How to get in focus fast. A 3-part series.
Don't you hate it when you sit down to do something, you start getting really into it, you're perhaps even working something complicated out in your mind and then RRRING! the phone goes or BEEPOO! an email arrives or BOOWEEP! someone messages you or HEY! you're tapped on the shoulder…A few minutes later, you're finally back to what you were doing and then…and then you're thinking where was I?
And those are just the interruptions you had in the past 20 minutes.
Even worse is when no one gets in your way and you can concentrate except – oh look at that, I'll just check the headlines quickly – or – what time is it? I'd better call Kate/Ofer/Ming-li to see what we're doing tonight – or even, when around others – he doesn't need to yell into that phone, we don't all need to hear him.
Interruption is an action beyond your control that forces you to stop what you're doing and react.
Distraction is something that you voluntarily give your attention, diverting it from whatever else you were doing.
To illustrate the difference – if someone taps you on the shoulder for help, you can't simply pretend that they're not there. However if a person just walks by your chair, you don't need to strike up a conversation with them about the broken fax machine that left toner on their hand just like yours.
Following are some tips for staying in the zone, in the flow – that mental sweet spot of unimpeded activity that is so elusive for too many of us. To do that, you'll need to: