Don’t get distracted and waste valuable time! Efficient time management is an incredibly valuable skill set. However, all the to-do lists and flawless scheduling in the world won’t make you proficient if you are unable to also maintain focus. Technology has certainly made leaps and bounds in the last couple of decades, but with progress also comes a downside.

You might be reading this right now on a smartphone. And when you are finished reading (because hey, this is valuable content) you’ll likely open another app, and then another, until you look up and realize you’ve lost an hour of time. But at least while you were aimlessly scrolling you learned that flamingos can live up to 70 years and some fruit flies are genetically resistant to getting drunk.

Distractions are everywhere! Often we believe we are multitasking by handling a distraction while attempting to also work on another task. On the contrary, what we end up with is divided attention and a lousy job on both fronts. We get sucked in by notifications and alerts vying for our attention.

Sadly, we can’t make the distractions completely disappear, but we can learn ways to successfully combat them and stop wasting valuable time!

Below are the most common distractions and how to fix them:

Wireless Personal Devices

Smartphones and smartwatches are designed by their developers to be purposely addictive. Instant gratification is the reward and our brains like rewards… especially instant ones.

The best way to keep your personal devices from being a distraction is to turn them off (gasp!) or put them on airplane mode. If that’s not an option, go for the old “Out of sight, out of mind” concept and tuck it away in a drawer, purse or coat pocket with the volume turned down.

Social Media

Communicating without even saying a word is the new way of keeping in touch. It’s entirely too easy to lose half a day scrolling and trolling. Don’t think that’s accurate? Use one of the many apps for time tracking to find out just how much time you’re spending on each app.

Log out. Turn off notifications for these apps. They are a slow death to productivity. Control your social media presence, don’t let it control you!


This one is a definite attention grabber. And chances are you’ve got multiple email accounts; work, personal, school, etc. If notifications pop up or slide over every time you receive an email, you’re doing it wrong!

Allot a specific time of the day at work for addressing the inbox and leave your personal email out of the picture until you are on your own time.


In an office setting there is bound to be the office clown or gossiping Gertrude who swings by just to “catch up” or ask a nonsensical question. Before you know it you’re 10 minutes into a conversation about the boss’ secret stash of candy bars and kalua. Don’t fall for that trap! It’s disruptive and really none of your business anyway.

Use a “Do Not Disturb” signal so colleagues know not to interrupt your flow. Close your office door. If you don’t have a door, light a candle, turn on a battery-powered tiny lantern, put a sign on your desk or try some headphones (enjoy the silence or play some music, your choice) and just ignore them.


Being disorganized is a major hindrance to focus. Files in disarray, papers in piles, sticky notes everywhere… who can keep their eyes on the prize with all that mess? Clean it up. It’s just that simple.


Sometimes unavoidable, but meetings eat up precious time that could otherwise be spent on getting other things done. Decline the invite if it’s not mandatory and your presence isn’t necessary, or if another person in your department is already going.

Anxiety & Stress

It’s not abnormal to be stressed or anxious at work, school or home for any number of reasons; an upcoming deadline, an exam, an argument with a loved one, etc. This diminishes our capacity to focus and keep on task, and it’s understandable.

To fix it, try destressing with meditation, a 20-minute walk outside, or talk it out. Also, try to avoid caffeinated drinks during times of heightened anxiety.


Working through lunch and skipping meals happens quite often. The problem is your brain needs fuel. You are essentially starving your body and brain of the resource it needs most to make it through the day.

Drink plenty of water and keep healthy snacks on hand for times when breaks and your lunch hour aren’t looking promising.

It would be impossible to list every distraction which devours our precious time, but you get the point. You might need to think outside the box to counter whatever hinders your progress. Change your view of distractions as obstacles to overcome instead of excuses for fruitless labor.

Your goals deserve a fighting chance! Don’t allow distractions to get in the way of your drive to succeed in every aspect of your life!