Avoiding Distractions and Getting in the Zone

Your phone beeps… the kids ask for a snack… someone rings the door bell… the next work email comes in… someone messages you on Teams or Slack… the dog starts barking…

Working from home was supposed to be quiet and peaceful. Wtf happened?

Well for starters, we had unrealistic expectations. Let’s be honest, things were never all that quiet to begin with. We’ve just added in a ton more distractions and made it a lot more convenient for them to distract us. Right now… as I’m writing this… I can see the little light on my phone blinking because I have a message…

It’s already distracting me from writing this and all it is… all it is, is a little light that is flashing every 3 FREAKING SECONDS!!@#$!

So how do you actually get any real work done throughout the week? How do you make forward progress on things you want to accomplish without being pulled in every other direction? Read on!

There are literally millions of distractors in our life and they all play on different senses. For example, we have visual distractors like if we see someone walk past our window in the middle of the day, or an email notification popup on our computer, (or that little fucking light that keeps blinking on my phone… OMG!).

We have audible distractors, like when we hear the kids or if the dog starts barking. We have distractors that relate to our sense of touch or comfortableness. Is it too cold? Too hot?

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All of these different distractors are ways to throw you off your game and keep you from getting nothing done and feeling even more stressed than ever before. but… the best way to fight these off is to start building tricks that defeat each MAJOR distractor.

I say MAJOR because you’ll waste all day trying to remove every distraction ever. Don’t be a perfectionist. Focus on the ones that give you the biggest ROI. Here’s a list of my distractors and how I fight them off and get INTO THE ZONE.

  1. My Kids – love them to death, can’t work with them at home.
    • The trick – promise them if they are good, I will #maketime to play with them that night.
  2. My Phone – beeps and buzzes all day long.
    • The trick – Silent mode and flip it upside down so I can’t see it. (finally the blinking is gone…)
  3. Emails/Messages – emails are endless…
    • The trick – Set my status to DND, turn off Outlook, and flat out ignore people. Sorry bout ya!
  4. Uncomfortableness – sometimes it’s too cold or too hot.
    • The trick – A cheap 20 dollar floor heater and mini-fan. I use them as needed.
  5. Little Noises in the House – the kids playing, cars driving by, my wife coming home on lunch.
    • The trick – Headphones and music loud enough it’s all I can hear.
  6. Other tasks or things on my mind – Often times there’s just other thoughts and ideas that can creep into our heads
    • The trick – Set a timer and focus on staying in the zone until the timer goes off. Then once it goes off, indulge for a bit. Bonus trick – write things down and then put that list somewhere you can’t see it until after you’re timer goes off.

These are all examples of distractors in my life that I’ve had to come up with little tricks for to block them out. Working from home didn’t actually make anything less distracting but I have found ways to get a ton of work done just by simply getting into my zone.

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I aim to reach this zone where I’m at my peak performance a few times a day. I try to setup some blocks of time and know what I want to get done in that block. Then I go through and pull out all of my tricks. Headphones in, coffee filled up, heater on, DND set for my messages, email closed, phone upside down, each and every trick I’ve got, I put to use.

Then I get in my zone and go to work.

I would love to hear other people’s tricks on how they get into the zone! What kind of distractions do you face on a daily basis and what tricks work to help you get in the zone?

2 thoughts on “Avoiding Distractions and Getting in the Zone”

  1. I realise I haven’t really dealt with the distractors themselves, but have evolved to work in spurts of whatever few uninterrupted minutes I can get. I mean, it’s not ideal, but I feel that I’m exercising a muscle somehow. And when the time comes when I have hours at a stretch, then it becomes that much more easier to focus.

    Or maybe I’m just looking at the bright side lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nothing wrong with finding the silver lining Stuart! It sounds like you’re making the most of it. I’ve found doing the Deep Work, where I really need to focus and keep my train of thought running in one direction, really gets easier if I can do it in longer chunks. Sometimes I struggle if I have to work a few minutes here and then a few there.

    Like

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