Declutter Your Mind: How to Avoid Distractions and Increase Your Focus

Distractions can be clutter in themselves. Distractions can also be contributors to clutter by diverting your attention from what’s important and allowing clutter to grow. Procrastination is a self-created phenomenon that everyone faces.

You never feel good while procrastinating. The work that you’re avoiding is still hanging over your head. No distraction is enough to completely eliminate that nagging feeling. You continue to check the time and shift your attention back and forth between the distraction and the work you should be doing. The result is mental clutter.

Some distractions aren’t all that distracting. They just happen to be a more enjoyable option than the work you should be doing. However, some distractions are highly distracting in their own right.

Evaluate the distractions you face in your life each day:

  1. How do you waste time? Forget about procrastinating. If you have nothing pressing on your schedule, how do you waste time? Make a list. A few popular culprits include:
    • Internet
    • TV
    • Cell phone-related activities
    • Video games
    • Shopping
    • Mindless chatting with friends
    • These are likely the same ways you spend your time while procrastinating.

  2. Consider the cost of losing that time. Even if you only waste one hour per day, and it’s likely much more than that, that’s 365 hours per year. That’s over nine 40-hour work weeks. That’s over two months! What else could you do with that hour?
    • Exercise
    • Build a blog
    • Take a college course
    • Make new friends
    • Write a book
    • Learn a language
    • Learn an instrument
    • Remember that you likely waste a lot more than 60 minutes each day!

  3. Make a list before bed. Prepare a list of the most important 3-5 tasks you have to do the following day. Ensure that at least half of your list are items that will move your life forward in some way.

  4. Understand why those items are important. Understand the benefit you’re gaining by taking these actions.

  5. Reduce each task to the necessary steps. Tasks that are too big or too poorly defined encourage distraction.

  6. Reduce your distractions. Remove any distractions from your environment or create friction so it’s a pain to access your distractions.  
    • Turn off your phone. 
    • Turn off the internet or give yourself a timeslot for the internet and social media. 
    • Unplug the television every time you are done watching it for the night.
    • Shut the door to your office and use noise-cancelling headphones.

  7. Set a timer. Unless you’ve been meditating in a cave for the last ten years, you can’t expect yourself to be able to concentrate for 8 hours straight. Use a timer to create time boundaries. Most of us can concentrate for 30-60 minutes at a time. Then take a break for 5-10 minutes and get back after it.

Distractions are everywhere. Some of us are naturally better at ignoring distractions than others. Use your time to the best of your ability by reducing the distractions in your life. You’re then in a stronger position to avoid procrastination.

Consider that the worst procrastinators you know are struggling the most with life. Procrastination is perhaps the greatest fertilizer for mental clutter

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