Stay focused during information overload
More and more information is send to you at an ever increasing rate. Information overload is not new but is an increasing issue.
So why is it an issue? Distraction. Or in other words, lack of focus.
Did you ever experience this? You were working on something. Then you got a call, answered it and talked for a bit. After the call you go back to your work and you’re like: “What was I even doing?”
Our brain is very, very bad at keeping track of multiple things at once. So as soon as you answered the call your brain shifted to the call and dropped all it was remembering of the previous task.
After a distraction it takes a lot of time to really get back into the flow on the previous task. You also make more mistakes as you might oversee a critical step of the process of the task, due to the distraction. Many car accidents are due to people getting distracted during driving.
The solution? Stop the information overload and bring back focus!
How to do that? Below are the ongoing things I do, and you can do as well:
Switch off e-mail pings and notifications on pc
When I’m outside of my mail program I don’t know when I receive an email. This is perfect. You are never distracted again by incoming email. A few times a day (I try to limit myself to twice a day) you schedule time to check and respond to email.
Switch off email auto sync on your mobile
I never receive a notification on my mobile of any email. This gives a lot of relaxation. Especially outside office hours. I hated getting an email outside office hours, seeing it on my phone and then it got stuck in my head. Bye bye relax time.
Any time I want I can still read my mail on the phone by doing a manual sync.
Switch off notifications on specific Whatsapp groups
Did you know this was possible? You can turn off notifications for just one group. So you still get notifications of people that you want, but not from that group that has dozens of messages a day. When you go into Whatsapp you still see them as unread, so that way you can catch-up when you want to.
Want to really get serious about focus?
Implement focus days (or at least periods of at least 2 hours)
I have two focus days a week and it is just amazing what you can get done in those days.
Schedule this focus time in your agenda.
During this time you:
Set your phone on don’t disturb
Meaning you don’t hear or see anything, not even vibrate.
Stop email sync on your pc
Most email programs have the option to “work offline”. Sometimes closing the app is not an option, because you need to look-up information in your mailbox. And in my case my agenda is in the same app and I still want to get my agenda notifications.
Don’t browse online
I use a Chrome plugin StayFocusd to actually stop my browser from working for a period of time. You can set the program to still allow access to certain webpages. For example, I use an online task management program which I want to be able to use while having my focus time.
Plan tasks ahead
Before you do the focus time, plan what you are going to do. The tasks must be defined so clearly that you can go full on execution mode, without having to think about what you need to do. I’m writing this during my focus time and my tasks were, write two blog articles and two emails. Crystal clear, I can just sit behind my screen and write away and don’t worry about anything else.
I am doing all of the above and it really works wonders for the amount of work you get done. Do I always work 100% focused? No, I’m not perfect. Sometimes there is something going on in my mind that keeps distracting me. But I’m a lot more focused than I used to be. Besides, practice makes perfect.
Most business owners I talk to about this shrink back in horror. “My clients won’t accept this.” “I need to be reachable.” What is your reason for not implementing focus time? Let me know in the below comments. I challenge you to come up with a reason for which I can’t figure out a fix.
See you around.
All the best,