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Debilitated by distraction? 11 powerful focus-building resources to free you to create

By Cathy Hutchison
August 1, 2016 8:04 am EST

Topics: Church in the Digital World
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Think about that one thing that is always torpedoing your focus.

What? It isn’t just one thing? Of course it isn’t.

Here are links to 11 powerful tools to solve your specific focus problem, so that you can sit down and actually create something:

Try an ambient noise generator to block distractions in your environment.

Sound masking is used in offices to help create acoustic separation in open offices. But did you know that designing your own soundscape can be highly effective in supporting your mind’s ability to focus? What to check out:

Focus@Will (visit link) contains a variety of music stations all scientifically designed to support your brain’s capacity to focus. Focus@Will is a subscription service that offers a 30-day trial and runs ~$12 monthly with discounts if you purchase a year in advance. You can set a 90-minute focus block to set your intention to work.

Hipstersound (visit link) offers coffee shop sounds from San Francisco and Paris with options for adding other ambient tracks to the soundscape. Basic service is free and you can upgrade to access premium sounds for $7.

Noisili (visit link) allows you to layer ambient sounds like rain, wind, ocean or just plain white noise to create your perfect working environment. Noisili also has a timer you can set for productivity sessions. The Noisili app is available from iTunes or Google Play currently at $1.99.

RainyMood (visit link) does one thing: it plays the sound of rain. The app is $3.99 available from iTunes or Google Play.

Keep yourself from wasting time chasing internet squirrels.

Ever start a Google search for royalty-free stock photos and wind up reading a post called “23 Reality Stars You Didn’t Know Were Secretly Dating Bigfoot?” (It happens to the best of us.) These apps keep THAT from happening:

Freedom (visit link) works across your devices—tablet, computer and smart phone—to block distracting websites keeping you focused. You can get started for free, and cover all your devices for less than $2.50 a month.

The AIM plugin for Chrome (visit link) fights procrastination by letting you enter the time period you want to work. During that time, you are not able to visit the sites you’ve listed in your Chrome browser.

Rescue Time (visit link) takes a different approach. Rather than blocking you, it tracks time spent on applications and websites, giving you an accurate picture of your day and providing detailed reports based on your activity. The base level of the service is free and premium features are available for a monthly or discounted annual fee. Since we tend to manage what is measured, seeing that we spent an hour watching a parkour goat video can change our behavior.

Batch process e-mail.

Batch processing is a time management strategy that has you group together similar types of actions to gain efficiency. (For example, you might write several blog posts at once, or spend 20 minutes making phone calls.) Here are a couple of ways to batch e-mail:

Unroll.Me (visit link) is an app that lets you batch process subscription e-mails. You can unsubscribe from unwanted emails all at once, consolidate sales/newsletters/listserv emails into a convenient daily digest called the Rollup. The Rollup appears in your inbox every day at the time you choose. Looking at subscription e-mails in a batch allows us to scan more quickly.

Set up an autoresponder. Productivity gurus like Tim Ferris and Leo Babauta only process e-mail once or twice a day rather than staying in constant connection. Want to try the strategy? The best time to test drive it might be when you are in the middle of a conference or holiday season. Set up an autoresponder in your e-mail service that says something like, “We are preparing for [Insert Name of Event] and are in the middle of all of the details that make this conference amazing. I will be checking e-mail at 11am and 3pm and will respond at those times.” Of course, if you use an autoresponder, you’ve just made a promise and will need to deliver, but it helps set expectations and saves you time by allowing you to batch process all at once.

Nothing says “don’t bother me” to your co-workers like a pair of ginormous headphones

When I asked my co-worker Ryan Knox, what he recommended with regard to don’t-bother-me headphones, he replied, “While Beats are the ever popular choice in extravagant appearance without luxury sound quality, these (visit link) should make a stronger stop-now-and-back-away-slowly statement. The yellow tone and iconic markings may take inspiration from the Bothriechis schlegelii, which while not usually aggressive will strike when harassed.“ (So many reasons I love working at Idibri.)

Not enough? There is also the sensory overload bubble helmet. (visit link)

In a digital world, implementing strategies to manage distractions is a life skill. Luckily, the digital world is also big on coming up with solutions.

 


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