We are living in an age of our attention being stolen from us at every possible opportunity. Expert on the topic and author of 'Stolen Focus', Hari argues that our constant switching between tasks is at the root of the attention crisis we're facing.
There’s been such an enormous increase in the volume of new information available every second that we’ve become transfixed by things that are “very fast and very temporary, like a Twitter feed.” The more information we inhale, he says, the less we’re able to focus on any one piece of it.
Our brains aren’t designed to absorb so much at a time: In one study, 136 students took a test; some had their phones turned off, while others received occasional text messages. Those who received messages scored about 20 percent lower than those who didn’t.
One of the best ways out of distraction is finding your way into flow. Here are 9 (free) straight forward ways to get more of what you love doing done in 4 hours than 97% of people do in 4 weeks through flowing!
01: Start your day early
Fix your schedule to wake up as early as you can, without making yourself too exhausted to enjoy your evenings.
To create a morning routine that’ll keep you motivated during the day, try these simple things:
• Think about 3 things you’re grateful for
• Drink a litre of water
• Read a section of a book on a topic you've wanted to learn more about
• Have a morning walk
• Make a breakfast you love which will stabilise your blood sugar
If you’re interested in learning more about eating in a way which prevents dreaded energy crashes then definitely check out Jessie, a.k.a The Glucose Goddess, on Instagram.
02: Interrupt distractions as they occur
Before you settle for any focused work, modify your environment so you are set up best to be able to concentration.
Try these hacks:
• Set a timer before undertaking tasks
• Turn off all notifications (‘Do Not Disturb’ is a game changer)
• Focus on a single task at a time
This will no doubt double your productivity!
03: Work during your peak hour
Identify when you’re most energised and what you need to get into that state of flow (read more about flow later in this post at point 7). When you begin to learn your own peak times and environments, you can schedule your most complex tasks for when you know you’re going to be best able to tackle them.
During your peak hour:
• Begin with the hardest task first
• Have a notebook to hand so you can write out any distracting thoughts that come to you and know you’ll get round to them once you’ve finished what you’re trying to focus on - this way, you can soothe your brain by reassuring it that you won’t forget what it’s telling you is important, and you can go back to the task at hand without that niggling ‘but what about x, y, z?’ voice bugging you in the back of your mind
When you put energy into improving the efficiency on undertaking your tasks, the benefits are long term and pay off more than you can quantify. It can take a bit of retraining to begin with and constant awareness whenever you want to get into your flow but you will never regret the effort you put in! The fruits of your labour will be so much sweeter, trust us.
Spend 15 minutes at the end of your day making a list of 3 most important tasks for the next day. This method is sworn by by Grace Beverly, founder of sustainable activewear brand TALA and the number 1 fitness app, Shreddy.
Hear how she structures her day, managing to run 2 companies and spend plenty of time with her loved ones and on her hobbies here.
05: Write out your daily to-do-list at the start of your working day
As well as your 3 main focuses for the day, which you will have planned the night before, make your to do, keeping the lists separate so short and actionable tasks don’t distract you from the big 3. Instead, schedule time into your day to tackle the quicker, smaller tasks, all in 1 go.
Make sure these smaller to-dos are:
• Have a sense of urgency and importance
06: Avoid multitasking at all costs
Focus your attention on one goal at a time. We know we’re almost repeating ourselves at this point but it is so important, probably the most important out of everything outlined here and is the easiest to start to do, immediately. It’ll also have the biggest impact on improving the quality of your work.
It’ll help you:
• To be less overwhelmed
• Boost your productivity
• Be prouder of your outputs
Energy flows best when it is directed.
07: Learn how to build flow state
Getting into a state of flow is essential for when you want to reach your creative depths and achieve a high level of satisfaction with your work. When you’re flowing, time stops feeling linear and distractions are not a concern, you’re simply in the moment and loving what you’re doing.
Here is how to create a flow state after you’ve picked a task which will help you on your path to achieving a goal that matters to you:
• Set a timer
(start with 20 minutes, then once you’ve mastered it you can work up to 40 / 60 min stints)
• Find somewhere to work where you feel comfortable and energise, minimise anything that could pull your attention away
• Take 10 minutes break in between stints and repeat until you finish the task
08: Set your deadline
People say that we work 5 times faster with deadlines.
If you set a deadline for 4 hours, it'll get done in 4 hours.
• Get clear on what you want to achieve
• Prepare your space (in your calendar and physically)
• Remember the steps outlined in point 7 and GO!
Deadlines help you improve your systems, whether you achieve what you wanted to within them or not (in fact, you learn the most when you fail so don’t view your failures as negative, but rather as more interesting opportunities for you to grow).
09: Learn how to boost your mood
When you feel overwhelmed, which we all do at times, think about what you can do to lift your spirits. This will, of course, be totally individual. For us at Favourite Positions, we revert to these simple things to make us feel calmer:
🥤 Drink Peak, all-natural, sparkling beverages designed for your mind! Our favourite at the moment is the new Peach Rose (we’re so proud to be partnered with Peak as they’re sponsoring series 02 of the Favourite Positions podcast. You can use the code FAVOURITEPOSITIONS at checkout to get 30% off your next order and if you haven’t tried them yet, we cannot recommend that you do enough, what are you waiting for?!)
🚶🏼♀️ Take breaks + get outside, walking (ideally where there is some greenery but if you’re in an urban environment then try looking out for interesting buildings on your stroll and appreciate things around you that you wouldn’t usually notice when you’re simply getting from A to B)
🎶 Listen to (and dance to) your favourite song