The key to productivity is staying focused on the present moment and avoiding the temptation to multitask, but that’s easier said than done. If you’re working from home, you have probably noticed how seamlessly you can drift off from working on a task to suddenly scrolling through social media or checking the news, especially if there’s no one around to prevent you from doing so.
What we must realize is that this happens to the best of us and that there are ways to train your mind to stay focused on the present moment. Below, you will find three ways to help your mind stop wandering off task.
A little mindfulness: With the practice of mindfulness, what we are doing is teaching our minds to recognize patterns of thought. This helps you later to notice when your mind starts to drift off from your present task and starts thinking about something else. So rather than just letting yourself follow a distracting thought, you can revert your attention to what you really meant to be focusing on. If you want to make mindfulness a part of your everyday life, check out our article from December on this very topic.
Learn a new response: One effective way to train your brain to remain focused on the present moment is by changing the response you have with distracting thoughts. For instance, you might leave the task you’re doing and do something else like check your email because you associate that task with productivity. However, if you change the way your mind responds to the thought of checking your email, you can create a habit of responding to that thought in a more productive manner.
So, let’s say you’re writing a report when suddenly the thought of checking your email pops into your mind. Instead of simply checking your email, change your response, and commit to finishing the paragraph you’re working on before you consider checking your email. If you do this consistently, you’ll develop a habit of finishing your current task every time the thought of checking your email pops up.
Take notes, not texts: This piece of advice is directed at something that became incredibly common in the past year: the virtual meeting. In an in-person meeting, you are forced to maintain a physical posture that shows you are paying attention, but during a virtual meeting, that’s not so necessary. You can easily engage in some other activity that is out of view of the camera or simply check other tabs on your computer screen rather than focusing on the meeting itself. The problem is that when you’re not physically engaged, your mind tends not to be mentally engaged either.
To keep your mind focused, what you need to do is create your own bodily engagement during the meeting. Pay attention to your posture, and use a pen and paper to take notes rather than type on your computer. This will naturally help you to stay engaged in the virtual meeting and will help increase your levels of attention. At a time where everything and anything is vying for your attention, we know it’s difficult to remain focused on the present moment. We hope, however, that these three tips can help you train your brain to fight distracting thoughts and behaviors.