Do you ever find yourself doing the exact thing you’ve told someone else not to do?
A while back I was working on a project, and I had specifically set aside a timeframe to focus on that one thing. I wasn’t going to open my web browser, look at my phone, or get out of my chair and walk around my apartment for no good reason.
And then it happened: I opened a web browser, and suddenly my timeframe to focus on that one thing went out the window. Distraction: 1 – Productivity: 0.
Focus can be ruined in an instant.
Why it’s easier to tell than to do
I was so mad at myself for breaking my own rule. I thought to myself, “Why is it so much easier to tell than to do?”
(I’m sharing this story because I know you’ve done it too. We’ve all done it.)
It’s easier to tell than to do because when we’re telling, we’re focused on the end goal: productivity, accomplishing a task.
After I finished wasting time being mad about what I’d done, I realized that all that was left to do was to learn from my mistake. Since then, I’ve given my all to practicing what I preach, knowing that I won’t always be perfect, and that I will have those days when my concentration is not going to be on its best behavior. Productivity can’t ALWAYS win.
Perhaps my biggest lesson learned here was this:
I know it’s okay to make mistakes; making mistakes is how we learn. But the only thing that is going to help me improve and get better at what I do is not making the same mistakes over and over again. If my end goal is productivity, accomplishing a task, then I need to be sure that when I set that time aside to focus on that particular task, I will not let distraction take over.
It’s a mindset.
I challenged myself (and I challenge you now) to make it a habit – a mindset – to not lose concentration once you’ve put your mind to focusing and finishing a specific task. Here’s how:
Create a routine for yourself
When you’re coming up on your hour of concentration for a specific task, complete a set of actions that are exactly the same every time. It’s not rocket science.
- Go to the bathroom so that a full bladder isn’t your excuse for having to get up
- Fill your glass of water and grab that cup of coffee so it’s right there waiting for you
- Be sure your phone is on silent, and preferably, not on your desk
- Close ALL programs except the ones absolutely necessary to complete your task
- Turn on your desk lamp
As you set aside an hour here and there to complete a specific task, practice training your mind and body to understand that that time – that hour – is only for that one task. By creating a routine for yourself, your mind and body will start to prepare itself for what’s ahead if you’re consistent.
Next time we check the score, I bet it’ll be Productivity: 1 – Distraction: 0. Now, go get after it!