One of the most challenging aspects of working for yourself can be being your own boss. It’s just too easy to get distracted, especially when you spend most – or all – of your time working online. It really can get crazy, and hours can get sucked up into the abyss. Here’s how to not let that happen, and stay on track…
Listen To Audio Books
It might sound counter-intuitive, but listening to audio books while I work is one of the things that keeps me most focussed on what I’m doing. I think it’s probably the meditative sound of the reader speaking in hushed tones – yep, I usually listen to mysteries – that calms me down.
For some people the idea of working and listening at the same time would be distracting in itself, but if you are like me, I get bored while working – and this is just the sort of innocent stimulation I need to keep me going.
Whats great about audio books is that you can keep LOOKING at your screen where you are working.
If I were to alleviate boredom in any other way, it is usually a visual source like a YouTube video or Facebook, and that takes me away from what I’m doing.
Also audio books can last for hours and hours. So once you relax into the rhythm of it you can find yourself in the zone for extended periods without any need for distraction.
If you aren’t into mystery novels, listen to some motivational or business audio books. There are lots of free audio books on YouTube in a variety of genres.
Take Phone Breaks
People say to switch off your phone while working. I think that works for some people, but for others there’s a better way.
Phone on silent and turned upside down so you can’t see any notifications at all.
Every half an hour or so, stretch, check out if you have received any important messages or calls, and if not turn it back over.
Don’t use this as an opportunity to then fall into a conversation on Watsapp for the next hour.
Take ten minutes or so to chat and wrap up any conversation and, if you feel you need to, let the person know you will text them later. Then back to your audio book – and your work.
Stay Snacked Up
If you aren’t the person whose need to chew on something takes them away from their desk, you might not need to implement this one.
If on the other hand you are the kind of person who is always jumping up to grab something to eat and getting distracted in front of the fridge, this might be the way to go.
Obviously, be careful as eating at your desk for hours on end every day is not the goal here…and you don’t want to make a habit of eating meals at your work desk.
What is the goal is to keep you working through the little niggles of distraction. Before you start work, prepare for yourself a plate of apple or orange slices or some sultanas – and plenty of water.
Really, your snack is up to you, but I suggest you steer well away from high calorie processed food. Not only will it ruin your meals but it will make you feel sluggish and tired while trying to work.
Mix Things You Like Doing With Things You Don’t
Distraction is often a result of boredom.
Doing tasks you dislike makes you even more prone to distraction.
Give yourself bursts of enjoyable work in between periods of doing thing that bore you. I particularly like creating blog post featured images and Pinterest images on Canva so If I get stuck writing a blog post, I will head over to Canva and get started on the images for the post while I mull over how to continue writing the post AND while I continue to listen to my audio book…
Yes, it often takes three layers of activity to keep me absorbed.
What’s Bothering You?
Sometimes all the strategy in the world doesn’t help. What then?
Figure out what’s bothering you…do you keep on wondering what you are going to have for lunch? What happened on last night’s episode of South Park, what outfit are you gonna wear tonight?
Whatever, it is deal with it.
Go make lunch and put it aside for later. Go watch that South Park episode. Layout your outfit for your date.
Then sit back down and work. You may spend some time doing all those things that were gnawing at your mind but when you get back to your computer you will be able to dedicate your attention more fully to the task.
Work Offline and Change The Scenery
Get off the online space once in a while. Or make it a once a week thing if it suits you.
Obviously it will depend upon the work that you do, but if at all possible, assign half a day or more once in a while to leave your usual work space and go somewhere different to work offline.
Take your laptop or just a notebook and pen.
These sorts of days are great for brainstorming. head to the park, or to a library, or anywhere quiet that you like.
Take inspiration from your new surroundings. write lists, flesh out drafts, mind map the direction of your business, outline an ebook, write a blog post…
We spend a lot of time absorbed the online world – and it’s such a big world, ain’t it – that we become a frazzle of clicks and pop-ups and ads and news….
Going somewhere different to do something slightly different helps to give perspective and new focus. If you enjoy that experience you might want to make it part of your regular schedule, spending mornings on pen and paper and entering the result of that into your online platform in the evenings, or vice versa.
Just trying a new way of doing what you do will add a level of interest to your work that will stave off distraction.
Have A Life
It can be hard when working and being accountable to yourself, or trying to start your business, but you need to make sure you are setting aside rewarding time for a life outside work. Try to plan regular social outings for yourself, relaxing walks of an evening, pampering rituals or even go out by yourself for dinner or a drink.
Giving yourself small things to look forward to regularly can help you to pay more attention to what you are doing now in front of the keyboard – because you know you will have some fun later.
You will be more inclined to knuckle down and just work when you know that time has been allocated for leisure later.
How do you stave off distracting influences? Are you going to try any of the strategies above? Let me know in the comments below