Distractions hugely contribute towards our lack of productivity, but it’s about how we deal with these distractions that allows us to power through them. Considering more people may be working and studying from home now, it seemed appropriate to address my top five distractions and how I deal with them, as it can be hard to adjust to working in a home environment as there are a lot more distractions. Throughout writing this post I’ve realised I probably need to take some of my own advice on board and actually tackle the distractions that I face!
- That one app you’ve never used
The first thing I do when I want a distraction is look at my phone. I get bored of social media quickly especially if there’s nothing interesting to look at, and I somehow always come across an app I’ve had on my phone for ages and decide I’m going to learn how to use it. While this seems fun at the time, in reality I’m just wasting time and not completing the work I need to get done.
TIP: There’s an app I’ve used previously called Flora, which plants virtual trees when you aren’t using your phone. If you pick up your phone, the tree dies and you have to start again. You can add friends on the app too, to see who has the best garden. It does sound a bit ridiculous but if you really can’t break the habit of picking up your phone, this is great for stopping you from getting distracted!
2. Your entire room suddenly needs reorganising
Living and working in a clean and tidy space is great, but don’t use your working time to majorly reform your surroundings. You probably feel like you want to organise your room there and then because you’re in the right mindset to do so, but you need to avoid this distraction.
TIP: Set aside time to organise your space, but make sure you’re actually going to get it done. Break your room or desk up into sections so that you aren’t doing all of the tidying at once but spacing it out across a day or even a week. Make a quick list of what needs tidying and reorganising so that the ideas are out of your head and on paper, then go back to your task.
3. That one text from a friend
Other people are probably one of the biggest distractions, especially if you’re easily influenced like me. It’s harder to say no to meeting up with your friends particularly when the task you’re trying to get done is difficult. However, don’t feel bad for saying no – it’s important to prioritise your tasks, especially if deadlines are catching up with you. If you see your task as part of the bigger picture, you’ll appreciate that it’ll benefit you in the long run if you complete it now rather than give up as soon as someone invites you to go out.
TIP: The ‘Do Not Disturb’ setting on phones is one of my favourite features, take advantage of this! You can also limit your screen time with the ‘Downtime’ setting (on iPhones) so your phone doesn’t keep flashing up with notifications.
4. Researching different careers
I’ve had moments where the work I’m doing is so challenging that I start having a crisis and reconsidering my career choices (hence the changing of my degree from Law to Public Relations). Whilst there’s nothing wrong with a career change, it’s best to not overwhelm yourself with this and just set aside time to research more into this new career if it’s something you’re serious about. For now, focus on the present and the task that needs to be completed.
TIP: Don’t make impulsive decisions about a career change either; no career is free of difficult tasks, but if you’re sure you want a change of direction then undertake some extensive research at a later date and speak to those working in that field. If possible, speak to people who have changed from working in your current field to your desired field.
5. Negative thoughts
Once we start thinking negatively and questioning our talents, the thoughts continue to snowball and it can feel overwhelming. I get through this by stopping to meditate and simply saying ‘not now’ to push the thoughts away whilst meditating so that I can have a clear mind. You could also take a break to listen to uplifting music and repeat positive affirmations to yourself.
TIP: Take some time to yourself, maybe an hour or so, and surround yourself with positivity. This allows you to go back to the task with a different mindset. If this doesn’t work, leave the task until the following day if possible and sleep on it – you’ll hopefully wake up with a better mindset. If the negative thoughts are constantly present, it may be that you need to find the root issue and take action to combat this.
You can visit these sites to find a range of resources and helplines if you need support:
- NHS Recommended Mental Health Charities
- Mind Mental Health Recommended Crisis Helplines
- Find your local services
- Nightline for University Students
I hope that these typical scenarios did resonate with you in some way and that my solutions are beneficial! The key is balance: don’t overwork yourself, but don’t neglect your work so much to the point where you’re falling behind. It is important to remember to take regular breaks and celebrate the completion of your tasks, in order to avoid distractions when you are trying to focus. Most importantly, no task should take priority over your mental health, so make sure you are aware of the resources available to you if you are struggling to cope.
Feel free to comment below any distractions I may have missed or any other solutions that work for you!