“Give yourself small bursts of focus, instead of long periods of distraction.”
There could be a lot of different causes for the decline of attention spans in society, particularly with the computer using generation. But whatever the cause, its important to acknowledge that for some of us, it is difficult to stay completely focused on one singular task without being distracted. Even when we shut off our phones, or turn off the internet (if such a thing is possible), our minds still seem to wander, expecting that distraction every single second.
Recently, I’ve been testing out a new way to stay productive, and it involves smaller bursts of attention. Rather than stay focused for 2 hours, which can be daunting, I try to stay focused for 45 minutes, and give myself a 15 minute break each hour. In doing so, I’m able to stay focused on the task I am doing, and end up with a much better result, than if I tried to sit myself down for 2 hours at a time (which results in distractions every 5 minutes).
My 45/15 rule may not work for all. I know a few friends who apply a rule of 25 minutes of focus, 5 minutes of play, rinse and repeat. The point is to find out what system works for you and then use it to increase your productivity. Smaller bursts become much more manageable, and its easier to believe we can perform in those circumstances, versus the daunting. That isn’t to say that what appears daunting can’t be done, but rather than NOT doing anything because you feel so overwhelmed, breaking it down into small chunks of time may help.
Aside from trying to avoid distractions, this methodology can help you BEGIN working period. Sometimes the hardest thing to do, is to start our tasks, and that can be difficult if it is particularly intimidating. By breaking down the tasks required into smaller pieces, the intimidating can become manageable.
So do a little bit of experimenting: find out what works best for you. There are far too many distractions in the world, but perhaps by tackling these distractions by allowing ourselves smaller chunks of productive time rather than one massive chunk that simply doesn’t permit much work to get done, we can actually be productive! By breaking things down into smaller chunks, we can process them better.
After all, every big thing is made up of smaller parts. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.