The art of staying focused in a distracted world

I recently had my numerology chart done and the results were fascinating. 


In its simplest form, numerology is the study of numbers and their significance in our lives, and it dates alllll the way back to (*name drop*) Mr. Pathagoras himself. Numerology experts believe that you can learn a lot about yourself by taking a deep dive into your numbers; the numbers give you insight into what you are meant to learn in your lifetime, where you excel, and your life’s purpose, among other things.


Each number represents different qualities, so part of the exercise is converting your birth name and date into a series of numbers. By adding up the numbers in your chart, you find out what qualities exist (or don’t). 


It was no surprise, then, that my 5’s were off the charts, while 8’s were virtually nonexistent. This means that my natural tendency is to have many things going on at the same time (5), and also that I basically drive the struggle bus when it comes to organization and structure (8). This is why I work best in bustling coffee shops and take on multiple projects at the same time, and also why I frequently get lost in the shuffle of my own thoughts.


Which leads me to the topic at hand: 


How to stay focused in a distracted world. 



I’m sure you've experienced the juggling act of conflicting priorities. How can you possibly focus on building your business when you need to pay the umpteenth monthly bill? How do you spend time growing your email list when you have to finish five projects that were due yesterday to your clients? And the list drags on.


As a result of my “5” makeup, I’ve spent countless hours testing different strategies to stay focused and boost productivity. It is no easy task for us distract-aholics, but it can be done.


A combination of the below tools are what works best for me and I hope they work for you, too.


Ommwriter

Good for: Distraction-free writing


There are countless distraction-free writing apps out there today, but Ommwriter is one of my favorites. Equipped with a customizable background and music selection, Ommwriter is a full-screen writing app that blocks out all other distractions. It also gives you a word count, which is great if you’re working on your daily writing habit. When you’re done, you can copy the text into a different program or save it as a .txt file. 


Ommwriter is a donation-based app that asks for a minimum of $5 to download. Totally worth it. 

 

2. Down Dog App

Down Dog App

Good for: A daily stretch break

 

I have so much to say about this app, but I’ll leave you with this: If you’re struggling to incorporate movement into your daily routine, Down Dog is the app for you. In as little as 12 minutes, you can stretch, breathe, break a little sweat, and calm your mind. It’s an instant remedy when distraction hits. Oh, and it’s free.

 

3. Todoist

Todoist to do list

Good for: Prioritizing tasks

 

This is the simplest “to do” list app I’ve found. Todoist has a desktop and mobile app, so your list travels with you. With the free version, you can create different projects, prioritize your top tasks each day, and track your progress. I use this every day to prioritize tasks and keep myself in check.


Plus, what’s more rewarding than checking things off a “to do” list? 

 

4. Toggl

Toggl time tracker

Good for: Tracking that precious thing of yours called time

 

There is nothing worse than feeling like you busted your ass all day, but have nothing to show for it. Enter: Toggl.  


After testing multiple time tracking apps, I chose Toggl for its ease of use and simple reporting structure. Your time is your most valuable asset, especially as a business owner, so knowing where you spend your time is essential. I keep the desktop app up all day as I work and by the end of the day, I can see exactly where my time was spent. 


This helps track the amount of time certain projects take (especially important if you bill clients hourly), identify time sucks, and plan your days more efficiently. For example, I now know from experience that I need to block at least 3 hours if I’m brainstorming a writing project for a client. 

 

5. Calm

Calm app

Good for: Finally starting (and sticking to) a meditation practice

 

We could spend an entire post discussing the benefits of a regular meditation practice, but even 5 minutes a day could make a huge difference in your ability to focus


Calm is an app that guides you through regular meditations. The best part? They offer sessions as short as 2 minutes for those days when it’s damn near impossible to sneak away from your desk. 


If you’re really digging the app and want to front some money for a membership, they have extended meditations to help with everything from sleep to a calmer commute. 

 

6. Momentum

Momentum desktop

Good for: Starting your day with a clear focus

 

Momentum is a Chrome browser extension you can install that replaces your homepage with the time and a lovely, full-screen photo of a magical place in the world. The home screen also asks you one simple question: “What is your main focus for today?” 


If you’ve ever experienced burnout from a list of to-do’s, this tool is a great way to pick ONE focus area for the day that you can work toward. 


Also, if “browser extension” is a new term for you, you can think of them like apps for your favorite internet browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer). 

 

7. YouTube

 
 

Good for: [Focus] music to your ears

 

Whaaaaat? Isn’t YouTube the mecca of distraction?  


Yes. And no.


You may have heard of sites like Brain.fm (another great productivity tool!) that are making waves across the web. These sites are using the science of music to create more productive environments.


However, Brain.fm charges you (albeit a very minimal fee) to use their service, so I decided stay true to my #ballinonabudget lifestyle and go down the rabbit hole of YouTube to find something similar - and free. 


A simple search for “Reiki focus music” will yield hundreds of videos (like the one above) ranging from 1-8 hours (8 hours, can you imagine?) of beautiful sounds that help move me from a place of distraction to a place of flow. 


We all work differently and your music choice may not impact your work at all, but it has been the #1 game changer in my productivity. Each morning, I pull up YouTube, find a video that I won’t need to touch for 2-3 hours, and then promptly minimize the screen to avoid getting derailed by puppy videos.


So, that’s it. Seven tools that make up my productivity tool box and keep my “5’s” in check. 


If you made it this far...


I would love to know your tricks of the trade when it comes to creating a more productive work environment for yourself. Let me know in the comments!


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