It’s hard to stay focused in today’s world. Nearly everything we do is dictated by our online life, whether it be personal, professional or recreational. When it comes to doing real, creative work, it isn’t easy to step away and connect with our true innovative selves.
Technology aside, there are the distractions of life. Is that your mother calling? You should probably answer. Are you going to eat a sandwich for lunch today? You should probably think about that for a good fifteen minutes. In fact, let’s google “best sandwich” and see what happens. Work can wait.
If this sounds familiar, fear not. You are only human. At the end of the day, your workload is your responsibility and yours alone. Here are some effective ways to get back on track and stay focused in a world of increasing distractions.
Widely considered one of the original forms of focus training, meditation has taken on many forms in today’s world. With the rise of meditation apps, podcasts and books, it can be overwhelming. Throw in the celebrity-lauded, greatly monetized Transcendental Meditation, an essential part of creativity for Hollywood giants like David Lynch and Jerry Seinfeld, and you’ve got a plethora of dizzying options. Ultimately, any form of meditation will help. Why? Because it is mental rest. A chance for your brain to straighten itself out. Like a deep slumber, only you are awake. By adding meditation to your daily routine, you’re giving your creativity a chance to gain the strength it needs to flourish. Try it, and stick with it. You’ll thank us later.
Close your tabs
Say you’re trying to essay like this one. If you’re like me, on any given day you might have more than just your writing tab open: Facebook, Twitter, email, news, banking info, or maybe a YouTube video or two. Close them. Do it now. Even if you start answering one email during your essay, you’re giving less focus back into it every time you return. Add all of your tabs up in a single working day, and that’s not very much attention left for what really matters: the work!
This may seem obvious, but for many if us, disconnecting does not come naturally. Think of all the ways people can reach you every day. Phone, email, social media, Tinder, the list goes on seemingly forever. Consider turning your phone to airplane mode and logging out of your socials while you’re working. What’s more important, a dinner plan or your masterpiece?
Give yourself a soundtrack
I cannot imagine what my writing life would be like without a playlist of ambient music. There is something about a constant, controlled sound that makes the world around me melt away. Much like how a white noise machine works for sleep, music can help control your environment and keep you focused. Check out our focus playlist here.
Set a schedule
For the self-employed, these are words to live by, but It doesn’t matter where you work or who you work for: if you set a schedule you are going to see results. As an experiment, set a certain time of day, every day, for creative work. No emails, no paying bills, no meaningless organizing of your contact list, just real, deep creative work. Repetition may seem counterintuitive to creativity, but there is something to be said about working the muscle and getting it done.
Re-think your internal clock
According to this article in Scientific American, if you are a morning person, you’re likely to experience more creativity at night. Same goes for night people: wake up early and reap the benefits of your brain’s ability to get creative at the most unexpected times. Why? In short, we have less ability to focus, and more openness to different ideas and possibilities. Our advice? Get creative when you’re least likely to focus, and use your peak hours to do the more task-oriented work like editing, refining and summarizing.