Staying focused on work is always difficult. It’s gotten harder as we’ve move to working from home and the world has become filled with more and more digital distractions. 

Below are some suggestions that might help you increase your focus and decrease your work distractions. 

Turn off the phone – The number one distraction in our world is our mobile phone. An app dings a notification every time someone posts a funny cat video or your mom sends some silly message about Sunday dinner. When you need to focus, turn off the phone. Even if you only turn down the volume and set the phone aside, it allows you to stay focused on what’s happening on your desk, not in your digital life.

Play some quiet music – Classical or ambient music gives your brain some continuity that will allow you to ignore the conversations around you. Quiet music lets your ears have something to listen to that will prevent you from turning every time someone says something or there’s a small noise.

Move away – If you need to focus on something, find someplace quiet. That might mean you need to move your laptop to a meeting room or to a different room in the house. It might be that going to a busy café is the best place to work or study. Our brains turn the sounds around us into white noise that we can focus better with.

Monitoring programs – There are programs that can help you focus. Some keep you from visiting social media sites during certain times of the day. Others will chime or pop up to ask you if you’re still focused on what you’re doing. They’re designed to prevent you from straying from the tasks at hand. 

Know thyself – Some of us focus better in the morning. Others are great in the middle of the night. Know what times of the day you’re at your best. Plan your most intense tasks for the times that your mind is best able to stay on task.

Quiet times – If people popping into your office (or your kids running in and out of your home office) are your biggest distractions, start before everyone else gets in (or up) or work when everyone else is out of the office (or sleeping). Knowing who and what your distractions are is key to eliminating or controlling them.

Virtual world – If you can’t go to a café to get some white noise, try listening to one online. There are millions of recordings of everything you can imagine, like the sounds of a café or crickets in a field, that you can use to help you focus. Find music or sounds that help block out random noises, and more, all online free. 

Distractions take time away from your tasks. Make it easier on yourself by not getting distracted. Control your environment in the ways that best meet your needs.