Been reading on Gloria Mark's research about distractions and the penalties of context switching. (It takes on average 23min to refocus)
Supposedly the older we are, the harder it is to switch between contexts(re-focus), and thus the penalty increases.
Do you use any tools to help you refocus faster?
Honestly it's a struggle—and the thing I've found that helps the most is to put on headphones, turn on a soundtrack or ambient-style music, and open a writing app full-screen. Start writing down what I need to work on or some rough ideas. That's generally the best way to get back into flow for me.
The hardest thing actually may be when I have a ton of random tasks, where each take some focus but none take that dedicated, hour-or-more blocks of time, as the switching costs between those feel even higher. Or, the opposite, when I have a time slot but can't quite get focused enough—that's when sometimes it's worth switching up environments, moving into another room or turning on environmental sounds to fake a coffee shop (or go to one, when possible). Oddly that can sometimes feel less distracting than the normal office or home office environment, for whatever reason.
You have to plan ahead and assume that the distractions will happen. I like the reply that mentioned having ready-to-play playlists set for different moods.
The way that I try to mitigate the effects of distractions is by having a daily plan that is very achievable and documented. Years ago I discovered the today.txt method, and I still use it in Roam (I have a block embed that makes templating today.txt very easy in each daily note). Check it out:
If I'm really organized, I'll fill out the next day's today.txt the night before, but this is pretty rare. Usually I sit down each day and force myself to immediately fill out the blanks as my first order of business. No email, Slack or anything else until I've set today's goals. Then I prioritize those goals above all other distractions. If something external barges in (like my toddler) then I accept the distraction, have a positive attitude, and when I'm finally able to return to work the first thing I do is Cmd-Tab over to Roam and look at my today.txt to recenter my focus and see what's next or where I left off.
The really important part is the last line, which states that if you can accomplish the items on your list, then today will be a good day. Start by aiming low with very achievable results, and accept that you have had a good day when you close your laptop lid. Feel satisfied.
On days that I don't get it done, I copy the previous days today.txt over to the new daily note in Roam.
I didn't realize I had long been struggling with this until someone pointed out similar research/thoughts. Not sure I've solved it. I am guilty of thinking I am thriving in the chaos, too.
What few things I've tried that have stuck around:
- being proactive with calendar time ... blocking out "heads down time"
- having a couple warm-up tasks ready to go (vs. trying to jump straight back into the big moments)
- playlists ready (mood music) vs. spending another 15 - 20 minutes being "distracted" in Spotify
- admitting defeat and doing something positive and non-screen based, like exercise or cooking or laundry ... often the mental reset means I come back fresh and motivated
- 50/50 if this works for everyone but as a designer ... accepting that I need to do "something" to make progress and worry less if it's any good ... if anything, at least I have a low bar to work above and that helps get back into "the zone" ("Don't quit until it ain't shit.")
My problem is time breaking up my work. Years ago I could move from one part of what I do and back again with ease. With age it takes time to put on new hats and projects take longer. Very frustrated!
I've noticed a big difference since I switched to SuperHuman for email, the simple fact that it blocks out the rest of my inbox as I respond to the one at hand has made all the difference. I don't know if I can ever go back to gmail now. But Slack is a whole other issue, I turned off the notifications but still find myself checking it constantly to make sure no one is waiting on me for anything. The 50+ open tabs at the end of each day say it all! The evening (post kids' bedtime) has become my most productive time for uninterrupted projects.
Odds are your team doesn’t use the same tool to manage projects and assign work as you use to manage your personal life. Even your calendar appointments likely live on separate Google Calendars, on...
Particularly for comm tools like slack and zoom, and you are purchasing for a team, what admin features are most valuable to you beyond ‘standard’ user features?
We're a small team of 7 working in the event space and I've received a lot of requests about online / virtual events vendors. Would love to get feedback from other customers.