Boost your productivity in only 4 steps and create better content.
Sometimes I wish I was Oscar Wilde.
Who wouldn’t, you may say. But you missed my point.
It’s not the fame and talent I seek. We have many more possibilities to create a business out of our writing today than Wilde ever had. But we will never have the same silence around us.
Not only has the world gotten much louder in the past few years. But it also got in our pocket. And the amount of distraction these two changes brought us is incomparable to the distractions our ancestors had to deal with before.
If you want to become a content creator in today’s industry, you need to take care of many things. And usually, that is not a problem. But how can you deal with distractions and also stay online at the same time? How can you block out distractions and still make good content?
How to block out distractions in 4 steps
Have you ever tracked how much time you spend getting distracted and getting back to work?
I guess you never have. Who would do that? But if you ever would, as Gloria Mark did, you would have found out that you will switch tasks every 3 minutes on average while working in front of a computer. And each switch increases the possibility of getting distracted.
Also, in the same study published by the University of California, Gloria Mark proved it takes 23 minutes, on average, to recover from a distraction. So every 3 minutes, there is a possibility you stop working at full potential for the next 23 minutes.
For a content creator, these numbers are absurd. How are we supposed to even do something without procrastinating?
Lucky for you, there are many ways in which you can block out distractions and work on your projects. And in this article, I will share with you four of them:
- Control your internal triggers.
- Find your purpose.
- Delay or remove external stimuli.
- Discourage distractions.
The first two are internal measures you can use to control your behavior. While the latter ones are external, and you can use them to block out distractions and resist procrastination.
How to block out distractions using internal actions
Every significant change comes from your internal systems.
The way you control your needs defines your conduct. While the way you think and search for answers determines your purpose.
So if you want to change your behavior and block out distractions because they are causing you to lose too much time, you need to start with these two patterns.
First, you have to learn how to control internal triggers and limit your needs or delay them until you finish the task you are currently working on. And then, you must find a purpose so high that it nullifies every other action that doesn’t directly benefit your goals.
1 — Control your internal triggers.
Triggers are the patterns our body uses to communicate its needs to our brain. So if your back hurts, for example, you stretch. If your stomach is empty, you get hungry and look for a snack.
To control your internal triggers, you have to understand they are necessary. And you can’t get rid of them, nor replace them.
If you try to resist, you will distract even more. So instead of blocking, learn how to control the sensations your body conveys. And every time you receive distracting impulses, follow a fixed pattern:
- Find the cue that precedes the triggers.
- Write it on a piece of paper.
- Try to remove the causes, if possible.
- Otherwise, you should limit yourself to acknowledging their existence.
If you decide to act on the cause, start by finding new ways of performing the task you interrupted. Make it more fun, for example. And if the distraction persists, search for efficient ways to limit it.
The best solution is to believe that you can control your internal triggers. If you decide you have the willpower to govern your needs and resist temptations, nothing can stop you.
2 — Find your purpose.
If you care about something or someone, there’s nothing that can stop you. It works with love and friendships, work relationships, and also distractions.
The more you care about your distractions and find them interesting, the more you will surrender to them. On the contrary, if you have a purpose and a goal you are willing to pursue with all your power, everything else disappears.
Usually, we establish our lives in three spheres: work, relationships, and ourselves. So if you cannot escape distraction, search for a purpose for each of those spheres:
- Define how much of your free time you want to dedicate to your work. If your goal is to improve your career, it may be a lot. But if you don’t care about your current job, you may reserve little time in this sphere.
- Define a purpose for your relationships. If you benefit from interacting with others and it fills you with joy and willpower, make building relationships your goal. And dedicate yourself to taking care of your social skills.
- Find a purpose for yourself. In the end, we live together, and we die alone. So find yourself a dream, and put all your work into it. If you want people to remember you, give yourself enough time to grow into a great and lovable person.
Once you find those three purposes, or less if some of them don’t bother you, make sure to review them every day. They need to become part of your internal system and affect your actions. And once that happens, you won’t need to deal with distractions that much anymore.
How to block out distractions using external modifiers
Internal triggers are your main enemies, and they always have been. But in the last few years, smartphones and wearables influenced our behavior so much that we have to deal with many more distractions nowadays.
Notifications, sound, lights, and vibration — everything distracts us. And the only way to deal with all those interruptions is to delay or shut them down.
3 — Delay or remove external stimuli.
The first step in dealing with external stimuli is to learn how to delay them. For example, if your phone rings, you need to train yourself to resist and check it out only once you finish your tasks.
As for internal triggers, you can follow a simple path to understand what to address first and what you can bear.
- Write down everything that distracted you coming from an external source.
- Ask yourself if the triggers were necessary for completing the goal you were pursuing.
- Try to remove any unnecessary triggers.
- Otherwise, if it is too complex, train yourself to resist them.
In particular, there are four predominant causes for external triggers:
Smartphone (or any digital device)
Smartphones are our worst enemies when dealing with blocking out distractions. But you can delay notifications through apps like Forest, which make you plan trees while you work and forbids you from leaving the app (or the trees die). Otherwise, if the temptation is too high, you can even block notifications with applications like Freedom.
Clutter is another cause of high inputs and distractions. And the more things you have on your desk, the higher the chance and temptation to use them to procrastinate and lose time.
But if you learn how to declutter your environment, your productivity will benefit from it. So try keeping only the essential objects around.
I know many people who love multitasking. And they think they can finish many things contemporary and increase their productivity by parallelizing.
But multitasking has never been a solution. If any, it has been one of the problems of procrastination and low productivity.
When you try to multitask, you keep switching between contexts and can’t concentrate on one thing at a time. So you lose most of your time trying to focus than deepening your efficiency.
Many people love working with music, and I have to admit sometimes I do it too. And some studies show how music can help you concentrate and increase your productivity. But that doesn’t mean you have to listen to Christina Aguilera or Machine Gun Kelly while writing your next article.
People with higher productivity scores listen to music with lyrics during breaks and use instrumental music as a surrounding effect during work. So don’t listen to your favorite singer while working, or you will focus more on singing than working on your project.
4 — Discourage distractions.
The last step for resisting distractions is to discourage them through other techniques. Here, you focus on building obstacles for some distractions to keep them distant.
A typical example is putting the phone in another room. The spatial barrier you build between yourself and your phone makes it easier for you to stop checking out notifications every few minutes.
But you can find many more enhancers and barriers for your activities. And you can use them to boost your tasks too.
For example, you can use a system that increases your instant gratification with rewards. Or you could use a punishment system that takes something away from you each time you surrender a distraction.
Bonus step: set a timer and stick to it.
Besides these four steps, there is one last thing you can do to block out distractions and still make good content. You can set a timer and use your focus abilities to stick to it until the end.
Timers can help you stay committed to focusing on one task until you finish it. And you can use it as a reminder to take short breaks during your work time, which helps prevent burnout and keeps you productive in the long run.
The best timers are the old-fashioned kitchen clock ones because they cannot distract you. But if you want something more customizable, like a Pomodoro tracker, there are many apps you can download. From the simplest ones like Focus Keeper to the more complex ones like StayFree. Or, if you want, the cutest ones like Belion.
Still, if you decide to use an app, make sure it does not become counterproductive.
If you want to become a productive content creator, you need to learn how to focus on your craft. And you can learn how to block out distractions in 4 simple steps.
First, you need to control your internal triggers. Then, you can search for a purpose that makes you focus on a single goal and keep working to achieve it.
Once you apply those two internal solutions, you can also act on external ones. For example, you can delay and block external triggers or discourage distractions through physical barriers.
And if you learn how to use these four steps, you will block out distractions, increase your productivity and make better content.
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