In this age of social media and technology, on occasion I find it extremely difficult to focus. I start out my day feeling so energetic and ambitious, but find that I waste so many hours doing things that are unproductive (i.e. being on my phone) and really serving no purpose. I decided to do some research to figure out ways that I can stay focused and productive. I realize I am not alone struggling with focus and productivity issues and thought I would share what I have learnt about this issue.
I’ll tell you a little about my problems with focus. Well, I am enrolled in a course these days that requires self-study. So I take out my books, my laptop and head on over to a coffee shop. Sounds like a plan right? Well, it would be a great plan, but I find myself checking my instagram every 5 minutes, and then Whatsapp takes up some time, and then catching up on my favourite blog, and before I know it, I have spent an hour, and only highlighted one sentence in my book! What could have been a very productive time at the coffee shop, really ends up being a waste, with me feeling like I have accomplished nothing.
Oh and focus issues creep up when I am trying to read a book, like get into it a new book that I so desperately want to read, but for some reason it sits beside me on the couch, but my phone just takes up too much of my attention. Not cool right? I miss the days when I could spend hours just curled up on the couch reading, but I find my attention span is not quite there.
I think there is a common culprit in all of this: my smartphone!
It probably comes as no surprise that many of us are addicted to our phones. We spend multiple hours a day aimlessly switching through apps, checking social media and on text messaging.
So what can we do the curb the addiction and stay focused and more productive?
1. Hide Your Phone
I know this sounds nuts right? But a lot of articles I read, really suggest this as a technique. Put it away when you really want to focus, like in a drawer or in your purse. Check it after an hour and see how much you accomplished in that hour.
2. Do NOT Use Your Phone as Your Alarm Clock
I do this, and I really need to stop. It is nuts that the last thing I do before I sleep is check my phone, I could use this time for reading or just relaxing and unwinding. Being on my phone doesn’t make me unwind! Also, when I wake up the next day, what is the first thing I do? Check my phone of course! I wake up to a stream of notifications and realize how unpleasant a way this is to start your day. Your morning routine should really consist of stretching, taking a moment for yourself and maybe even meditating, but when we reach for our phones we start our day overwhelmed by notifications and emails. The solution: Get an Alarm Clock. Yes, I know it is 2018 and all, but I think I am ready to go back to using an alarm clock. That way I don’t keep my phone on my bedside table, and don’t check it first thing in the morning.
3. Use the Airplane Mode Feature of your Phone
Airplane mode isn’t just for planes. You can use it when you really want to focus, get involved in a task, and concentrate. You can reward yourself later by checking your phone after you have done what you set out to accomplish in that hour.
4. Installing a Time Tracking App on your Phone
This should probably be the first thing you do actually – installing an app that tells you how much time you spend on your phone. This might be a way to motivate yourself after finding out how many countless hours you spend on your phone which can be used for reading, working out, picking up a new hobby or spending quality time with family and friends.
5. Practicing Mindfulness
We hear about this term a lot but really all mindfulness means is being present in the moment. It means being aware of your thoughts and feelings at any given moment and not being clouded by your thoughts. You can practice mindfulness through meditation, taking deep breaths and even just going for a walk and observing what you see, feel and hear. One of my favourite quotes on mindfulness is from Eckhart Tolle:
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
I hope this article helps you find some strategies for staying focused and not being distracted by your phone! Let me know how you stay focused and engaged in the comments below!