiest to Multi-task on tasks that don’t require too much focus and energy. For instance, it wouldn’t hurt if tidy up your desk whilst talking to someone over the phone.

Your inbox.

Are you bombarded with tons of emails every day – massive distractions? Whilst most of your emails may be work-related, some are not. Moreover, even if they are work-related, these emails may not need an urgent response.

So when working on something, log out from your inbox and get back when you are ready to read and answer emails. Because like social media, switching from one task to another also affect your ability to focus.

Your mobile phone.

We all have the urge to answer a call when it rings. But talking over the phone doesn’t only cost time and money, it also cuts off your momentum on the task at hand. It can be helpful to put your caller ID to good use.

If you think it isn’t urgent, let it go to your voicemail. Listening to these messages at once at a later time can be time- and energy-saving than taking each call as they come.

Worries.

It is hard to focus on the work in front of you when your mind is bombarded with all your worries – the bills to pay, the looming deadline, the house chores left etc. Nagging thoughts can be a very powerful distraction so it is important that you know how to effectively deal with them.

And one good strategy is to jot them on a sheet of paper. Write down your to-do list, vent your frustrations on your journal, and let your thoughts flow from your mind through your pen and on to that paper.

Stress.

It is hard to focus on tasks when you are stressed. Not only does it impede your mental performance, it also puts a huge toll on your body, from pains and aches to unexplained fatigue, flu and cold, and other forms of discomfort.

Learning stress reduction techniques, such as yoga and guided meditation or hypnosis, can save you from a lot of stress. Also, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep can greatly lower down your stress levels.

I hope this helps you to recognise those distractions and get yourself back on track to a more focused, productive day.

Richard Scott
Clinical Hypnotherapist

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