How to Focus in a World of Distractions

The majority of us live in a very demanding world where we need to act fast and produce maximum results in short time frames and with a lot of focus.

To do this, our minds try to do several things at once to maximize our time. However, as we keep saying at BlockSite  – this isn’t productive. In fact, it creates really bad results as the number of stimuli in our brains increases and this makes us lose focus and concentration.

So how do we focus in a world of distractions? In this blog post, we’ll outline what causes us to lose focus, how we can prevent these distractions and give you a 2 week challenge to make sure you start avoiding distractions quickly and easily.

Our Attention Span

For many of us, it doesn’t come naturally to pay attention to one thing for a long period of time. With thanks to technology, lots of information is available to us all at the same time which means, avoiding distractions is harder than ever before. This also means that our attention spans really suffer.

A Harvard Study found that people spend 47% of their waking hours zoned out or distracted. Along with that, the majority of us pay attention for a maximum of 40 seconds before our brains switch to something else. This percentage lowers to 35% when we have applications or phones open with notifications coming through. Crazy right? 

However, the majority of us think that the problem is with the actual distractions. The phone notifications, the TV, a colleague wanting to have a coffee and so on but this isn’t entirely true. The deeper problem, or maybe the root cause of our dwindling attention spans is that our brains are over stimulated. 

We have all come to crave distraction and guess what? Our brains love it. Our brains actually reward us (good old dopamine) for our hyper stimulated state of mind.

So how can we control this? What can we do to pay attention for longer and stop being SO distracted all the time?

Fortunately, with a bit of thought and strategy, we can rebuild our attention spans and generate increased productivity and effectiveness in our day to day lives.

Get More Ideas & Plans

Today, most of us can’t go more than a few minutes, let alone a few hours without checking our digital devices. Some of us are also somewhat addicted to our phones. Our digital devices are often the main cause of distraction in our lives and by just learning how to remove them (not entirely!) from our lives, our attention spans have room to improve.

How? We hear you ask. Well, for example, by removing our phones for say an hour a day from our lives, we have time to focus on other things. By doing this, you’ll notice that your focus is much more controlled – therefore creating longer attention spans on specific tasks. You’ll also notice that by doing this – you have more ideas. Ideas that you usually wouldn’t have time to think of due to distractions.

However, this is not the only reason. Once you remove these devices from your life, your mind is also far less stimulated. This too results in an increase of your attention span and gives your mind a chance to ‘wander.’ When our minds wander, we often think of our best ‘ideas.’ Think about it. When was the last time a great idea struck you? Was it in the shower this morning? Was it while you were lying on the couch staring into space? Either way, you’ll notice it’s when you weren’t actually focused on something specific. 

When we let our attention ‘rest’ – our minds go to 3 main places;

  • The past
  • The present
  • The future

The present is the most productive place to let your mind wander and come up with new ideas. However, the future takes up most of the ‘wandering mind’ time. This is why you’ll often notice when you’re taking a shower – you start planning out your whole day in your head.

So whatever it is for you, that lets your mind ‘rest’ and ‘wander’ make sure you start doing it today. Your best ideas come from that place and it will really help your focus and attention span.

We Need More Space

You might not realise it, in fact you may think the total opposite but we actually don’t need more time in the day. We are already doing too much. Our minds are in overdrive with tasks we need to get done, appointments we must make and just our daily routines that are full of ‘hustle.’

What we all need is more space. More space will enable us to make room to improve our attention spans and focus through letting our minds wander more. Being free from distractions and over stimulation through setting limits and boundaries when using our digital devices. But how can we do this? 

The 2 Week Challenge

This 2 week challenge only consists of 3 things you need to do that will enable you to make your mind a bit less stimulated and allow you notice what happens to your focus and attention during this time. 

  1. Limit Screen Time

Whether you’re working on a computer or reading your Facebook newsfeed, you need to start limiting your screen time. Not permanently, but setting small goals that will enable you to let your mind wander. 

Use BlockSite to help you set specific time frames throughout the day when you can browse websites and apps and when they need to be blocked. This way, you’ll be able to stay focused and have some free time online. 

To begin with, set yourself a limit of an hour a day of screen time (not including your work) and go from there. 

2. Disconnected Sunday

Or any day that suits you, but choose one day a week where you totally disconnect from the digital world and start reconnecting with the real world, the physical world. Go out into the big wide world and do something. What’s your favorite activity when you’re not online? Where is the best place to eat? Go and do those things without being ‘online.’

Additionally, every evening also make sure that you give your digital devices a bedtime. For example, disconnect from the online world from 8pm until 8am the following day.

3. Go Offline

Yes, you read that right. Do something every single day that doesn’t involve staring at your screen. This can be anything from simply lying on the couch thinking about life to reading about something new, or maybe even something that doesn’t interest you that much.

It opens the mind and lets your mind wander to new places. It reduces brain stimulation and enables your attention to ‘rest.’ This is the time your brain will come up with all those grand ideas and plans.

At the end of the 2 week challenge be sure to answer the following questions;

  • How many new ideas do you have?
  • How did your focus change?
  • How many plans did you make?

The results will probably surprise you and make you realise that this type of digital detox is something that you can incorporate into your daily life. You’ll probably even want to.

Good Luck!

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