Dealing with distraction

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It’s probably never been harder to get work done. People who work in offices have always had the ‘real world’ distractions of colleagues talking and phones ringing, but add to that an ever re-filling inbox, facebook, twitter, texts, instagram, twenty-four hour news updates and the world’s information and music at your fingertips and you’ve not got much room left for quiet productivity.

However, meditating has so massively improved my ability to concentrate and reduced my desire for distraction that I can honestly say I’ve gone from a phone and social media addict to being able to go the whole day without wanting to look at any of it.

I used to get my phone out whilst waiting for the traffic lights to change on my bike. I’d do five minutes work, or even less, then feel a bit bored or stuck and switch to my emails or facebook. I used to put the book I was reading down every few minutes to look something up online or send an ‘urgent’ text. I also used to be so incapable of sitting still that someone sitting opposite me at work once actually had to move because they found me so distracting!

That has changed as a result of my daily meditation, which has gradually made me calmer and more focused.

Becoming more mindful has meant I find it easier to connect with people, I enjoy people’s company more, I’m more interested in what they’ve got to say and less focused on what I want to say. That’s made life a lot more enjoyable. The downside of wanting to talk with everyone though, is that it can make it hard to get any work done! It’s the ‘real world’ distractions that are my biggest challenge.

Thankfully, a friend introduced me a while ago to a technique called Pomodoro. The idea is you set yourself a task for a defined period of time, usually 25 minutes. At the end of that time you take a five minute break. After doing four sessions like that you take a longer break.

The reason it’s called Pomodoro (italian for tomato) is that it was developed by Francesco Cirillo, who used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer. Now there are Pomodoro apps that will time you as well as disabling the internet and notifications on your phone.

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I find it works best when you do it with someone else – you tell each other what you plan to do, ask each other if you did it and then have the break together. The accountability makes a massive difference to my ability to stick to both the task and the timings.

So if you struggle to focus at work, I suggest giving it a go. And I’ll leave you with a quote from K’ung Fu-tse:

“When one’s will is not distracted, one’s power is increased.”

If you liked this blog,  why not use it to distract someone you know?!

If you’d like a free mindfulness taster session at your workplace, get in contact here.

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