March 31, 2020
Distraction V focus
They ring and some of them even ping. They are normally on the end of our hand. They are often by the side of our bed. They help us out. They feed our addiction.
You all know what I am talking about, in fact you are probably reading this article on your phone. We are lost without them but at times being without them is all we wish for.
So how do we stay focused when at times it seems that the biggest piece of technology that we will ever use is just distracting us. I have asked myself this question over and over. I often couple it with the thought; “I have in the palm of my hand a device that I can literally run my business from anywhere in the world with so long as I have a connection but it also has the power to ruin so much with the flash of a message.”
Here are 5 points I have implemented into my life over the last 12 months to stay focused and free from distraction:
Turn all notifications off: Unless you ring me or my alarm is going off, my phone will never light up and distract me. One better though, when I open it there are no red bubbles on the screen which immediately distract me, be them from Instagram, WhatsApp or mail. I have to physically open the app to see what’s there. I introduced this around 8 months ago and although at the start and still in phases I found myself checking the apps too often, it is so liberating and allows me to pick up my phone and do what I picked it up for with focus and not be distracted.
Put my phone to bed: I have a goal of putting my phone to bed once I arrive home at the end of the day or at 6pm. That means it’s on charge and I do not look at it from that point. This enables me to be present with Holly or any house guests, allows me to read and does not have my mind racing based on a message I have read just before I am trying to wind down for the evening. Whilst my it rate is not 100% I make this happen 4 out of 5 week nights which I think is a win.
Bulk reply: I should add here “and delayed”. As I am not getting notifications all the time I will open my mail and WhatsApp when it suits me and reply at once to everything that needs doing. With chat apps I will try and ever avoid getting in back and forth conversations, if this happens I pick up the phone. We do not need to reply to mails and messages as soon as they are sent 99% of the time, most of them can wait and the world will not change.
Monitor screen time reports: Apple send me a screen report weekly. I take this very seriously and set realistic goals on the metrics. If I see my social media time is high but that week I have sourced some good business from social media I will not be stressed, that’s a positive. If it starts to reach more than my daily goal then I will have a think about reducing it and how productive I am on various apps. My ultimate goal is to run my life and my business optimally with the least amount of screen time.
Have phone free time / days: “Phone free Friday” is that “a thing” not sure but I have been trying to make it happen with varying levels of success. What I have been more successful with is committing to say an hour or 5 hours without using / checking my phone. This is normally when I want to do some deep work. I have no clue how people get any quality work done when they are checking their phones every 2 minutes.
Of course we are all very different but one thing we all share in common is that we are more distracted by our phones than ever before and as a result are missing special times with families or friends or doing great pieces of work. You can create focus but you have to have some rules. I hope that you find some that work for you.