The $2 Productivity Hack That Will Crush Your Distractions

We might know that true multitasking is a myth, but a lot of people (me included) revelled in our multitasking skills.

Personally, my imagined ability to multitask was actually just me putting a positive spin on my ability to get easily distracted. And in today’s world of gadgets and gizmos, getting distracted is inevitable. After all, a lot of modern technologies are designed for you to keep checking them forever.

Photo by Manan Chhabra on Unsplash

Now that I’m working at home, I’ve been reminded just how easy it is to fall into the multitasking rabbit hole.

Old habits die hard, I guess.

I’ve spent way too long on different productivity hacks, gadgets, tools, and apps, and I suspect I’m not the only one.

For me, there’s been the Pomodoro Method, Don’t Break the Chain, the Eisenhower Method, time trackers, task trackers, app blockers, the list goes on.

I don’t really want to think about the amount of break ups I’ve had with productivity tools.

If you’re like me, it might make you feel a little better to know that 89% of people say they waste time on non-work tasks every work day.

After years of wasted time, productivity sinkholes and focus-loss, one day I came across an incredibly simple solution. There was nothing to install on any devices, no bank-busting subscriptions to pay for, and no length books to read.

The solution?

A notebook.

Now that’s something you can buy for two bucks. Or probably less, if you’re a fellow-writer with notebooks lying around everywhere. Empty, of course, except for the dreams of future novels.

What’s the method?

If you have any fleeting ideas, thoughts, or alarm bells ringing in your head, don’t immediately act on it.

That means when your brain thinks “hey, wonder what’s going on on Facebook/your focus-draining vice of choice” you don’t reflexively open that tab.

Instead, you write that thought down, no matter how small, in your notebook. Just give it enough detail that you’ll remember whatever it was later when you look back over it.

For instance, at the end of the day mine reads:

  • Wine tour
  • Social media plan
  • Invoice P
  • Email venue
  • Msg mum

When you work on this list is up to you.

If you’re already smashing the Pomodoro Method, pick a few of the small things you thought about to complete in your short breaks — it’s probably enough time to shoot off that email.

Alternatively, you can breathe a complete sigh of relief at the end of your totally-productive 100% focused work day and go over your list with your wine/tea/coffee.

The second option is my favourite because it gives me the chance to organise my random day thoughts into my previously useless to-do journal. I can sort those thoughts however I want to maximise productivity for the next day.

In this case, I might choose to dedicate an hour in the morning tomorrow and make that social media plan a priority.

This works well for any of those boring small work tasks you might need to do and get easily distracted with, like going over emails, meeting notes, or catching up on industry news.

Rather than becoming distracted by these things and spending more time than necessary on them, now a larger chunk of time can be dedicated to get them all out of the way at once.

Plus there’s another benefit to it. I’m finally putting all these beautiful notebooks to use and, as any writer knows, that means I have an excuse to buy more.

I’m going to add that to my list.

Freelance writer and proofreader for hire.

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