The More You Do – The Better You Feel

How To Learn to Overcome Procrastination and Live a Happier Life

Learning How To Stay Focused on a Task

Date icon November 22, 2011

Having written a self-help book on overcoming procrastination, you might think nothing gets between productivity and me. However, like a recently extinguished blaze that may still possess hotspots, if I dig deep enough within myself I can occasionally uncover remnants of my procrastinating past. So, while I’ve officially taken my place as a “do”-er, I have noticed that one issue remains; it’s staying focused on my tasks.

Perhaps my greatest difficulty in this regard concerns dealing with internal distractions. I’m not talking about the distractions of everyday life that we can do little about, but rather, my mind’s practically insatiable desire to wonder away from my tasks by listening to my unconscious mind’s illogical orders and complaints.

If I begin to notice that the task I’ve undertaken has become just a wee bit boring, my unconscious mind yells: “Put the radio on and play some music to liven things up!” However, not long after taking that advice I soon find myself concentrating more on what’s coming through the speaker, rather than on my work. Once I realize that, I then go back to the radio and start tuning around for something less distracting, like chitchat. However, I then need to acclimate myself to whatever’s being discussed, and then I’m back to being distracted once more.

I’ve also noticed that my body sometimes distracts me. For example: hunger pains can really divert my conscious mind from my work, especially if they occur while working on a home-based project. Without a set lunch break or a supervisor to say “no,” there’s little in the way between the refrigerator and myself. However, if I give in to that distraction it means preparing a meal, sitting down to consume it, and would a recovering procrastinator such as myself leave dirty dishes in the sink? No siree Bob! After all of that, how am I supposed to find the spot where I left off and then successfully get back into the productive rhythm of dealing with my task?

Through the practice of observing and analyzing my own behavior, I’ve learned the most important factor for getting my most difficult tasks completed quickly and accurately has been getting used to working in a silent environment for short lengths of time.

In the past, I found working in silence to be nearly impossible, either because it made me feel terribly lonely or simply because I was used to having a distraction blaring in the background; even if it worked against me. Luckily, old ways and habits can be changed. I’m living proof of that.

Learning to work in a silent environment for short lengths of time has been the key for me. The more I’m able to “do” without distraction, the more I find myself capable of. I’ve discovered one of the best ways to make this change successfully happen has been by running a stopwatch and keeping track of time. My next blog posting will be dedicated to this subject and I hope you’ll return to read it.

What do you find distracting? Is it something external, like the neighbor who keeps checking that his car’s doors are locked by using his remote control, which loudly emits its confirmation tones through the car’s burglar alarm? Or are you distracted by something internal? What’s worked for you in your battles against distraction? If you have something you’d like to share, please let our community know about it right here. I’m interested in what you have to say.

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