11 Hacks on how to Find Focus In a World of Distractions
“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” — Tim Ferris
As a young adult working in a fast changing industry where being up to date with latest technologies has become a competitive advantage it became hard to find focus on what is actually important in life.
Instead of focusing on how to connect us better, social media giants apps on how to retain users on the platform as much as possible.
Authors of the book “Make Time” Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, ex-employees of Google Ventures and YouTube have been studying the topic of “time” for a decade. Their goal was to find tips and tricks on how to maximize the daily output without sacrificing daily pleasures.
The book is divided into 4 sections — Highlight, Laser, Energize, Reflect.
I specifically enjoyed a chapter of the book named “Laser” as it shares many tips on how to to live a distraction free life and achieve more without sacrificing the daily pleasures as going out, Netflix, reading a book, etc.
The chapter bundles together 44 “Laser Tactics” on how to find focus and stay on top of our daily goals. In this article, I will be sharing a summary of the part called “Stay out of Infinity Pools”.
If you are trying to find new ways on how to minimize time spend on scrolling through the infinity of internet feeds, then keep reading.
Skip the morning check-in
Every morning you may feel very tempted to pick up the phone and check what happened during the time you were asleep. Then after 20 minutes of time wasted on “Nothing New” or “Nothing Important,” you also feel less energy and motivation to get out of bed.
Try instead postponing your morning check-in to 3–4 hours after you’ve woken up. After lunch is even better. Keep the calm state of mind you are given each morning and you will feel less rushed and stressed during the day
Block Distraction Kryptonite
Each one of us has an “Infinity Pool” eating our time day by day without noticing. Some of us are so deep into this, we can’t even notice it. Author’s of the book calls this Kryptonite. A tool or website that gets you stuck in a pool of infinity scrolling and checking.
Each one of us has the responsibility to identify their own Distraction Kryptonites and be aware of them. When you identify them, try making them harder to achieve. If your Distraction Kryptonite is checking Facebook, try deleting the app from your phone.
Didn’t work? — Log out of Facebook from your computer. Change the password. Forget it. See how this works. I bet you will get lazier to check Facebook feed again.
Ignore the News
I can gather all the news I need on the weather report.
Let’s just be honest, how many times per day you check the news and realize you have just lost 30 minutes on bullshit? Stop checking the news every 2–3 hours. Check them once a day or even once a week. Important news will find you!
Put your toys away
Try and keep a clean working desk. No mess, no distractions like phones on it, nothing. Just you and your focus.
Laptop desktop — keep it clean. Take 15 minutes right now and clean all the folders, delete all the pictures you haven’t opened for months and all the unnecessary apps you don’t use. Add a nice and relaxing background image you can enjoy every time you open your laptop.
When your desktop is overflowed with pictures, folders, stickers, widgets and all kinds of stuff it just makes your brain focus on 20 different things at the same time. Keep it minimal.
Browser — close it every time before closing your computer. You don’t want to open your computer with 20 tabs open, email open, and YouTube open. It will make you lose your focus instantly.
Fly without WiFi
Having a good connection in the air nowadays is a rarity. However, we still feel the need to be connected even above the earth.
Instead of paying money, putting in the password, trying to connect, try to decide now and forever that the air time is the time for yourself.
Dedicate this 2 hours to doing something meaningful. Writing a letter home. Editing a picture of your family. Talking to strangers. Thinking, meditating, practicing gratefulness.
There is plenty of meaningful stuff to do. Just chose one to start with.
Put a Timer on the Internet
Try switching your internet off. Disconnect from the WiFi. Power down all the distraction pools around you.
Temporarily block all social media websites. There are plenty of apps and extensions to help you with that. Block everything for 2 hours and forget about anything else except your task.
Cancel the Internet
This might be a crazy challenge but it’s worth trying. Unsubscribe from the internet. Meaning no internet server at home. You can still use your hotspot to access the internet for a short period of time. But is it worth it?
Not brave enough to switch off the internet? — Ask a brave friend to change your WiFi password and keep it away from you for the next 24 hours.
Watch Out for Time Craters
I am sure you noticed already that when you post something on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook you tend to go back after the post to see reactions of your network. Even though you only spent 2 minutes sharing a post or article, you ended up spending 3 hours interacting with your network.
Everyone has its own time craters. It’s up to you to identify them. The bad news is that you can’t avoid them, but you can definitely minimize them, and every time you do, you will make more space for what is important.
Trade fake wins for real wins
To feel less guilty of procrastination many of us switch from doing the main task to one which demands less brainpower such as email. However, email and other small tasks are small wins that distract you from the big ones.
Try one day to stay focused on the most important task you have before getting taking some small wins.
Turn distractions into tools
Apps such as Twitter, Facebook, Quora, Medium, etc. are tools which bring a lot of joy and pleasure in our life. You don’t have to fully exclude them out of your life.
Rather, try and identify how these digital tools are actually adding value to your life. Once you understand, just schedule how much time you actually need to spend on XYZ Platform to get what you need and what is the most efficient part of the day to do it.
Bonus point — put that in your schedule.
Become a fair-weather fan
The last point attributes mainly to sports fans, but also applicable to any other supporters of competitions.
Watching sports doesn’t only take time but also emotional energy. Seeing your team lose, drains you out of emotional stability. But even if they win, the positive vibe and hype created by it, will not set you up for productivity.
Either way, you will end up in a time crater after a football match.
Therefore, rather than watching every game of the season, try next season to watch games only on special occasions. For example, only when you team is in play-offs, or playing against a big competitor.
During less important games focus on something more important for yourself.
Choose one and start today. Experiment and learn what actually works for you. There is nothing to lose but the upside can be promising.
If you enjoyed these tips and feel like diving more into this topic, I recommending reading the book “Make Time” by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky.