We are living in a great age of distraction. According to one 2011 study, that incessant flow of data, words and images amounts to the equivalent of 174 newspapers’ worth of content over the course of a day. (And those were the days before Snapchat.) But there are things we can do that can help our whirring minds manage a little better.
Set specific goals
Tasks like “go to the gym” are easily pushed off. If you make your goal “go to the gym after lunch,” you’re more likely to hold yourself accountable.
Do a phone swap
When you are out with friends and want a phone with you for emergencies, trade with a friend. If you really need to make a call, you can use theirs.
Keep it brief
Don’t waste time or lose focus by spending more mental energy than you need to on emails. Keep your thoughts focused and express yourself in five sentences max.
Leave something for tomorrow
If you’re making headway with a task and enjoying it, leave it unfinished. You’ll be more motivated to pick it up again during your next hyperfocus session.
Resist the urge to check your phone in the checkout line. Random free moments are great opportunities for scatterfocus. Let your mind wander instead of cramming it with more distractions.
Take a deep breath
Regular meditation—closing your eyes and paying attention to your breathing—can have profound effects on your mind. It focuses more effectively—one study showed a 16 percent increase in test scores among participants who meditated regularly.
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