Do you lose your focus and concentration very often while working on something? If so, it’s going to affect your productivity seriously. You may have read a lot of things like switching off your phone and internet, going to a quite room and stuff like that regarding reducing the distractions. This article isn’t about those ordinary tips but actually about the real root cause of distractions and real action steps you need to take so that you can achieve real results.
Understanding the Cause of Distractions
People don’t have time so they just want to quick fix everything. But this doesn’t work always. You need to follow the right approach.
The first step is to understand the cause of your problem, and then take proper actions. Generally, you may find that distractions result from outer causes like phone calls, someone comes to you, disturbances because of nearby noises, email/social networking sites’ notifications, or other factors like that. It is not very difficult to deal with these types.
There are also the distractions which are more of the inside than outside. They are your own temptations and thoughts going on in the head. These are more powerful than outside distractions.
Most people focus mainly on getting rid of outside ones but very few actually understand that chief cause lies in the mind and actually work on it.
Let me help you understand inner or mental distractions.
When you are working on something and you feel the temptation to leave and do it later, that is procrastination, is a common type of inner distraction. Your mind gives you such a convincing explanation and reasoning to why you should leave it for future, that you happily stop working.
But from your experiences, you also know that doing it later is never a better option. Sometimes you even land into trouble because of this instead of getting anything done.
At other times you also feel attracted towards doing some other work instead of the current. For example, you are studying mathematics and you feel that it is better to study physics. But when you start studying physics, you get distracted towards some other subject.
At the end, nothing gets enough time for completion. This kind of distraction is hard to control and even detect. You find it justified and reasonable, after all, you are still working (though on something different). While in procrastination, you stop working and take rest or do something fun. But in both cases, you get to feel the desire to stop doing the current thing.
Still higher level distractions are also there like fear (fear of failure) which can stop you from taking any action at all. But fear is a totally different thing basically. I will write about it in a separate article. Fear results when mind detects any danger and wants to avoid it. But what we are dealing with here is ordinary distractions which result because the mind wants to avoid effort.
Working of the Mind
The key here is to understand how your mind works. It wants to save you from any effort in the present even if it is useful for future. But if it finds something interesting then it wants more of that.
It is clever too. If you are mentally weak at controlling it then easy procrastination like “I should just sleep an extra hour and do it later” will make you leave your work.
But when you are determined then mind uses more complicated tricks as mentioned above in which other options, except you’re working at, seem to be better.
Again, when the mind gets to know that there is any emergency, it forces you to take suitable action. For example, suppose just before the exam your preparation is very bad and you’re studying madly. Your reading speed becomes so fast, it seems like you are grasping everything so quickly which you never understood earlier. At that time even if there is noise or other disturbances, nothing affects you. You are just lost in what you are doing.
Similarly, imagine when you are playing your favorite video game, how do you feel? Does any phone call disturbs you? You may not even care to pick the phone because you are so busy at having fun.
Are you able to relate what I mean?
It is your mind which is responsible for everything. Outside distractions are more of excuses actually. When your mind wants to do it, whether it is hard fun or any emergency, nothing will distract it.
If you are more concerned then let me tell you that the term mind I used in above description is actually subconscious mind. Whereas the mind you call “I think” is the conscious mind which is under your own control.
How to Handle the Distractions the Smart Way
Now you know the chief cause behind is the subconscious mind. You can also understand somewhat that if you can control it, you can succeed at anything you want.
If I ask you for a plan to become a millionaire, can you give me one?
But why everyone isn’t a millionaire or highly successful?
The answer is that many people know what should be done but very few are able to actually do that. It is so because not everyone can do what their conscious mind tells as there is resistance from the subconscious mind.
Now you probably can relate that the key to success is controlling your subconscious mind. Just think what if you are able to do your work with that much interest when you play a video game?
The subconscious mind is very powerful. If it is on your side you can achieve anything. But if it is working on its own ways, it leads to an ordinary life.
Here comes the hard truth for you.
It is very difficult to control your subconscious mind. It’s really very hard.
But there is another way around. You can program it in such a way that it automatically supports what your conscious mind tells. But it takes time and I will discuss that in future articles.
But I also know that you want something you can apply right away. Here are some tips I have learned from my own experiences.
Analyze Your Mind
You need to analyze what distracts you most. Is it the normal outer disturbances like phone calls, email notifications, people or noises? If so you can take simple steps right away to switch off your phone, notifications, go to a quite peaceful place or ask people not to disturb.
But after you get rid of outer distractions, are you able to concentrate on your work? If yes then it is good news for you. If not, then what still distracts you? Do you feel sleepy when you start or your thoughts wander here and there instead of focusing on work?
Get the clear picture of it.
Training Yourself and Your Subconscious Mind
I am assuming that your chief distractions are inner ones because outer distractions can be easily dealt with. So here is the step by step process you have to go through in order to train your subconscious mind.
(1) Get rid of all outer distractions. Go to a peaceful place.
(2) Take proper sleep at night so that you don’t get convinced easily by your mind’s excuse of having the need to sleep.
(3) Eat something. Don’t overeat. Idea is that you don’t feel hungry during the work. This way you cut off another excuse of mind.
(4) Have a plan before so that you don’t get stuck during the task which breaks the concentration. This step is very important. If you have decided everything beforehand then things get done quickly and you’ll notice that mind starts to enjoy that. Something in your favor starts happening at this step.
(5) Fix the duration of your job beforehand. Don’t set the time much larger than your usual habits. If you generally work better for 2 hours, then set that time, instead of 4 hours. People start with fixing greater time which actually backfires.
Understand your mind. If it knows that work is going to finish early then it will help you. But if it notices that work time is large it will resist right from the start and will make it difficult for you to carry on. Increase the time gradually if you need to.
(6) After the completion of the task give yourself some kind of reward. Decide it before starting to work so that mind gets the motivation to finish it. If feeling sleepy more often is your problem then you can tell your mind “After finishing this, I’ll sleep.” Or you can play your favorite video game.
(7) Once you decide to work for some fixed time or goal, don’t quit in the middle because of procrastination or mental distractions. Quitting in the middle develops the negative habit of your subconscious mind.
You can think of it like there is a battle going on between your subconscious mind and conscious mind. The result depends upon which one dominates. If you quit the job in the middle (before pre-decided goal) you let your subconscious mind win the game.
It gets stronger at defeating your conscious mind every time you quit. But if you determine to stick to it, you make your conscious mind stronger and develop a positive mental habit.
(8) But I know you may probably have already developed the negative habits by quitting many times. For breaking this habit you need to start with very small goals to complete without giving up, small enough that you are sure that you won’t quit.
Don’t worry about them to be too small, initially, it is important that you break the negative habits first. After that, you can gradually set bigger goals.
(9) If these tips and techniques aren’t working for you even if you give your best try, then you need to reconsider again what you are doing.
It happens many times that people get into something they don’t really want to do neither they care about it. If you are working on something just for money, or just because others are doing it without your own interest, you are on the wrong path. You cannot get better at it. If you do, it would be an uphill struggle.
Do something that has a solid reason in your life, only then you can motivate yourself.
This article was aimed at giving you the real understanding of how and why distractions happen. I shared the ways to just trick your subconscious mind so that you can finish your work. Here you are not controlling it, as I said before, it is very hard.
I hope I made the picture a bit clearer for you.