Your ability to stay focused and do ‘deep work’ is incredibly important. It allows you to get more done in less time while simultaneously creating higher quality output. As Cal Newport, author of Deep Work, said:
“To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction. Put another way, the type of work that optimizes your performance is deep work.”
Nowadays, however, distractions are so abundantly available and so easily accessible that most people struggle with getting things done and working with deep focus.
Maybe you recognize this yourself as well. You want to get a lot of work done for an important project, but find yourself distracted by email or news websites…
You want to study for an exam or write an article, but you find yourself scrolling through social media or checking the latest memes for too long…
I used to fall prey to distractions all the time — and I’d fail to complete my to-dos almost every single day. No wonder I wasn’t making any progress on my goals at the time.
Nowadays, however, I religiously practice one rule that helps me work with unbreakable focus & concentration. It has boosted my productivity exponentially, and I’m sure it will do the same for you.
There’s a direct relationship between the accessibility of distractions and the intensity of your focus. The easier accessible distractions are, the more likely you are to fall prey to them. The harder it is to access distractions, the more you’ll protect your focus & concentration.
Therefore, it’s my personal rule to put systems and barriers in place to make accessibility to distractions more difficult or even impossible.
Even adding small, simple barriers that require you to spend a bit more time and effort to access a distraction can be enough for your ‘rational self’ to override your impulses.
So, what are these systems and barriers?
How do you make accessibility to distractions more difficult or even impossible?
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In reality, it’s quite simple and straightforward — which is precisely why it works so well. Here are some of the most effective and practical ‘hacks’ to make distractions much less accessible:
All of these hacks are very easy to implement, but they’re highly effective. Use these systems and barriers to make access to distractions harder — even if it’s just a tiny bit. It’s precisely what the ‘rational self’ needs to win over the ‘emotional self.’
As humans, we’re emotional beings. In fact, we’re much more driven by emotions than by rationality. The rational self conceptually knows it should focus deeply and work hard towards a goal.
The emotional self, on the other hand, just wants to feel good right now. It doesn’t like the relative boredom or complexity of work. Instead, it craves the novelty and feel-good neurochemicals (dopamine, for example) sparked by social media, youtube, video games, or snacks.
As the rational self is often the one that makes the most productive decisions, it’s essential that we create an environment where the rational self can take control.
This is precisely why we need to put systems and barriers in place that make access to distractions more difficult or completely impossible. In such an environment, the emotional self is less tempted, and the rational self can flourish.
When it takes only one click of a button or one easy swipe to lose yourself in distractions, the rational self never has enough time to interfere. Before you know it, you’re already in a vortex of digital distractions.
On the other hand, when it takes a bit more time or effort to access these same distractions, the rational self is better equipped to stop the emotional self from procrastinating.
All in all, when you want to work with unbreakable concentration and deep focus, you must deprive yourself of distractions as much as possible by making them much less accessible. Create a distraction-free space, even if it’s just for two hours a day, to engage in deep work so you can reach higher levels of productivity.
Knowing how to be more focused is not enough; you must implement the things you know by taking action. Therefore, as an action point for this article, I recommend you try at least three of the suggested ‘barriers’ in your next work session.
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab