How to Stop Getting Distracted (By Email and The Like)

Hand holding smartphone with colorful app icons conceptYou hear the sparrows chirping as you wheel out the lawnmower. It's been a few weeks since the grass has had a good cut, and it's starting to show.

You've decided to do something about it.

The lawnmower turns on with a roar; you've had this thing for 15 years, and it's still going strong. You've been through a lot together, you and the lawnmower. Through the great crabgrass debacle of 2011, the dandelion fiasco of 2014, and who could forget the battle of ant-hill just a few years back.

Yes, today should be easy. You've certainly been through worse.


The delivery you've been waiting for

You're sweating now, but only slightly. You've covered about a fifth of the lawn in record time. Not bad.

From down the street, a brown delivery truck slowly approaches, dropping off packages along the route. Your eyes look up as the worn transport nears. Could this be? You've been anticipating a delivery for several days now.

Aha! It is!

The delivery person parks in front of your home and steps out of the truck, box in hand. She makes her way to you, sizing you up as she walks. "Do you live here?" She asks. You nod the affirmative. "Here," she says. The box is placed in your hands as she turns and heads back to the truck.

Driving off, she can see you bringing the box into your house from her side mirror.


An unexpected guest

You return to your mower. Starting up again with a roar, you daydream of opening the box's contents just as soon as you're done with your work.

Suddenly, another delivery truck pulls up. The courier gets out, walks to you in a hurry, and asks, "Live here?" You nod once again and find yet another box in your hands. Huh... that's weird. You don't remember ordering more than one item.

Oh well. I'll deal with this box later.

Swiftly, you bring it in and place it next to the first.

You're no sooner outside when a third delivery person is making their way to you. Without having to be asked, you put out your arms and take hold of another box. Confused, you place this third box next to the first two.


Back to work... or maybe not

With the distractions out of the way, you return to your mower. But alas, a fourth delivery truck has arrived at just that moment.

What is going on?

You walk out to the curb and look down the street. Off in the distance is an army of delivery trucks all making their way to your home. What's with all the deliveries? I don't remember asking for any of this! At this rate, I'll never get my mowing done.

And you're right.

It's not until the sun is down and the air is cold that you are able to resume mowing once again. Yet even then, in the distance, you can see the faint dim of headlights growing brighter as they make their way to your address.


Email and other such nonsense

You can have the best strategy, the toughest disposition, and the most drive of anyone you know, but if you allow distraction to come between you and work, you will not get anything done. You will be frustrated and more than likely confused at the end of the day as to where your time went.

But I know where it went.

It went to email. To Slack. To texts, calls, chats, and other such nonsense that prevents you from doing anything meaningful with your time.


Take control of your attention

But there's good news! There's a very simple way to mitigate these distractions. Turn them off.

That's it. That's all you have to do. On your phone, go into your settings and turn off every single notification. You don't need them.

I don't.

I turned them off some four or five months ago - except in the case of incoming phone calls, which I still get notified of - and my productivity has skyrocketed because of it. Instead of being captive to whoever wants to get a hold of me, I am in control.


You decide when to check

I found that the majority of the time, the notifications I was getting were junk. Even texts from friends were generally unimportant and non-urgent.

So I turned them off. And now, I simply check my phone when I want to.

Usually, that's once in the morning, once around lunch, and once in the afternoon. And that's it. The rest of the time is spent doing this, writing to you or doing whatever important work I've decided to pursue for the day.

It's the equivalent of letting the delivery people put their boxes aside for me to handle when I deem fit, not when they impose themselves upon me.


Turn them off right now

This is something you can easily do.

And I know, your circumstances are likely different. Maybe it's irresponsible to turn everything off. But there are certainly some things you can do without. And those are the notifications to disable.

This doesn't just apply to your phone either. Do it for your computer, tablet, or any other connected device you have. What you give your attention to matters. If you allow nonsense to own it, that's what you will accomplish. Nonsense.

So turn off the distractions and finish mowing the lawn like you set out to do.

Better manage flexible, non-employee worforce

About the Author: Corey Fradin is the founder of QuickBooost, a blog that helps you achieve your goals. Through his works, Corey shows you how to create a life of meaning and fulfillment. One of true goal success.

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