I just might be the queen of distraction. Not only am I easily distracted, but I have an amazing ability of distracting other people.
Let me give you an example: Have you ever seen the comic in the paper Pearls Before Swine? Back on May 23, the entire 18-panel cartoon was about distraction. You should check it out now; it’s really funny. I’ll be here when you come back.
Did you follow the link? Did you scroll through a number of Pearls Before Swine comic strips before returning here? How long did you click around on Comics.com? Hello? Hello? Did you remember to come back at all?
Avoiding distractions can sometimes be as easy as not clicking on links or turning off the new e-mail indicator light on your message program. Setting your phone to “Do Not Disturb” or turning off the ringer is another good idea for those times when you need to focus. In an office, you can close your door or put earphones in your ears (even if you’re not listening to anything) if you work in a cubicle. Or, if you’re easily distracted like I am, invest in a desktop alarm to sound at regular intervals. When the alarm sounds, it’s a brief but effective reminder to stay on task.
If you’re working at home and want to stay in your kitchen until it’s cleaned, I recommend putting your trash can in an inconvenient spot. When you go to walk around it, you think, “Why is this in such a strange place?” You remember, and you stay in the kitchen for cleanup. I’ll shut bedroom or bathroom doors if I’m working in these spaces and put a sticky note on the door that says, “Don’t get distracted!” For as basic as these suggestions sound, they actually are effective for me.
Do you have difficulty staying on task? What do you do to retain your focus? Share your suggestions in the comments.