I normally read my work email in the morning to jumpstart my workday. This is also the habit of many people I know. However, A few minutes into reading my mail, I would catch myself browsing Facebook or window shopping. I bet this happens to you, too.
Being distracted is a normal phenomena specially now that there are numerous visuals trying to catch our attention: pop ups, text message, alerts and more. This is common in today’s world but takes away a part of our daily goals and affects our bigger goals.
First, why do we get distracted easily? According to LIVE SCIENCE, “Distractions turn on different part of our brains and do so more quickly than the daily grind of paying attention, neuroscientists have discovered.” Now we know why something glittery attracts our attention so fast.
How can we maintain productive when we are surrounded by distractions?
Have you seen a good magic trick before in person? The magician shows you a sponge ball and makes it disappear in front of your eyes and all there is left to say to explain the mystery is that the hand is quicker then the eye. Are the hands really quicker than the eye? Unfortunately, a magician never repeats and never reveals.
The sponge ball is like your daily goals or tasks, it just disappears without you noticing it. Those pop ups, social media alerts and discount notification are the magician’s hand gestures, and backup dancers that drive you away from where you need your attention to be. No, the hand isn’t quicker than the eye. In fact, the magician’s hands are slow but it can hypnotize you the way those discount notice leads you to your shopping cart.
Magic is my hobby, I should have a few ideas about focus and attention management. In my corporate lectures, I use what I know about magic and it’s science to talk about focus, attention and productivity.
We all get distracted. Like I said, it’s normal, the good thing though is there are ways to increase our productivity while being surrounded by distractions. We are already half the battle as we have already recognized that we can be distracted from where our attention should be.
Here are the other tips to manage attention:
- Control your environment. Be in a place where there is less noise. Since many are WFH, we can inform the people around us about our work schedule but if distractions can’t be avoided, most likely, they are not distractions, they are family.
- Use an analogue planner. I use pen and paper, this takes away time from using to much screen and avoids unnecessary exposure to temptation. I spend a few minutes planning the day, listing things on the list as well as crossing finished tasks.
- Compose email on paper. Yes! Do your draft on paper. This takes away exposure on screen. Once you have your thoughts listed down, it’s going to be faster on screen.
- Manage your thoughts. Brains are made to wander, that’s the beautiful thing about being human. Some people will say control your thoughts but I think we can’t, we can manage our thoughts by acknowledging it’s presence, and keeping note of it while we refocus back to our goal.
Focus and attention can be a tricky matter. when it comes to magic, allow magicians to take control because our main goal when watching magic show is to be astonished and not to solve a puzzle. At work, we can focus on our attention management strategies so we can remain productive.