It’s happened again—you were writing that report, but then you took a break to check your email. Also Twitter. And Facebook. What can you do when a world of discovery and distraction is at your fingertips?
Sure, it’s not a bad thing that our lives have become hyper-connected. The doors to exploration have opened wide online, making us more flexible, curious, and inventive. But at the same time, it can make it difficult to complete a task when you’re not totally focused. Instead of concentrating on one thing, you’re jumping from email to email, post to post, and easily put off track.
Sometimes, we aren’t even the ones to blame. Thanks to changing workplace and social expectations, folks often anticipate a prompt response. And those notifications are so enticing! It will only take a minute to check what they mean…
What were we talking about? Oh, that’s right—staying focused!
We’re here to help with a few tips, tricks and apps to help you concentrate and turn the computer into your virtual zen zone.
Set the mood
Perhaps one of the reasons why you go searching for distraction is because you legitimately need a break. Feeling uncomfortable at your workstation can be a real drag, and it’s natural to want to shift your focus elsewhere.
Perhaps it’s not your task that’s giving you a headache, but your setup. If you feel blinded by your computer screen, think about downloading f.lux, which adapts your screen brightness according to the time of day. If on a phone, double check your settings or download a filter app.
Block out the noise
Some people need silence to work. Other people need what they would consider a health level of noise.
The gentle hum of instrumental music can trigger creativity while helping you zero in on a single activity. Close your random tabs, forget about email and plug your earbuds in. Subscription music service Focus at Will promises to boost your concentration with background music. You can also search “concentration” or “study music” on your favorite listening platforms like YouTube and Spotify.
Searching for something a little different? If you work alone or from a home office, you might crave the office environment to keep you on track. Enter Coffitivity, a site that invites you to listen to the ambient noises of such locations as a “Texas Teahouse” or “Lunchtime Lounge” Perhaps a little noise can help you shut out those inner voices (and maybe even outer ones too) and stay on your A game.
Sometimes, you have to set limits.
If you think you can’t keep yourself from visiting certain sites or checking your phone, you may need to give yourself some hard boundaries. The Google Chrome productivity extension StayFocusd will help you limit the time you spend on certain websites. Similarly, Freedom can help you tune out noises across your computer and smartphone. For phone users, apps like Moment help track which apps you’re using most and coach you into different habits.