05 Oct How To Stay Focused in the Digital Era
Staying focused on one task at a time is becoming increasingly more difficult in the 24/7 digital era. Our demanding digital devices and immediate ‘Googling’ culture have helped erode our attention span so extensively that now goldfish can concentrate for longer than we can. Yes, really! Most of us sit down to study or work surrounded by multiple sources of distraction and it’s not giving us a fighting chance. As focus is a finite resource which requires glucose, research suggests that for every subsequent task you embark on, you become increasingly less effective. Makes sense, right? The tasks you start at the beginning of the day with a full supply of energy tend to feel easier than those you tackle last thing in the evening. But this also means that by the time you return to your work after a distraction, you have less energy and glucose available, adversely affecting your productivity.
Wondering how to stay focused when you’re up against so many things vying for your attention? We’ve got some great digital detox inspired tips to help you drown out the distractions and get the job done!
How to stay focused? Digital detox!
Switch off your notifications
New research from Nottingham Trent University reveals that a third of our smartphone notifications actually worsen our mood. In addition to being an unhelpful and often constant distraction (especially if you’re member of a group chat), notifications can also make you feel hostile, upset, nervous, afraid or ashamed. Needless to say, that’s not the best motivation while you’re trying to focus. So, why not switch them off entirely while you’re working?
Banish your smartphone
If switching off your notifications isn’t radical enough and you find yourself still reaching for your smartphone, it’s time to go cold turkey. Banish your smartphone from your working area and the old saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ applies. If you can’t see your device, you’re much less likely to make a conscious effort to get up and find it.
Take screen breaks
Although you’ve banished your other digital devices, you’re probably using a laptop or desktop computer to work on. Focusing on screens for long periods of time is hard on the eyes and often leaves us with pounding headaches. It’s important to take breaks when you’ve earned them and rest your eyes and mind by doing something offline. If you check your phone during your break, you’re simply switching from one screen to another. This keeps your mind active and your eyes engaged, further draining your energy levels. Commit to taking real breaks where you drink a glass of water and get some fresh air.
Multitasking for improved productivity is a myth! Our digital devices encourage us to flick from task to task, making us believe that we’re being extra efficient. But in fact, this worsens our work quality and the time it takes for us to complete our to-do list. Prevent yourself from becoming involved in other projects simultaneously and start with your most demanding task in the morning (when your energy levels are highest).
So, there you have it. If you were wondering how to stay focused on work or your studies, we hope to have shared some simple techniques to increase your productivity and reduce your digital distractions. If you’re still finding it difficult to focus, why not try a digital detox over a few days? Our retreat guests always see their ability to focus on one task at a time greatly increase after a few days spent off-grid.
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