There are so many things that distract us and get in the way of reaching big goals. If we really want to get things done and be successful, we need to learn to stop distractions. I found this one tip to be a game changer!
I have struggled with attention and focus throughout my life, though not in a huge way that was entirely noticeable. I did well in school and was able to compensate for the most part. I had difficulty with planning big projects and staying on task. I procrastinated, doing most things the night before they were due. It all worked out for me. It was painful at times (such as when I had to tell myself to decide whether I wanted to get my doctorate or master Minesweeper).
Let me stand up and admit it, I have “shiny object syndrome.” (Check out this great podcast episode discussing one man’s struggle with shiny object syndrome). I can be hyper interested in something and then the next day I am onto something else and super interested in that thing, abandoning projects or interests along the way. This can happen pretty quickly, resulting in some expensive choices.
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Shiny object syndrome is a danger for many bloggers, especially with all the wonderful courses out there. Trust me, I know haha. I have many courses. Ask me which ones are great, I can tell you.
My Most Difficult Time With Focus and Attention
My problems with attention and concentration were out of this world at my last job. I was not able to compensate. There were too many demands and way too much information coming at me on a daily basis. It was difficult.
I learned so much during that time and want to share the number one tip that helped me and that was managing email. Wow, I think I received 200 emails an hour there. I was the manager of a large department and the way the department communicated to each other throughout the day was through email.
I remember feeling like I could not leave my desk or do anything else except check email all day. Never mind responding to email! They were coming in so quickly. I had no clue how to keep track of the ones I needed to respond to while also ensuring that I didn’t miss any crises that might have been happening in the moment.
Thinking about this is raising my blood pressure! I was pretty stressed out.
I spent a weekend researching on Youtube how to manage email and discovered a way to create folders with shortcuts to move emails to those folders. I discovered tips to automatically move unimportant emails to a folder I could check in on later. I learned to combine OneNote with Outlook so that I could save important things into OneNote to take care of later (if the email folder was not enough). All of this stuff helped; however, my main reason for writing this post today is to tell you the number one thing I did to help manage the chaos.
The Number One Most Effective Thing For Managing Chaos
I turned off email notifications.
As a person with focus issues, I noticed that every time the little email notification flashed on my screen, I lost all focus on what I was doing and could not get back to whatever it was because I forgot what I was doing. When you get hundreds and hundreds of emails a day, there is no way to cope with getting distracted every minute while still trying to get things done.
Even if you get less emails during the day, that little flashy box or worse, the noise that goes it it, pulls you out of whatever you are focusing on and derails your efforts. Have you noticed that?
Scary But Essential
I was terrified to turn off notifications because I was worried I would miss some really important crisis. In my line of work I need to know what is going to ensure someone is responding.
I had to let go of some of the control and trust the department staff. They rarely missed responding to an emergency. If there was an emergency I needed to know about, chances were I would know about it through staff coming to talk to me, through someone calling me, or through one of the times I chose to check my email.
So I took the leap. I turned off notifications.
It’s not like I became a perfect productivity wiz at that time, but I had a sense of calm. I could check email less often and actually get things done. I tended to miss less things because I had focused times to check the email rather than spending all day trying to keep up. It was amazing.
I bet no one even noticed I wasn’t getting their emails in real time. In fact, when you think about it people usually do not know if you receive their emails quickly! Usually they are not in the same room with you seeing you sitting at the computer. You could be in a meeting or in the bathroom or something.
My Challenge To You
My challenge to you is to try it. Turn off your email notifications! In fact, turn off every notification that flashes or beeps at you when you are trying to work. After all, we are trying to do great things. We are trying to get a ton of things done in not that much time.
Do me a favor and try it for a week. If you hate it or you miss important things, you can turn them back on. My guess is you will get more done and actually be more present when you do check your email, resulting in much better responses to that email!
After you try it, come back and leave me a comment! Better yet, sign up for my email list and shoot me an email! I want to hear how this worked for you!
If you have great tips you have learned to keep yourself productive and get your work done, leave those in the comments. And if you found this helpful I would appreciate a share on Pinterest.
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Marlena is the blogger behind apenandapurpose.com, where she writes about using journaling for self improvement and reaching goals in life and business. Using her experience as a Licensed Psychologist with a Master’s in Business, she teaches people how to break through negative thoughts and fear to do what matters. For more about me read my about page.