This is a recommended practice from a series about how to focus in my online course, Science of Finding Flow.
When we are re-building our ability to focus, we often need to change certain aspects of our environments.
Anything that might distract or tempt us away from single-tasking needs to be taken care of before we drop into “The Zone.” I think of myself like a toddler going on a road trip: What will make me pull over before I reach my destination? Will I need to plug my computer in? Get a Kleenex? Adjust the thermostat? Something as small as an itchy tag on the back of our shirt can weaken our focus if we become tempted to go to the bathroom to cut it out.
Here is what I have to do before I find flow
- Clear my desk of anything that might distract me. I remove yesterday’s coffee cup, close books, put pens away, stack papers into a deceptively neat pile. As I do this, I note anything on my task list that will need my attention later, and make a time when I will attend to it.
- Open any documents on my computer that I will need to use while I’m doing my focused work, and then quit my email application and close any open browser windows that I won’t need.
- I close any other apps that aren’t in use. I leave my calendar open, so that I’m notified when I need to transition to a meeting or other work.
- I put my smartphone into “do not disturb” mode and move it out of sight.
- I go to the bathroom, and bring a glass of water, snack, and cup of coffee to my desk.
- I close my office door. If I’m not alone, I put on noise canceling headphones and then I tell Buster, my trusty canine colleague, to go to his “place,” where he’s trained to stay while I work.
What do you need to do to build your fortress against distraction and interruption? Take a minute to anticipate obstacles: What will distract or interrupt you? What is your plan to conquer those obstacles? Make yourself a quick list. We’ll refer back to them in our next activity.
This “class” is from “The Science of Finding Flow,” an online course I created as a companion to my book The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less. Want to go on to the next class or start the course from the beginning? It’s free! Just go to The Science of Finding Flow course page. Enjoy!