You’ve sat down at your desk, a neat To Do list beside you, music playing softly from your laptop speaker, a mug of steaming hot tea (or in my case, a shot of espresso that’s been sitting out for an hour because I forgot about it) sitting beside you. You are ready to Work. Yes, that capital W was intentional. Because you mean business, baby.
And then, out of the corner of your eye, you see your phone light up like the sky on the fourth of July.
(I haven’t actually seen the famed fireworks because I live in Australia, but it felt appropriate given it actually is July 4. I try to be relevant ?).
It’s a notification. Someone liked the coffee and sunrise photo you put up on Instagram this morning!
Who?? You eagerly open your phone, fingers dancing across the kaleidoscope of apps to land on your beloved pink square – Instagram.
Oh, it was Ange from the gym. She likes everything.
You’re about to close the app and get back to work when the feed refreshes and shows a new Lion King promo pic that Beyoncé has uploaded. She looks amazing.
And suddenly you’re googling Lion King release dates, and then you’re watching the Lion King trailer and then you’re watching Jimmy Fallon interview John Oliver about the trailer, and then he’s interviewing those kids from Stranger Things, and oh look! someone else liked that sunrise pic on Instagram!
And the cycle continues.
It’s a cycle I’m sure you’re familiar with.
I’d never really realised just how sneaky and ubiquitous all those notifications on your phone really are.
But they’re trouble.
Because distraction is a dream killer.
(Those are Marie Forleo’s words, not mine. She’s v. clever.).
Because we’re continually distracted by news alerts and notifications and all the bright, shiny stuff on our phone home screen, a task that should only take us 20 mins might push out to 2 hours.
And because I’m really into efficiency (sexy, I know) that really bugs me!
I wanted to find a way to cut down on all those distractions.
And then, on Zoe Foster’s suggestion, I read this article by Better Humans.
In their words, it’s a Very, Very Complete Guide to Productivity, Focus, and Your Own Longevity.
I mean, it’s a catchy title.
It hooked me.
And because I’m one of the “Productivity Nerds” mentioned in the article, I didn’t just skim through it, think “Oh that’s a good idea” and then immediately click out to read “7 nail art trends you need to try” (I mean, I did read it. Just later that night. Apparently tortoiseshell nails are still a thing).
I actually went through and did what the article told me to.
Y’know, things like turning off all my notifications, hiding social media apps in separate folders and enabling the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. Following the article’s advice, I even changed my background to all black, rather than a photo, to remind me that my phone is for work, it’s not a toy.
So, now when I need to focus, like finish the next chapter of my new book, I do the following things:
1. Block internet access on my computer (this helps).
2. Put my devices on Do Not Disturb and airplane mode.
3. Put on my Beats headphones.
4. Listen to BrainFM (it’s a paid app I think, but I swear by it. I use the focus setting).
5. Have a water bottle on the desk with me.
If you’re also a human being who is prone to distraction, give the above steps a try.
And let me know if they help you break the cycle too.
PS – Speaking of productive routines, I’ve made my Morning Mindset Routine available again! It steps you through the simple rituals I use every morning to set myself up with a more positive outlook and a strong mindset. It’s a super simple ten minute routine that will transform your day (even if you’re not a morning person). Check it out here.
Productivity, yo! We’re swimming in it today!