Do you have trouble cutting through all the noise of life? The people. Their opinions. The screaming screens. The responsibilities and tasks. The house. The job. So much is clamoring for our attention.
Today I am offering my ten top tips for eliminating distractions and also giving away a time management gift package that includes a subscription to a brand new mentorship course taught by my friends Ruth Schwenk, Courtney Joseph, and me called Silencing the Noise: How to Hear the Whispers of God Through the Loudness of Life. (You can check out the course by clicking here.) More on the giveaway and how to enter below. For now, here are my top ten tips for eliminating distractions.
- Put it on your schedule.
Sometimes the biggest barrier to actually focusing in on a project and getting it done is the fact that we don’t treat it as seriously as any other appointment. We entertain thoughts of cleaning out that disastrous closet, finally organizing the garage, or tackling that pile of paperwork that is staring us in the face and making us feel defeated. But when we approach these things with a mindset that says, “I’ll get around to it sooner or later”, well, later always wins! And usually, later never comes. So set an appointment to finally undertake the task or project. Log it into your digital calendar or write it on your paper planner, however you roll. Then, treat it as seriously as any other appointment. You wouldn’t decide to skip the dentist visit at the last minute because you know you would be charged a fee. Take this appointment just as seriously.
- Make your phone behave.
So much of our lack of focus is the constant beeping, buzzing, and chiming of our phones. At the very least, place it in do not disturb mode. Or, you may opt to place it in a different room all together so you won’t be distracted by it. Just the very presence of a phone in the room has a magnetic affect, pulling you in and tempting you to pick it up just to see what’s happening. You don’t need to know what’s happening. You need to get your work done so make that phone behave or banish it to another part of the house altogether.
- Clear out the clutter.
No matter what project you are tackling, clear out the clutter first. A desk stacked high of piles and junk is not conducive to a good work session. Neither is a living room full of piles of laundry, toys, and leftover Amazon boxes. If you can’t completely deal with the clutter, putting things back in their proper places, at least move them to a different room so you can focus on organizing that closet or working on that computer without the clutter causing chaos in your brain every time you spy it.
- Smooth the noise.
This is especially crucial if you need to concentrate in order to read or write anything or fill out paperwork. Hop on YouTube and find yourself some Nature Sounds or white noise. (I actually prefer deep brown noise.) Then connect with some earbuds and let the consistent noise calm your mind and help you to focus.
- Close the tabs.
Just like having too many tabs open on your computer, sometimes there are too many tabs open in our brains. The constant toggling back-and-forth between tasks renders us ineffective. If you are trying to focus on one project, but switch your attention to something else even for a few moments, it’s nearly impossible for your brain to pick back up where you left off when you try to focus back on the main project at hand. Your brain needs a little time to review and ramp up to get going again. This costs you precious time. Instead focus on one task over a long chunk of time. Multitasking doesn’t help us be more efficient. It actually has the opposite effect. You might want to even divvy up tasks based on the day of the week so you’re not trying to do a little bit of five different tasks daily. Instead, you just complete one larger task—from beginning to end—per day.
- Write out your “big one.“
Once you have decided what your single task for the day will be, write it out on a sticky note and post it where you will see it. Or use some colorful markers to write it out on a whiteboard in your home office. Keeping the main thing ever before your eyes will help your brain to focus. Once that task is completed, make a new one sheet with what you will do next. This helps to calm your mind and prevent the panic and chaos you often feel when you look at a long to do list with over a dozen things scribbled out on it. I do keep a longer list of all of my in a notebook. However, I only write on a small white board the one task I need to do now. When it is finished, I cross it off and add the next thing. One task at a time. That’s the way to roll.
- Set a stopwatch.
If we don’t put an ending time to the project we are working on, we can easily meander around our home, working on other things that don’t need to be done now. To prevent this, give yourself a time limit and then set a stopwatch. Make it somewhat of a competition to beat the clock. This will help you zero in, work smarter, and get done more quickly.
- Fuel your body.
Make sure to have something yummy and protein-packed to snack on as you work like hard boiled eggs, cubes of cheese, or handfuls of lightly salted nuts. Take care to stay hydrated too.
- Rest your brain.
I think this one has been the most beneficial for me. It’s something I have been doing consistently for over two years now. Once a day let your brain rest completely. I read somewhere that this should be for at least 17 minutes. Not sure why the odd timeframe, but it works like a charm! I will go out into a lawn chair at the wooded area near the back of our property, if the weather is nice. Other times, especially in winter, I will simply light the fireplace and curl up in a blanket. Then, for 17 minutes (I set a timer) try my very best to think about absolutely nothing. I don’t mentally go through my to do list. I don’t think about what I’m going to make for supper. I try to just think about nothing. I’ll look at nature or I stare at the flickering flames and just give my brain a rest. When I’m done, I feel more energized and ready to tackle the work ahead.
- Reward your soul.
This is a little trick I have been doing ever since I got out of college and began “adulting.” I’m sure it’s a lesson that I learned from my mother. When we were kids, we were rewarded with a popsicle once we’d helped clean out the garage. Or, we were treated to a trip to the park after we’d helped my mom wash windows. I have adapted this as an adult. For example, I absolutely love getting real mail. When I go out to the mailbox and see a handwritten card or letter from someone, we can’t wait to read it. However, I do wait. I reward myself when a task is finished by opening my personal mail. Or if I ordered a new pair of earrings off the Internet and can’t wait to see if they match my new sweater perfectly, I don’t let myself open them until my work is complete. You can also build in other tasks like a trip to the coffee house, a walk around the block on a sunny afternoon, or one episode of your latest binge on Netflix. Knowing there is a reward ahead can help us work more efficiently.
All right, there you have it! Now for the giveaway and an announcement!!!
One of you will be given a time management package that includes:
This anti-gravity pen:
This timer for tackling your tasks:
And a subscription to our BRAND NEW mentorship site’s first e-course Silencing the Noise: How to Hear the Whispers of God Through the Loudness of Life. This course will be taught by Ruth Schwenk, Courtney Joseph, and me (with special guest Clare Smith.)
This four-week course will help you to:
- Find peace in the midst of life’s busyness, teaching you how to halt the hustle
- Grow in your knowledge of God’s Word and spend time in it each day
- Glean wisdom and insight from four experienced mentors who’ve been there and know how to help point you toward a more joy-filled life balance!
The course includes:
- Weekly teaching videos, devotions, prayer sheets, and live Q&A events held via Zoom
- A designed, printable workbook for personal study
- Prayer journaling sheets
- Lockscreens and social images
- Fellowship and guidance
- A special bonus on the final week that will help you silence the noise in your life going forward.