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Avoiding distractions to stay on task

Staying on task is hard. Really, it is.

There are countless distractions whether you are at work or at home. There are ringing phones, text messages, social media, news, co-workers or kids. It can feel like you never get any uninterrupted time. (I felt that way today as I wrote this blog. Numerous times the kids came in to chat.)

Often to feel like I am getting stuff crossed off my to do list (whether it be writing, PTA or home tasks), I try working on several things at once (usually 10 minutes of this, 10 minutes of that). And while it might feel like you are being productive since you are multi-tasking, it often is a false sense of accomplishment. You are busy with multiple tasks, but you are not completing any of them. (So true.)

Here are some tips to help you avoid distractions and stay on task:

Listen to Music – This can help isolate you from surrounding interruptions while also getting your brain moving and thoughts flowing. Isolate yourself – If people (say my kids for example) keep interrupting you, then avoid them. Go somewhere with less interruptions – the conference room at work or the home office or bedroom if you are working at home. (At home, a sign on the door might slow some of those interruptions.) Heck, you can even go elsewhere to work. Go to a café or the library to work. Remove distractions – That’s right. Put away the phone or at least turn off the ringer and notifications. (People will survive if they can’t reach you for a bit.) Close your email. It will be there later when you have time to check it. Disconnect the internet if that will keep you from getting distracted by Facebook, YouTube or news sites. You are always just one click away from wasting 30 minutes on the internet. Let others know you are busy – Schedule some time on your calendar so that others don’t or can’t schedule something with you. Let kids or coworkers know you will be busy and are not to be interrupted. Stay with one task – Be disciplined enough not to start another task until the one at hand is done. If another task enters your mind, don’t jump to do it. Write it down on your to-do list. Sticking with one task takes practice and discipline.

These tips are designed to help you stay on task. Whether you can execute them and do that remains to be seen. I know for myself that I am often distracted by the kids or YouTube videos or trying to do several things in one stretch of time. I know that at the end of the day I often feel like not enough was done. I do find that setting a timer sometimes help me stay with that one task for a set amount of time. Now whether I finish it in that time depends on the task. Hopefully, you will have the willpower to implement these things and become more productive.

As for me…well, I am working on it. (She says as types while chatting with her daughter and watching a movie on TV.)

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