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  • Laila Datoo

Top productivity hacks to stay focused and manage distractions

What's the first thing you do when you sit down at your desk about to start work?

Look at your to-do list?

Check your emails?

Scroll social media while you decide what to do first?

Sit down and then get up to make a quick cup of tea?

That may feel like 'easing into the day' but these actions could be seriously distracting and accumulated over the day, can cost you hours of time, buckets of leaky energy and that all translates to lost money - directly or indirectly.

Whether you're working from home or back in the office, like Christmas, distractions are all around us.

Learn some top productivity hacks to beat procrastination and reduce distractions

You know that wonderful feeling called “flow state”? When you’re cruising along, ideas are flowing like warm chocolate, you’re in your power zone, killing your to-do list, feeling like a genius?

A 2015 study from UC Irvine shows that every single time you get interrupted, you get knocked out of your flow state. And then, after each disruption, it takes you approximately 23-30 minutes to fully re-enter your flow.

In other words, that “tiny little 3 second distraction” (a quick email check, a social media notification, an Amazon delivery knock at the door...) is actually a 30 minute setback.

Do you have 30 minutes to waste, numerous times a day? You most certainly do not!

How can you get more focused regardless of your environment and turn distractions into intentional welcome pauses?

When you change your habits, you can focus and find your flow state

Productivity hack no. 1

Start your day with a productive mindset

If you're in the office can you create a ritual to start the day like listening to a podcast or music on your commute.

Working from home can look like creating a ritual to start your day like making a coffee, putting a certain playlist on or even lighting a candle.

You can also turn your "commute time" into a positive activity to start the day like exercise, reading, meditation so you don't go from your bed straight to your desk.

Productivity hack no. 2

Create the optimum environment to be efficient and reduce distractions

This is often the hardest one for people who struggle being back in the office. Home can feel isolating and disconnected, while the office can be noisy and overwhelming.

Take some time to work out what the optimum environment is for you to get your work done.

It could be any of the following:

- Listening to music when doing certain think heavy tasks.

- Creating certain scents, lighting, views (tidy desk) to make you feel energised

- Having access to a collaborative environment

Then work out how you can achieve this no matter the environment.

For example if you work well with collaboration, set your office days for when colleagues are in so you can catch up.

If you work from home create an online collaboration space where you can co work and co create.

Productivity hack no. 3

Set a timer and focus your tasks within a specific time

Organise your tasks into time blocks - if you have a big task to do chunk it down into smaller tasks.

Decide how long your work sprints are and then set a timer- 25 mins work and 5 min break can work well.

Decide what task comes first BEFORE you sit down. If you can, write your task list the night before so that when you sit down, you are clear what you're doing.

Productivity hack no. 4

Turn potential distractions into rewards for a task completed

Instead of sitting down at your desk, procrastinating about where to start and then getting up to make a coffee / check the post / insert another distraction here, use those activities as a reward after your work sprint.

When you focus on what you need to do and you know you have a reward coming, it can help you knuckle down to get the task done.

Every few hours schedule in a longer break - for lunch, exercise, a walk or an activity that can decompress your mind.

Put into place even one of the productivity hacks and notice how your distracted moments reduce and your focused time increases.

As with everything it’s about trial and error so try something out and see how it works for you.

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