Are Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Linkedin, Instagram and Twitter screen-sucking your time away from important tasks and goals?
Now more than ever human nature is being wired for distraction making it increasingly difficult to maintain focus on a task for more than just a few minutes.
In our mushrooming digital world, technology is hijacking our most precious asset – our time. Most of us are bombarded with various beeps, chirps and push notifications from our technological devices “demanding” our immediate attention. Pop-ups and sponsored advertisements appear constantly in news feeds and on websites. Social media companies are driving our addiction to stay online all the time.
Additionally, the open office environment invites random interruptions from colleagues. It is becoming increasingly impossible to get work done and maintain focus, a skill so critical to achieving success.
Science has proven that multitasking is a complete myth and is highly inefficient. Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT and one of the world experts on divided attention, says that our brains are “not wired to multitask well… When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.”
Toggling back and forth between one task to the next actually slows down your learning, increases errors, and disrupts your short-term memory.
To maximize your precious time on this planet so you can live your best life, I have compiled some ways to up your focus.
5 New Habit Nuggets:
1. Go linear: Strive to give each task your full attention.
This sounds simple but it takes tremendous discipline to focus on one task at a time. If your goal is to achieve optimal performance and reduce stress in your life, then you need to avoid any attempt to multitask.
Commit to the principle of doing one task at a time before you start the next one.
2. Focus on what is both urgent and important.
If your to-do list feels insurmountable and your commitments are consuming all the free time on your calendar, you need to pause and determine what is both urgent and important in your life right now.
Many many items might be urgent, but they may not necessarily support your long-term life goals, values, or priorities. Urgent projects generate a reactive response and may often be more fun or a quick check-mark off your to-do list, but they are not necessarily what is best for you in the long run.
Tasks that are both important and urgent may require an extra boost of grit and determination. Sometimes it is because they are mundane yet critical to your goals or they may require you to step out of your comfort zone and push through your fears.
Make a list of all the tasks on your plate and determine which ones are important and urgent. And then dive into those priorities which will really make a difference in your life and move you forward in achieving your goals.
3. Build a fortress around your time
We all have 24 hours in a day, but some of us accomplish significantly more than others.
How is that possible?
The way to get more done is to guard your most precious commodity: your time. Put yourself as priority #1 and block off that time on your calendar.
Many productive and successful people do their urgent and important tasks first thing in the morning. Answering emails or messages are reserved for a specific time of day. Notifications on devices are turned off. If you don’t guard your time, you can be sure others will steal it from you.
4. Find “flow” in your day.
Your emotional frenzy may be robbing you of important productivity. As you go through your day notice your emotional state in conjunction with your tasks.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term “flow” to identify a state of mind in which you are completely absorbed in an activity and time seems to fly by.
To create a flow state, the activity must have a goal in which the tasks are clearly defined and those tasks require higher than average skills and present higher than an average challenge. With this mix of elements, you will be much more engaged and focused in the present moment and achieve a flow state.
5. Unplug and take scheduled brain breaks
Our brains have a capacity to operate in 90-minute cycles which mirrors our sleep cycle. If 90 minutes feels too long, attempt 50 – 60 minutes of dedicated focus time and then give your brain some downtime.
This brain break could be in the form of moving for 5 – 7 minutes or daydreaming or something that will refresh your brain.
If your brain knows it will be rewarded after a period of focused activity, then you are more likely to sustain the habit of prolonged focus attention on a specific task.