March 24, 2020

The times are distracting

  • The threat of economic slowdowns
  • The need to self-isolate and distance yourself socially
  • Finding out that you can’t do your normal grocery shopping properly due to the panic of others
  • Your job, or your business, is at risk

Regardless, we know that life is no longer the same. At least for a while more.

Many have been called to work from home. Others who are on casual employment contracts have lost their jobs. Some have bosses who just want to follow the herd and cut salaries (and working hours), even though their business has not suffered.

Yet, it’s not just about you. There is also the safety of those around you to consider. Your family members. Your friends.

Distracting times

Our typical workday is already distracting as it is. There are numerous meetings to attend. Colleagues stop you now and then to ask you something, or to chat. Emails come in throughout the day. A phone call here. Another conference call there.

Our workday has already become so fragmented.

Add on a pandemic, and it becomes hard not to get distracted. All the news outlets are flooded with constant updates about Covid-19.

How many more times do you check the news or your social media each day now?

These are distracting times indeed. Sometimes it’s not even about your own fear. But the fear of others that affects you.

And in these times of distractions, it certainly is much harder to focus on the work that you need to do. Your thoughts become cluttered with the events that are going around you.

Focus in times of distraction

Photo of person using mobile phone and computer at the same time

#1 Put aside sources of distraction

Now that more people are working from home, it might make it easier to eliminate some sources of distractions. At least you won’t have people coming up to you every now and then to ask you something or get something from you. Perhaps there are fewer meetings to attend.

But working from home, especially alone, does have its challenges.

No one knows if you check your phone more often. No one knows if you get distracted from your work and check the news more often.

If you want to focus, you need to put aside the sources of distraction:

  • Put your phone on airplane mode
  • Use apps if you need help
  • Get someone to work together with you so that you can stop each other from getting distracted
  • Limit checking the news to just once a day
  • Batch process your emails at a scheduled time instead of opening them the moment you receive them

Photo of weekly planner

#2 Carve out your best block of time for work

Does working from home allow you more flexibility to choose which hours to work? If yes, why not try shifting your work hours around to see which are the times that suit you best?

Do you do your best work early in the morning? Or perhaps late at night?

Whatever it is, make sure that those are uninterrupted hours for doing your work.

Research has shown that the average person is only productive for around 3 hours a day. Personally, I believe that it’s unlikely to go beyond half a day. Perhaps 4 – 6 hours, if you are doing creative work that’s more dependent on the quality of your thinking rather than the quantity of your output.

You need to schedule time for creativity. Don’t just depend on what you feel at the moment. Allocate your best 3 to 6 hours for doing the most important work. Leave the rest of the tasks to other times.

Photo of person at the computer

#3 Show up

It’s tempting to not do anything when you don’t feel like doing anything.

Now that my school semester is fully online due to the Covid-19 situation, the motivation to start doing any school work has disappeared.

But it’s still important to show up even when you don’t feel like doing anything. Even when you are stuck on a problem. By showing up, it means getting to your workstation during the time you have allocated for work.

Sure, sometimes the work that you do might not be up to standard. But if you don’t start to get your brain thinking, you will find that you will lose any motivation to start doing anything at all.

Showing up is half the battle won.

Life must go on

Home quarantine didn’t distract these musicians from continuing to make music. Neither should you be distracted.

Whether it’s our jobs, our school work, our side projects, or our freelancing gigs. We shouldn’t be distracted from continuing doing the work that we need to do. After all, all we need to do as creatives is to create.

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