Is it possible to avoid distractions and get down to serious work? Whether you are attempting to begin or finish a task, there is no doubt that opportunities for endless distraction abound in today’s media-driven environment.  In fact, tech toys have put temptation at our fingertips at every turn.

It’s a given that online distractions are now an integral part of our daily lives. The positive thing is that they can provide a much-needed break to reset one’s mindset and release the effects of stress. However, if you find yourself drifting aimlessly through a series of websites or getting teary over yet another pet video on Facebook, it’s likely that some intervention is required.

If you want to boost productivity, try the following to avoid distraction and stay focused:  

1. Define Your Intentions with an Old-Fashioned-To-Do-List. Create a daily list of the tasks you need to do and prioritize them. Many find that actually writing these down in hard copy, in a weekly day-timer, to be surprisingly effective. Next, identify the two most important tasks on the list and do everything you can to complete them. Physically cross them off your original list. Finishing those tasks will give you a sense of momentum and achievement – all the better for greater productivity tomorrow.

2. Identify Your Primary Temptations. Choose a day in your workweek and keep track of every activity, in 30-minute increments. Be relentless in identifying all activities, even the most trivial or ridiculous. You need to identify and avoid distractions that challenge you – and that you get pulled into repeatedly. Bring those time-sucking habits into the light! Then, consider how you end up drifting back to them: Is it boredom with a specific task, hunger in the middle of the day, frustration with a certain type of problem? Consider what you can do to really address the issues and integrate these actions into your daily to-do list. 

3. Work in Defined Time Blocks. Set specific times to work and schedule refreshing breaks that you look forward to. Try to work for 60 to 90 minute periods, take a 15-minute break and then get back to it. Take a short walk, get a coffee (which can help with focus), chat with a colleague – whatever it is that motivates you as a reward. Keep track of what worked for you and what didn’t. 

4. Stop Checking Your Phone and Close Your Browser. In order to avoid distractions, turn off all messages and social media alerts.

5. Wear Headphones. Putting on a noise-canceling headset can make your world a wonderfully quiet place and help you focus. Another option is trying research-based productivity apps that use specific music or sounds to boost focus.

Staying focused is a challenge we are all facing more than ever before. If you work some of these strategies into your day, you may be surprised at the immediate shift in your productivity.

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