Ever start to do something and—Whoa, check out those shoes! Sorry, I got distracted. Where was I? Oh yeah, do you ever start to do something and get distracted? Well, you’re not—No I haven’t heard the new Arcade Fire album. Is it good? Sorry about that. As I was saying, you’re not alone.
Fancy scientific studies say that the average person is distracted every three minutes. While there might not be a 12-step program for overcoming distractions, there are some ways to avoid them, such as multitasking less, turning off your ringer, and just ignoring the Internet for a while.
Kevin Eikenberry provides these tips for overcoming distraction addiction:
- Stop multitasking. You can’t do it anyway. What we actually do is rapidly switch from one task to the next, and with each switch our productivity drops.
- Schedule email. Schedule time for email, and put those times in your calendar. Then process email. Then, and only then.
- Turn down the ringers, alerts, and notifications. Turn off the email alert, silence all the notifications on your phone, and you will immediately reduce the possibility of distraction.
- Make meetings no-phone and no-email zones. If we all stay focused on the topic, we will finish sooner, and you will have time to do your email in a batch.
- Shut off the Internet. Operate your PC or tablet without the Internet on, or put your phone in airplane mode (or turn it off). You aren’t the President of the United States—unless the building is on fire, you can seclude yourself from the distractions for a period of time.
- Pick up the phone. If you haven’t noticed, email isn’t very good at conversation. Pick up the phone and solve the problem, clarify the issue, or make a decision. It will eliminate some portion of your emails and therefore reduce the number of distractions overall.
- Work in 60–90 minute intervals. This works best for us from a physiological and psychological perspective, so listen to your body and your brain. Take a quick walk. Stand up. Drink a glass of water, or even check your email, and then get back to the distraction-free zone of your work.