Today we’re talking about personal productivity.
It doesn't matter whether you’re working from home, working from the office, or just working on a hobby or personal project—it’s important to be productive and feel like you are accomplishing something.
The problem is, there are a lot of demands on our time that can break down our ability to devote one hundred percent of our attention to the task at hand.
The main culprit? Our devices.
Let's talk about five ways to ditch digital distractions (so you can be productive and get more done!).
#1 Plan Screen Time Breaks into Your Day
With so much accessible to us at the touch of a button, our devices encourage us to multitask. The problem is, study after study has shown that multitasking is basically the worst way to try to get anything done.
Not only should you schedule blocks of time to work on single tasks in order to increase your chances of entering a flow state (the in-the-zone feeling you get when you and a task are vibing), but it is also a good idea to block off sections of time when you just leave your phone in a drawer.
Apps and services want you to keep scrolling. If you pick up your phone to “just look for a second,” you will probably end up looking at it for longer than you intended.
📵 Be sure to plan your screen time blackouts to match times when you need to be most productive or times when you won't need to use your phone
#2 Take Advantage of the Do Not Disturb Feature
Your phone—and tablet and laptop—all have Do Not Disturb features. Use them!
How many times does your phone notify you of something throughout the day? Even if you have it on vibrate, those little distractions can add up. Just like in planned phone blackouts, check your devices only periodically. Otherwise, leave them in Do Not Disturb mode.
Unless you need your phone ready to ring at any time, being able to address notifications and messages in dedicated blocks limits the amount of time you spend on your phone, frees up your productive time, and keeps your focus on the task at hand.
🔉 Remember, it isn't enough to just put your phone on vibrate. Your attention is valuable—don't give it up to every little digital distraction that comes your way!
#3 Put a Pom on It
Pomodoro timers have taken the productivity world by storm. Basically, the pomodoro technique is a structured way to organize your day that breaks every hour down into productive chunks.
Try setting a timer for 50 minutes. Spend the 50 minutes working on the task at hand, then use five to ten minutes to go to the bathroom, check your phone, etc. Start the timer for another 50 minutes and put the process on repeat. Once you get into a rhythm, the pomodoro technique can be really effective.
The most important part is to make sure that you’re setting your “poms” to match your level of focus. Not sure you can work on a task for 50 minutes straight? Set the timer for 25 minutes, then spend five on your phone before putting in another 25 minutes of dedicated work.
🍅 The pomodoro technique really works, but it’s only effective if you commit to focusing when you’re supposed to and relaxing when you’re supposed to.
Letting the free time of every hour creep into the 50 minutes of dedicated work will eat away at your productivity.
#4 Try a Deep Focus Playlist
Sometimes working in silence just isn’t the answer. The problem is that music with lyrics or music you haven’t heard before can be distracting. If that’s the case, pull up your favorite music streaming service and search for “deep focus” music.
Deep focus is a genre of music that skips lyrics in favor of instrumentation that dissolves into the background but keeps stimulating your senses, to help you get the most out of your time working, studying, or just relaxing.
Deep focus music is commonly electronic-sounding. If that isn’t something you like, try classical music, soft piano, or even white noise like looped rain, ocean waves, or soft chimes. Experiment with different artists, playlists, and sounds to find the combination that works best for you.
🎵 Try using a deep focus playlist to build a “bubble” around yourself and increase your focus on the task at hand.
Avoid music that adds distraction, and experiment with different musical styles to find the perfect fit!
#5 Tell Other People When You Are Going Distraction-Free
One of the best ways to head off a barrage of messages and the notifications that come with them is to communicate to friends, family, colleagues, and coworkers that you are entering a distraction-free zone. Not only does this help them work around your dedicated focus time, but it also helps them understand when they can expect a response from you.
Don’t use this as an excuse to duck important calls, however. Set clear expectations using autoresponders or “away” messages to let people know why they won’t be able to reach you and when they can expect to see you back online. It’s also important to let them know how to reach you with urgent messages or in the event of an emergency.
Pairing this strategy with one that schedules blocks of time when you will be unreachable with a quick chat message or email means that the people who need to communicate with you on a regular basis can build these “blackout periods” into their expectations of when you’ll be available.
💬 Don’t just organize time for yourself to go distraction-free. Encourage others to do the same!
As you and your colleagues start to experience the benefits of finding distraction-free time, you will find that the time when you do communicate via devices will be more productive and fruitful as well!
The Bottom Line
While the devices in our lives are truly amazing, they can be a huge drain on our productivity. By being proactive and intentionally structuring our time to ditch those digital distractions, we can elevate our focus and enhance our productivity.
What do you think?
Is there a hot productivity tip you think we missed? Are you a pomodoro timer addict? Drop your feedback in the comments below.
Benjamin Sweeney is the Senior Business Writer for ClydeBank Media who specializes in the wide and wonderful world of business and process optimization. He has an appetite for waste reduction and an eye for efficiency. He has authored two titles on the subject of Lean manufacturing, both available from ClydeBank Media.