Smart phones, social media, email. Distractions are everywhere, and they're often wrapped up in the very things purported to make us more productive.
Here are some simple techniques to navigate distractions - whilst still living in the 21st century.
1. Set a goal. A small one.
Yes, you read that correctly. If you want to make a big change, starting small is more likely to lead to success. (Compare eating smaller portions over time to trying a crash diet on January 1st. Which is more likely to succeed?)
Keeping an eye on the big picture, ask yourself, "What actionable step can I take today to help get me there?"
Better yet, make a list every day and update it often. For any received email that will take more than a minute to resolve, incorporate its ask into your to-do list. Your email isn't your to-do list; take back control.
2. Switch off. (And then back on.)
It can feel counterintuitive, but to be a more-productive person when you're plugged in, you have to switch off - literally, or just figuratively if you're a disciplined soul.
It's well documented that taking regular breaks, ideally without screentime, makes you more effective on your return. So get a coffee, take a walk, look out a window - it's science. You'll feel recharged and have more value to contribute when you're back online.
Bonus tip: switch off your phone (or vow not to look at it) 15, 30, or even 60 minutes before bedtime. You'll regain a little bit of headspace and you'll sleep better. And that can't be bad for productivity tomorrow.
3. Say No.
Put simply, work is a series of obligations - which can make us reflexively say yes to every calendar invite that comes our way. For each meeting invitation ask yourself, "Do I need to go to this?"
The answer's often yes. But if it's not, take your time back. If you're unsure, ask the person who invited you. Sometimes we invite people to meetings and calls to be respectful of their feelings rather than their time. It's your job to safeguard the latter.
Photo credit: Japanexperterna.se via Flickr.