I think we’re all searching for ways to get more done in less time with fewer distractions, right? We’ve come to terms with the fact that the 40-hour (plus) workweek is a creation of capitalism and not necessarily the best or right way to achieve all the things you want to achieve.
My whole mantra around work is that when I’m on, I’m ON. Meaning, when I’m working, I want it to be focused time spent moving the needle and making an impact. I don’t want to guess my way through tasks that may or may not actually be supporting my business, team, or goals. And I don’t want to feel like my brain is being tugged in a million directions due to outside distractions.
If you’re ready to rule your workday and feel like you’re able to stay on task, check out these methods for optimizing your time and environment!
01. Remove the easiest distraction: your phone.
Do you ever find yourself picking up your phone during a “break”… and then not putting it back down for 30 minutes? Or even just mindlessly grabbing it for a quick scroll when you’re stuck on something. Orrr, hearing it buzz and pausing what you’re doing to check the notification. On average, we spend about two hours on our phones during the workday doing non-work-related tasks (source). So yep, this thing is definitely impacting our focus. Here’s how to get a better grip on your phone usage!
Turn on “Do Not Disturb”
Uh-huh, believe it or not, this tiny, simple action makes a HUGE difference. When “do not disturb” mode is enabled, your phone will not make any sounds or vibrations for incoming calls, messages, or notifications. This can help you avoid interruptions and stay focused on the task at hand. Additionally, the “do not disturb” mode can help you avoid the temptation to check your phone constantly, which can be a major distraction. By enabling “do not disturb” mode, you can create a quieter, more distraction-free environment that can help you focus and be more productive.
Move your phone to another room
If you still find yourself picking up your device, try just putting it in another room (or across the room). Having it outside of arm’s reach makes it a whoooole lot tougher to pick up and mindlessly scroll. I also have a little wooden box that is the size of my phone on my desk to place my phone in when I need to focus! Anything that can remove the distraction (and bonus if it’s in a different room!)
Make apps harder to find
My go-to apps to open up without thinking about it are Instagram and Facebook — but I’ve made them tougher to get to on my phone. It becomes harder for your muscle memory to get to your go-to time-killer apps when you move them to some new real estate. There is science that says that even delaying your brain a second or two can impact your actions! Whether you put the apps so you have to scroll a few more pages to get to them, add them into a specific folder that is harder to access or use an app like “One Sec” that makes you take a deep breath and designate why you’re going onto an app, being more mindful can help you achieve more and get distracted less!
Set screen time limits
Smartphones now let you place your own limitations on usage by creating screen time limits for apps you frequent often! (You can also do it old school and give yourself a certain time limit each day that you track with a timer, but I’ve found that setting up automated time limits keeps me more honest.) There’s something powerful when your phone reminds you of the limits you’re setting for yourself or when you’re quickly approaching (or have passed those limits!) I love that our phones make it easy to help us track our time!
Make sure your computer is also optimized for productivity
If your phone’s set to be a distraction-free zone, make sure your laptop is, too! Exit out of unnecessary tabs, close out anything that pops up with notifications (email, Slack, etc.), and remove your text messages from your desktop to stay on task. I am the queen of working with too many tabs open (to the point where my computer wants to explode!) and so when I need to focus a lot of times I need to close out of everything except for the work I am needing to focus on!
02. Don’t wait around to feel “motivated.”
Motivation — like all feelings — can be fleeting. Make sure you put commitments, tools, and processes in place to perform at your best, regardless of fickle emotions. Know your optimal work energy times: if you have the most energy in the mornings, devote that time to your deepest work. And when in doubt, just start.
Motivation often shows up once we start taking action, so even if it’s an easy task, simply getting the ball rolling will kickstart some momentum. The more you take small actions, the more you’ll be inspired to keep showing up and create results. Action can often breed motivation so if you’re waiting around for it, I challenge you to simply start.
03. Stop multitasking.
Fully admit, I am THE worst at this. I love to think I can do more than one thing at once but I can’t; it’s just task-switching and it actually slows down your progress and retention. I remember when I heard Russell Brunson teach this technique where he would buy an audiobook and the physical book and he’d listen to the audiobook on like 3x speed and follow the words in the physical book and he could speed read a book in a day or two because he’s fully focused on one thing. Give yourself ONE task at a time and complete it before moving to the next one.
(Another great reason to keep email and other communications closed while you’re working! It’s so hard to go from replying to a quick email to a work task to a text message back to the task and actually progress in a timely or meaningful way.)
04. Set up your workspace the day/night before.
I learned this one from my friend Marie Forleo! She shares this tip that she calls Mise en place! Mise en place is a French term that means “putting in place” or “everything in its place.” In the culinary world, it refers to the practice of organizing and preparing all of the ingredients, tools, and equipment needed for cooking before beginning the cooking process. This involves tasks such as measuring out ingredients, chopping vegetables, and heating up pots and pans.
The idea behind mise en place is to make the cooking process more efficient and organized by having everything ready to go before you start cooking. The goal here is to eliminate distractions and decision fatigue first thing so you can shift into priorities with ease. It doesn’t take much time but makes a world of difference! Set your things up like a trained chef does so that when you’re ready to work, you can get right to it!
Close down computer tabs
Closing down all of the tabs on your computer outside of the ones you’ll need for the action at hand will allow you to jump right into what you want to do. When you have a lot of tabs open, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of what you’re doing. This can make it difficult to concentrate and focus on the task at hand. By closing unnecessary tabs, you can declutter your workspace and reduce distractions, which can help you stay focused on the task at hand. Additionally, having too many tabs open can use up a lot of your computer’s memory, which can slow down your machine and make it more difficult to work efficiently.
Take 4 minutes to think about tomorrow’s plan
Another tip I learned from Marie was to plan out tomorrow, today! Not only does it help you to start your day knowing where to focus your energy but it also allows you to rest easier knowing that you have a plan to execute on the things weighing on your brain. As someone with ADHD, this has been so helpful for me to not stress, because I can rest knowing I’ve got a plan in place for the next day and I won’t forget what I need to do. Before you wrap your workday, no matter the time, train yourself to take FOUR minutes to think through what you want to accomplish tomorrow so you can realistically and successfully block out the time you need to learn. Jot down a brain dump to-do list or your Big 3 (the three tasks you want to accomplish above all else) so you have a plan well ahead of time.
Visualize how you want tomorrow to go
In Marie Forleo’s brilliant time management course, Time Genius, she shares her mindset strategy of programming her mind each night by telling her subconscious mind when she will wake up and how. As in, “I’m going to wake up at X time and I’m going to feel energized or excited today!” which helps set the mood for success. It might sound a little woo-woo, but I’ve been doing this and it’s actually amazing how much it impacts the next day!
Now you’re ready to tackle your workday with ease — or at least, less distractions and more efficiency! With a few intentional yet tiny actions, you’ll be able to go from frazzled to hyper-focused (without burning yourself out). You do not need to live in a state of time stress! Getting more done in less time so you can get back to living your life? It’s a yes for me.