Reduce Everyday Distractions

Being distracted in your everyday life can make it challenging to get things done and follow through on your commitments. One 2014 review from Frontiers in Psychology suggests that frequent distractions can disrupt your ability to recall details, identify sounds, and even perceive objects when you look at them.[1] Needless to say, that’s a problem if you’re trying to be productive! If you’re looking to get back on the right track, you’re in the right place. We’ll walk you through a variety of ways you can cut down on the noise so that you can focus on what’s important.


Creating a Quiet, Distraction-Free Space

  1. Find a quiet work environment.[2] Start by setting up a work environment that is quiet and private. This could be a spare room in your house or a section of your room. You may also use an empty cubicle or a desk that is further away from others in the office. Finding an environment that is quiet and private can help you stay focused.[3]
    • You may also adjust your existing work environment to make it more quiet. This may mean making sure your door is closed when you are working or adjusting your cubicle so it is more secluded and away from others.
    • You may also move your space to an area that is more quiet and private, such as an office space in your home or apartment.
  2. Set up your work space. You should establish a work space that is conducive to focusing and getting things done. Set up a solid work surface, such as a desk or a table, in your chosen work environment. Make sure you have a partition around your work space or a door so you can block out any outside noise.[4]
    • You should also keep all your books, pens, and paper in your work space. Have your computer set up in the space and a chair that is comfortable for you to sit in.
  3. Adjust the space over time. Once you have set up a quiet, distraction-free space, you should adjust it over time so it remains comfortable and suitable to your needs. You may end up repositioning your work desk so it is facing away from a window if you find you get distracted by looking out the window. Or you may move your computer so you can see the screen properly and focus on the tasks at hand.[5]
    • You may add an ergonomic feature to your work space, such as a support pad for your hands while you type on the computer or an ergonomic mouse. You can also get a chair that supports your lower back so you are not distracted by any back or spine issues while you work.

Blocking Out Everyday Distractions

  1. Turn off or mute your cell phone. One big distraction in our lives is our technology, especially our phones. Block out this distraction by turning off your phone or putting it on mute so you can focus. You may turn off your phone for at least one hour a day so you can focus on a specific task or put it on mute throughout the day so you only pick it up and look at it a few times during the day. Try to get in the habit of checking your phone less and focusing on your work or the tasks at hand more.[6]
    • You may also try setting a timer on your phone and putting it somewhere you can’t see it. Once the timer is up, you are then allowed to check your phone. This can help you avoid checking your phone too often.
  2. Switch off your wifi connection. Another big distraction is the internet. If you don’t need the internet to get your work done, try turning off your wifi connection in your workspace for a period of time. You may set aside one hour in the day of internet-free time where you catch up on reading, study, or get other errands done. Turning off your wifi can make it easier to avoid getting distracted by the internet.[7]
    • When you switch off your wifi connection, you may let others know around you and advise them to communicate with you in person if they need something. This will signal to others that you are going to be offline and focused on other things for a period of time.
  3. Manage your use of social media and email. You should also try to cut down on how often you use social media and email throughout the day. If you notice you check your email several times in an hour, you may try to reduce this to only several times a day. You may also try limiting how often you check social media. If you tend to check social media every hour, try only checking it every other hour.[8]
    • If you cannot seem to control your use of social media and email, you may try shutting off your wifi connection completely for several hours in the day. Or you may give your smartphone to a friend to prevent you from checking it too often while you are working.
  4. Tell others to leave you alone. You should let those around you know that you are trying to stay focused and avoid getting distracted. Tell your roommates, your partner, or your family members that you are going to be busy for a certain period of time and need to be left alone. You may also let coworkers know that you are trying to stay focused and to talk to you another time.[9]
    • Try putting up a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door or keep your door closed. You can also instruct others around you that if your door is closed, they should knock first before entering so you are not disturbed.
    • You may text your friends and let them know you are busy doing school work or work at the office so they leave you alone for a period of time. Or you may send out an email to others letting them know that you will not be checking email for a specific period of time so you can focus.

Staying Focused on Tasks and Goals

  1. Explore your own needs and desires.[10] Spend some time doing self-exploration and identify what it is you really want from your particular tasks or goals, and not what others may expect from you. Sometime, people do tasks, set goals, or pick a particular path in life out of desperation to free themselves from the anxiety of not knowing where to go or what to do. People also try to make others happy by following their expectations and desires, rather than one’s own.
    • Ensure that what you are focusing on matches what you truly desire in regards to your life purpose and goals, as this can help to foster passion and drive to continue on.
  2. Create a list of tasks and goals for the day. To stay focused and organized, you should create a list of tasks and goals. Write down the tasks for the day as well as goals or things you need to get done. Post the list somewhere you can see it and mark things down as you complete them. This will help you stay focused and avoid getting distracted from the tasks at hand.[11]
    • You may order the list based on the most important tasks to the least important tasks. Or you may try ordering the list based on the smallest task to the largest task. This way, you can get the smaller tasks out of the way quickly and have enough time to get to the larger ones.
    • For example, you may have the task "do homework" at the top of your list of tasks, followed by "clean room." Or you may put "get emails done" at the top of your list, followed by "organize desk."
    • Block out time in your calendar to complete each task as if it were a scheduled meeting or other appointment. This could be as simple as when you will return phone calls, or respond to emails, rather than responding to them immediately as they come in.
  3. Tackle one thing at a time. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by your to-do list, especially when you are prone to distraction. Rather than try to do everything at once, try tackling one thing at a time. Focus on one task, complete it, and then move on to the next task. This way, you do not get overwhelmed and you can feel a sense of accomplishment with every task completed.[12]
    • For example, you may have “finish book report” and “do chores” on your list. Start by focusing on finishing your book report first. Once that’s done, shift your focus to doing your chores.
    • Track all the activities you've done in a 30- to 60-minute window so you can see how you're utilizing your time and to help boost your efficiency.[13]
  4. Schedule in breaks. Make sure you allot yourself some breaks between tasks or goals. Having a few minutes of downtime can help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed. You may schedule in ten minutes of downtime between tasks if you have a very busy day or allow yourself an hour of downtime after dinner before tackling more work.
    • You may use your breaks to surfing the internet, go on social media, or chat with a friend. Once the downtime is up, make sure you shift your focus back to your list of tasks.
  5. Visualize your success. To stay motivated and focused, it may help to visualize your success for the day. You may do this at the start of the day, where you visualize yourself completing all of your tasks and achieving your goals. You may also do this in bed before you go to sleep, visualizing your day and your ability to stay focused.[14]
    • For example, you may visualize yourself in your work space, checking off the tasks on your list and avoiding distractions. Or you may visualize yourself completing a particular task, such as typing up a paper on your computer or completing your household chores on time.