Getting Out Of The Distraction Zone and Into The Zone Zone
When we have a bunch of things to do we can get overwhelmed by the volume and variety of tasks. It feels like we’re being pulled in ten different directions at once.
It’s tempting to flit from thing to thing, to give ourselves the illusion of accomplishing something with each one of our tasks.
That’s a terrible way of accomplishing anything, almost as bad as its opposite, focusing intently on avoiding the whole mess of them altogether.
Here are three tips to help you focus and get on with the task turning a mess of to-dos into an ordered set of accomplishments.
Your brain can only focus on one thing at a time
No matter how disciplined you think you might be, or how well organized, you cannot multitask. Multitasking is a figment of our collective imagination. Your brain can only attend to one thing a time. It’s able to switch tracks quickly to give the illusion of multitasking, but you’re always riding a single track. All that switching is mentally exhausting and takes away from the momentum of riding a single track.
No matter how many things you need to accomplish in a day, work on them with complete dedication, one at a time. You’ll get through each thing even faster, and be even more dedicated to it if you can get rid of all distractions, not even giving your mind a chance to divert to something else. That means turning off notifications for Facebook, Twitter etc. Turning off the phone if you can.
Group like with like
You have a lot of different things to do, but some of those things are more alike than others. For example maybe part of your job involves making phone calls and another part involves sending emails and another part involves research. You should either group all your phone calls together or group everything that relates to a particular aspect of the project together so your brain can get into the flow of that task or that project and stay there through the different tasks that relate to it.
Set a timer
Oftentimes the hardest part of any task is getting started. A timer is a great way to make getting started more palatable. There are a couple of ways of doing this. You can set the timer for a ridiculously short period like five minutes. No matter how much you don’t want to do something, you can certainly give it five minutes. You’ll be surprised how often those initial five minutes take you into thirty. The other way to use the timer is to set it for 30 or 40 minutes. By giving yourself an end time you can concentrate all your attention on what you’re doing and likely as not you’ll lose track of the time while you’re doing it!
Don’t forget to break. Between each thing don’t forget to give yourself some breathing room. Get up from your chair. Go for a short talk, stretch a bit, have a snack. Your brain needs a break as much as your body. By giving yourself ample breaks, each time you get back into the zone you’ll be able to stay there!