Turn Down the Distractions and Turn Up the Mental Bandwidth

Believe us, we totally get it. Sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to focus, and there isn’t anything that can be done about it. Some distractions are actually part of the job, even if they’re not what you want to focus on right at that moment.

Lots of distractions can become stressful though. If you’re desperate to get a task completed and can’t it’s frustrating. The inability to settle into an activity can mean all senses stay on high alert, programming the brain into that vigilant state so it becomes harder to wind down.

There are some ways to streamline the day-to-day stuff. They can help identify and adhere to the priorities, and maybe even find you a little breathing space. So get those shoulders from around those ears, and trust us. We like solving problems, so life can be as simple as possible.

Use your autoresponder and email filter

If your messaging inbox sees more traffic than motorway services, investigate the auto-response and filter functions available.

 

Autoreply

 

Most email providers, and a hefty number of messaging apps, have an autoreply function. It means that you can set up your inbox to send a response automatically, so senders know you have received their message. This is a great way to slow down anyone intent on an immediate follow-up to something non-urgent.

 

Message filtering and notifications

 

In a similar vein, most inbox handlers allow you to filter your messages. It can sort out messages depending on subject lines, senders, and beyond. It’s a nice way to funnel the non-urgent stuff somewhere that it can be looked at later, without being distracted by it there and then.

The notification settings on most messaging centres can be programmed in the same way. If you want to ignore messages from anyone not involved in your current focus, you can. Oh sweet serenity.

Keep an eye on where you’re spending your time

A quick glance at the news. A brisk check of social media. And before you know it, you’ve lost nearly an hour of your morning. Five minutes here and there might not feel like it’s pulling your focus; do that throughout the day and it stacks up.

Apps like Escape and Rescue Time track how much time you’re spending with emails, websites, and social media every day. It’s a handy way to understand where the time is really going. (It doesn’t mean you have to change if you don’t want to. We love you just the way you are.)

White noise for background blur

Getting into the concentration bubble can be a bit difficult if there’s stuff going on in the background. Playing music or listening to podcasts can help if you work in the type of environment where that is an option, but sometimes it’s just another thing for the brain to process.

If you need something to block out the background without becoming a distraction in its own right, playing some ambient sounds might help. YouTube has lots of study-type tracks which range from white static noise, beach sounds, and rivers flowing. Ambient sound websites, like A Soft Murmur, allow you to mix different elements of background noise to get exactly what you need.

Take a couple of minutes. Breathe. It might sound strange, but taking a proper break can actually give you more time. It hits the reset button, improves focus, and hopefully gives your brain a bit more space to work on the things it needs to.