Computer and phone

2017. The digital age where we constantly strive to do things faster, quicker and sooner.

Technology is supposed to be our friend when it comes to finding ways to minimise input and maximise output. So why do we constantly feel so bombarded by email notifications, text messages, app alerts, and feel as though there simply isn’t enough hours in the day to get through our ‘to do’ list?

It’s not that we have more to do, we simply have more to be distracted by. When I say ‘more’ I’m referring to the little pieces of technology we all carry with us wherever we go. Our mobile phone, iPad, laptop.

The answer is simple – turn technology off.

Sounds obvious, right? How many times do you say to yourself ‘I’m going to focus and not look at my phone; surf the net; check my emails; look at Facebook,’ and then before you know it… ping! An alert pops up of a picture you’ve been tagged in and before you know it you’ve wasted 20 minutes looking at your friend’s, cousin’s, sister’s, dog’s Instagram page.

We’ve all been there.

Whilst ‘turn it off’ sounds all well and good, it isn’t that simple. In an age where we have been conditioned to respond instantly to messages and alerts, it seems counter intuitive to think that by ignoring them we can be more efficient and get more work done.

Blocking distractions is better than saying you just need discipline. Why stand outside a cake shop all day when you’re on a diet? Sure, you can say use ‘discipline’ to not stuff your face but why not make it easier for yourself by staying as far away from the cake shop as possible? The same principles apply with technology. You need to distance yourself from it and put some measures in place to give you the best chance of success and reduce distractions.

Laptop coffee notebook

Here are 3 things you can do to ease yourself in gently and effectively…

1) Turn off all social media and email notifications.

We have all done it. The phone pings and no sooner than that alert has flashed up on your screen you have picked up the phone to respond or at the very least see what’s there.

Email alerts don’t cost you a lot of time, but they cost you a lot in attention. Every time you receive one, the alert hijacks your attention away from the task you’re working on.

I’m not suggesting you ignore them completely. Set aside blocks of time during the day to go through your alerts and this will result in an increased focus and boost your productivity.

2) Put your phone in another room or at least 20 seconds out of reach.

You may think it’s easy to have your phone on the desk and not check it but that’s easier said than done. By having it within arm’s reach you are almost making it impossible to ignore.

By keeping distractions more than 20 seconds away, you have a reasonable amount of time-based distance from the object therefore lessening its chance of being a distraction. If you physically have to move to get your phone you’re a lot less likely to do so.

3) Completely disconnect from the internet.

The Internet can be a huge attention sap. Almost 50% of your time online is spent procrastinating. If you have a deadline to meet unplug from the Internet and don’t reconnect until you finish the task you are working on.

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