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What do you do to stay focused and avoid distractions?

Just saw this short video- Harness Your Attention For Optimal Performance and was wondering... "what do you do tools/practices to stay focused and not get distracted" in your workflow?

26 Replies

Atanas Stoyanov
2
0
Atanas Stoyanov Entrepreneur
Founder, CEO wootrader.com
I do simple task/to-do lists - sometimes on paper, sometimes on my phone/ipad. At the end of the day, I try to have 5-10 small tasks (10 minutes to 30 minutes) for the next day. I love striking out 'done' tasks, its a marvelous feeling.
When I get a bigger idea/task, I put it on a different list that sits there "for research" until I can divide it into smaller tasks.
When I have free time, I look at the bigger tasks and read/research on them but try to avoid getting suck into them until I can break them down, yet usually my big 'distractions' come from things that are too exciting to leave waiting.
For my devs, I also try to have lists (currently using trello), so they know each day what they need to do.
David Pariseau
2
0
David Pariseau Entrepreneur
CTO and CoFounder at Particles Plus
I agree that lists/tasks really helps keep the ball moving forward. Also, on the technical side putting together an engineering roadmap is useful both internally and externally in providing a vision for development. It can help you stay on track for product development and serve as a strawman for discussing possible new projects/features etc. in that it provides a context in discussing tradeoffs (i.e. if we do this, we have to table that, or it has such and such an impact on current deliverables...)
Md. Shihab Uddin
1
0
Md. Shihab Uddin Entrepreneur
Full Stack Entrepreneur| Helps SaaS Startups Go Lean| HBX Grad
going back to work rather posting in forums etc. Shut down these posts and etc. Go back to work than you will be happily find your solution. And all these motivation posts are just someone else's selling scheme or way's of wasting your time.
David Pariseau
0
0
David Pariseau Entrepreneur
CTO and CoFounder at Particles Plus
May be the case, didn't check out the link, but sometimes the discussions are fruitful for other readers if you take the post seriously...
Sharyn Fitzpatrick
3
0
Marketing | Webinar Program Development & Management | Editor, PresentationXpert.com l Webinar Chick I Digital Marketing
I do a combination of to do lists and setting a specific time on my schedule to handle administrative tasks including new biz development, social media outreach, billing, etc. I keep Thursday mornings open for doing that, and it works great to keep me motivated and on track. In the last year, I have also joined a mastermind group which has been a great and productive resource for feedback, ideas, and accountability. I disagree about the posts - I often find that these posts often remind us to think differently or introduce us to new services that might add value to what we do.
Ellen Grace Henson
2
0
Ellen Grace Henson Entrepreneur
Engage and align product teams for customer satisfaction and business success
In addition to to-do lists and plans, exercise (get out and walk) helps clear the clutter from your mind as does meditation.
Judy Parrish
1
0
Judy Parrish Advisor
Professor Emerita at University of Idaho
I use to-do lists, but you have to be careful--they can become a trap. It's so inherently satisfying to check stuff off and, each time you do, you feel you've really accomplished something. But let's face it--anything that can be reduced to a "task" on a list may not be where you should be putting much of your time. I've had "tasks" on to-do lists that shouldn't be there because they require long-term effort. It is all to easy to ignore them for that reason, but the problem is, they are the more important things to do and they tend to keep getting pushed off the table (I like the "for research" list idea, but worry that I, anyway, would tend to avoid looking at it).

On the other hand, to-do lists can be wonderfully helpful in the sense that, if you try to remember to do things (e.g., call a colleague, send a report, or whatever), your mind ends up juggling too many things and starts sending you these sudden, intrusive reminders (I get a kick of adrenaline when that happens). I found that, if I write those things down, my mind shuts up.

The old idea of the quadrant of activities (things that are both urgent and important, things that are urgent but not important, things that are important but not urgent, and things that are neither) has been, to my mind, very helpful. The ones that are neither can be, basically, tossed in the trash; I don't think anyone has problems with those, nor with the important but urgent. It's the important but not urgent things that get overlooked, and all too much effort is spent on things that are urgent but not important, and those are the things that tend to occupy to-do lists.

My strategy has been to either turn off the phone (if I can, or discipline myself to let the phone go over to voicemail), close email, and close the door. You also need to train yourself to focus. That was hard for me even though I have near-Asperger's ability to concentrate once I get going. It's the getting-going part that was hard. You just have to learn to shut out all the other things. I think it's helpful to set time aside to think about this mindfully (that's where the quadrants come in), and set a strategy that will work for you.

I know this all sounds kind of touchy feely, but this is an area where I think people differ vastly. What works for me might not work for others. I can't imagine being the sort of person who can be interrupted once I get going. Once I get going on something that requires a lot of concentration, the rest of the world disappears (I think the house could burn down around me and I wouldn't know it). So getting started is my "only" problem. I wouldn't have a clue how to advise someone who has trouble maintaining focus once they've captured it.


David Pariseau
1
0
David Pariseau Entrepreneur
CTO and CoFounder at Particles Plus

I agree with both previous posts:

1) finding blocks of uninterrupted time to focus one more challenging tasks,

2) making time to refresh your mind and gain perspective,

Atanas Stoyanov
0
0
Atanas Stoyanov Entrepreneur
Founder, CEO wootrader.com
I see some really good input, very down to earth.
To expand on the additional input -
For the bigger tasks - its part of my 'fun' time, I have them on my mind/review them and then just browse the internet, read some forums, discuss with customers until I have a clear idea how I can break them down into smaller steps.
To avoid distractions - phone/kids etc. I end up working a lot at night, often until next day. Not the most healthy habit....
Sharyn Fitzpatrick
0
0
Marketing | Webinar Program Development & Management | Editor, PresentationXpert.com l Webinar Chick I Digital Marketing
Bottom line, this is really about self-motivation and doing what you need to do. I am a widow with a special needs child. I have learned flexibility, patience and how to take any time I can to get things done. Yes, it means early mornings, late nights, and having a tablet while I wait for my son during his medical appts. We each have a set of tools and processes that work for us. I balance multiple clients, so my process works for me. Balance is hard but healthy. Thought-provoking discussion.
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