Mind Your Time

No matter what your political leaning, I’m sure you’ll agree that this week’s U.S. presidential election has been a gigantic distraction. I wonder how much productivity has tanked as a result of election watch.

As this disruption is likely to continue for the time being, it’s a good time to review tips to stay focused during times of major distraction.

+ Manage your technology. Whether it’s your computer, phone or smart watch, these devices amplify distractions. Something as simple as turning off the sound while you focus on “real work” will increase your productivity.

+ Chunk your time. The Pomodoro Technique is one popular tool that helps you focus. The idea is to chunk your time into short segments of work followed by brief breaks. The most common example is to work uninterrupted for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break. It seems deceptively simple, but it works!

+ Do your most important work first. Set aside the first part of your day and complete your essential work then. This is especially effective when you are especially distracted and procrastinating more than usual.

+ Manage your environment. If you’re working from home and have additional distractions, you need to speak the language of your “audience”. Kids don’t understand the importance of your deadlines, but they will understand if you give them some attention periodically throughout the day. Maybe you can include a family-focused pomodoro session every few hours.

If you must succumb to distractions, allow yourself a periodic distraction break – no more than 10 minutes at a time – to get it out of your system. Realistically, the more focused you are on your work, though, the less you will need to give in to distractions.

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