We all know the feeling of being overwhelmed by distractions. Too many things clamour for your attention. People are trying to reach you by phone, email, text, Twitter, or old-fashioned yelling up the stairs.
Colleagues interrupt. You need to update, check in, post, or ping. Ads jump at you from the most unlikely places. Devices buzz, ring, chirp, and vibrate.
If meditation isn’t for you, there are still steps you might consider to quiet the buzz in your brain. In addition to feeling calmer and more focused, you’ll probably be more efficient, too, since studies prove that people aren’t very good at thinking about two things at once.
In fact, once interrupted, it takes about 15 minutes to resume the necessary concentration for a serious mental task.
Consider taking these steps to power up your focus
- If you keep the TV, radio, or music turned on in the background while you’re getting dressed, for example – turn it off. Some people love background noise, but I find it very draining.
- I have a sticky note in my bedroom that reads, ‘Quiet mind’. Whenever I see it, I drop my shoulders, relax my jaw, and try to smooth out my thoughts. It actually works.
- Organise space so it’s attractive, well organised, and well lit. One of my most important secrets of adulthood: Outer order contributes to inner calm.
- Cut down on the multi-tasking. Don’t talk on the phone while you’re doing dishes, don’t check your email while you listen to a conference call, don’t sort the mail while your child explains the school project that’s due next week.
- Turn your cell phone ringer off. Hearing your cell phone ring – or even imagining that you’re hearing it ring – is a big source of jumpiness.
- Take a break from doing errands. Keep a list, but don’t try to cram them in throughout your day.
- Use the Internet only to look up specific pieces of information; no jumping from link to link, no browsing.
- Turn off your email for some parts of the day.
- Stop counting. Avoid looking at clocks, contracts, bank statements, bathroom scales, or anything to do with numbers.
- Exercise. If I don’t exercise regularly, I’m too jumpy and restless to sit still and concentrate.
- Flee temptation. I find it hard to work in my home office, because my family, the phone, my email, and the Internet constantly beguile me away from my work. So when I have serious writing to do, I go to a library near my apartment which has a study room with a strict rule of silence.
It’s important to have space in which to think. Yesterday, I overheard someone complain, “My phone was dead, so I was so bored during my cab ride home. I just had to sit there.”
Don’t complain about the quiet, embrace it. Your mind will thank you.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.