HOW TO STAY FOCUSSED ON YOUR WORK LIKE A LAPTOP NINJA
There’s something liberating about laughing at others. Usually that’s because it reminds us of when we messed up and had to deal with cringing embarrassment ourselves. Like one time when I was really tired and multitasking like a maniac on my computer and accidentally typed a friend’s name into the update box on Facebook instead of the search box.
I didn’t realise what happened so I had an update out there that said, “Soti is Jane”. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? However, if the person you were looking up was someone you’d just met and were trying to get a date with, I think you’ll agree this wouldn’t be the best way to do it.
This happened many moons ago, and I got a message from Jane the next day. She was not pleased! It looked as though I was announcing that we were in a relationship and we had only just met! Arggghhh ! All my friends saw it, all her friends saw it. I was so embarrassed; Hell I still feel a little embarrassed now. When I told my best friend the next day what happened, he just laughed his ass off.
Multitasking is here to stay
For many of us sat on our computers, it can seem like we’re in a never-ending whirlpool where everything is fighting for our attention. Notifications from our phones, people walking over to say hello, appointment reminders from our calendars, etc. Even though we’re doing lots of things, we often feel stressed, overwhelmed and ultimately unsatisfied.
As you’re reading this, maybe you’re thinking that my Facebook blunder would never happen to you. I hope not. However, if another part of you is thinking, hey, that could happen to anyone, read on to find out the five things I do to stay focused in this digital world.
1) Check your workspace
When we get an email, or hear the ring of a message on our phone, we get a hit of dopamine in our brains. That’s why it’s so difficult to tear ourselves away from our phones sometimes. So, before I jump in and get cracking, I like to prepare to NOT be distracted.
I turn my phone off before I start, put my computer in aeroplane mode and listen to chill out music. We’ve all got unique circumstances, so do whatever you can in your surroundings. If you work in an office, tell your colleagues you don’t want to be disturbed for X amount of time.
2) What’s the point?
Remind yourself “why” you’re doing what you’re doing. Just like you wouldn’t leave your house without knowing where you wanted to go, I remind myself why I’m completing this task in the first place. I get clear on my purpose, so that 15–20 minutes down the line, when I’ve somehow ended up on social media again, I’m more likely to recall the bigger picture and what will happen if I don’t get the work done.
3) Gas in the tank
Many of us take for granted that our energy levels will always be there when we need them, but we don’t have a never-ending supply. When our energy levels are low, it’s really hard to concentrate and that’s just a physiological fact. Unless you’re like Popeye and have a can of spinach you can suddenly pop open and munch on, you’ll just have to work with what you’ve got.
When I’m tired, I have to be really picky about how I go about solving those pesky problems. Breaking down tasks into smaller chunks definitely helps this. Best of all, it also gives me that awesome feeling of building momentum bit by bit, as I tick off tasks from my checklist.
4) Staying on point
Much has been said about the Pomodoro technique and I must admit, I’m an advocate. This is when you time yourself and work for 25 minutes on just one thing. After the time’s up, you take a five-minute break, reflect and start all over again. I like to have a timer on my computer so that I can see the seconds ticking down. Many times, when I’m about to be distracted, I see the clock ticking down on my computer and realise I just don’t have the time to mess around.
5) Take control
According to the Urban dictionary, screen sucking is “to browse the Internet for hours without purpose, as if in a trance.” I’m definitely guilty of this myself. Sometimes I’ll look something up on the Internet, only to find myself endlessly clicking link after link to a never-ending myriad of websites. In that trance-like state, I could easily lose hours! Don’t be a slave to the Internet, guard your time like a hound dog. There are many things we can buy in this world but time isn’t one of them.
I’ve talked about five elements that are crucial to helping you stay focused when working on your computer: workspace, purpose, energy, tools and control. Ultimately staying focused is an effort in and of itself. If you don’t put the effort into staying focused, someone or something else will surely steal your focus. Knowing where your weak spots are also helps. I answered a questionnaire featured on the Harvard Business Review website that showed me my bad habits when it comes to being distracted. It’s created by Edward M. Halliwell, a psychiatrist who specialises in Attention deficit disorders.
These are just a few tips to help you stay focused like a ninja, do you have any others to add?
Let me know in the comments below!