Your brain is a massively complicated set of circuits—with a glitch in the system. This glitch can make it difficult to get anything accomplished during the day. You might have noticed this problem. It’s called procrastination. You’ve got a million things to do and you end up wasting hours on Facebook.
This isn’t necessarily your fault—it’s the software in your brain being attacked by malicious code. You’re bombarded by viruses that interfere with your ability to get things done. Luckily, you don’t need to be an expert programmer to solve the problem. You just have to adopt the right habits.
Find out how to block the attacks on your brain that keep you from reaching your full potential.
The Human Brain is Hardwired for Easy Distraction
First, you need to realize that your brain is already coded for disaster. The brain is essentially driven by situations. You react to events instead of staying focused on the outcome. For example, when you’re thirsty, you go get a glass of water. But, if you were to bring a large water bottle to your desk, you wouldn’t need to get up in the first place.
That’s the difference between reacting to events and planning for the outcome. While staying hydrated isn’t crucial to your success, it does illustrate the main point—most people allow events to get in the way of their goals.
They can’t reach their desired outcome because they spend too much time on the trivial events. Basically, those trivial events are distractions. The distractions are the malicious code that prevents your brain from carrying out the right actions at the right time.
Distractions Easily Take Priority Over Everything Else
The problem with the distractions is that they often take top priority. Just like a computer virus, they take priority over the software and operating system.
Say you have several things you need to get done. You need to complete a report, get lunch, and check your Facebook page. Even if your report is late and your stomach is growling, you’ll likely go straight to Facebook and kill time.
So, prioritizing your tasks for the day is helpful, but all that prioritization goes out the window the minute your brain is overrun by a virus.
How do you solve this issue? How do you fix the glitch? By developing the right habits.
Habits Can Help You Block the Viruses from Killing Productivity
Viruses are best treated with a proactive solution, instead of waiting for them to infect your computer and slow your operating system to a halt. The same is true with distractions.
You need to use positive habits to help you block these distractions. You need to take steps to limit the occurrence of these events.
Which habits do you need? I’ve come up with a few suggestions:
Learn to Say No
The first habit is saying no to all other events. When a distraction arises, you need to say “no” and get back to your priority project.
Reject everything else and focus on the task at hand. This is actually one of the hardest habits to develop – which is why I’ve listed it first. You may even want to place a Post-it note on your desk to remind you to just say “no” to any distraction that keeps from your work.
This also includes taking on additional work, helping people with their problems, or anything else that interferes with your original plans for the day.
Choose the One Main Task
While I’ve drawn similarities between distractions and viruses, there is a major difference between the way your brain works and the way a computer works. A computer processor can multitask. The more powerful the processor, the more calculations it can handle. But your brain can’t do this.
You are unable to run multiple programs at once. You need to focus on one main task at a time. This means no multitasking.
You need to get in the habit of choosing one main task at the start of the day. This task always takes priority over everything else.
Don’t wait until lunch time to choose this task. You should make this decision at the start of the day. If possible, you should even start thinking about this the night before.
Get Rid of the Clutter
The next habit that you need to adopt is getting rid of clutter. Every once in a while, you need to clean your computer and delete old files. You need to do the same with your work area.
Keep your files organized. Don’t leave items on your desk that are not needed for your current task. You want to remove anything that could potentially distract you from the task at hand.
Physical items are not the only form of clutter you need to get rid of. You also need to remove clutter from your browser and phone.
Start with your browser. If you use the Internet for work, don’t use the same computer for personal use. Don’t bookmark your favorite sites on your work computer. Don’t log into Facebook and other social media sites.
Next, you’ll need to do the same with your phone, which can be a little harder.
Learn to Control Your Phone
Most people let their phone control their lives. Every time it beeps or buzzes, you need to pull it out of your pocket or purse and take a look.
This constant distraction is a major nuisance.
If you don’t want your phone to control your life, turn off notifications. Don’t let your phone make noise every time you get an email. You don’t need constant notifications sent to your phone.
Simply turning these notifications off can help you keep the phone put away. The most effective solution is to turn your phone off during the work day. This isn’t always an option. But, if you don’t need people to reach during the day, you don’t really need your phone on.
The bottom line is that the biggest threat to your productivity is the distractions all around you. Learn to say no, don’t let your phone control you. Eliminate the clutter and focus on one main task for the day.
These steps won’t always come easy. You’ll need to continue reinforcing positive behavior. Habits require repetition. So keep at it. Habits, like anti-virus software, need to be used every day.
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.