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How to Maintain Focus Despite Distractions


Thu Sep 10 2020

How to Maintain Focus Despite Distractions

It’s a hard time to get things done right now. The world seems like it is crumbling around us, and if we are lucky enough to have a job, chances are we are wondering how long it will last. The stress of a pandemic and trying to stay alive is enough, but adding extra stress to the mix when it comes to a significant economic downturn is keeping everyone awake at night. It’s understandable that we are feeling more distracted than ever before, but there are tools we can use to combat distraction and keep moving forward.

Why Modern Offices Are So Distracting

Even before the pandemic, 99 percent of people reported they were distracted at work on a daily basis. It’s easy to understand why—many offices have eschewed cubicle walls and closed doors for open spaces for ease of collaboration. While open-concept offices are great for communication, they are not so great for concentration.


Offices have noises, music, and more that prevent people from being able to concentrate on the task at hand, and the ability to focus amid these distractions varies among different age groups.

Baby boomers feel more productive when they have a quiet place to focus, and they are three times more likely to be unable to concentrate in an open office as their Gen Z counterparts. Gen Zers, on the other hand, report they are most productive when engaging in collaborative tasks with others, and they are less likely to find music or other noises to be distracting.

Still, 74 percent of millennials and Gen Zers report being distracted at work, and 69 percent admit their smartphone is one of their biggest distractions.

Daily Distractions

Smartphones and their apps are designed to garner as much of our attention as possible. Humans have increasingly shorter attention spans, and it takes a lot to get our attention. Designers of these apps and smartphones know this and throw everything into achieving this goal.

Even under the best of circumstances our minds naturally wander. In one study, participants were randomly asked if they were focused on the task at hand and only 47 percent said yes. We evolved this way because not so long ago in human history it was better for our survival if we could shift attention rapidly to avoid danger.


Fighting Back Against Distractions

We’re stressed out and we’re wired for distractions. But that doesn’t mean we have to live with them if they are disrupting our daily lives.

In the office, we can set aside quiet places or even time periods to work when we need to focus and ensure that noises and music are kept to a minimum.

At home we can set aside a space for working so that when we are in that space our brains know it’s time to work and not time to do the dishes or plan dinner.

Wherever we work, there are also tools we can use to prevent distractions from taking over our focus:

  • Turn off notifications when you need to concentrate.

  • Make lists of which tasks need to be accomplished and check them off as you go. It can give you a boost of motivation to see your accomplishments in action.

  • Take a 15-minute break every two hours for optimal performance.

  • Use software that helps you to track tasks across multiple projects to stay organized.

  • Use a white noise generator or machine to eliminate noise distractions.

For more, check out this infographic.


Source: NonProfit Colleges Online

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