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4 Tech Hacks That Can Improve Your Focus    

4 Tech Hacks That Can Improve Your Focus

Art by FISK

By Hayden Humphrey, a MyWellbeing success coach

The clock reads 6:30pm. I’ve been working for about 10 hours at this point. The day has been busy, and I’m mentally exhausted. I would like to shut down and call it a night, but I don’t feel like I can. Although I felt busy the whole day, and although I did a lot of things, I don’t feel like I was productive. It’s hard to say what I actually accomplished…

This used to be a typical day for me. Being very active, feeling busy and frantic, but not necessarily feeling productive or focused.

Over time, through work with my Coaches and thorough self-reflection, I’ve come to identify one of the core reasons for this: technology. 

During the workday, my attention is constantly getting pulled in a million directions. I would be refreshing my email, checking my phone for new texts, or opening Facebook for the 15th time in the last five minutes. 

I was “doing” a lot, but it was the wrong kind of doing. It was a dopamine-fueled, focus-destroying franticness. Because I had no limits on my technology, it was ruling me. Tech was keeping me locked in cycles of short-term gratification with no possibility for the kind of meaningful, focused work that leads to real results.

It makes sense why this was happening.

As humans, we are biologically wired for connection and novelty. Having access to millions of people at our fingertips, coupled with multiple devices, coupled with tech companies creating products literally designed to keep our attention for as long as possible, it’s no wonder we have trouble focusing.

Despite these challenges of developing a better relationship with technology and learning how to focus more effectively, the experience has been absolutely worth it for me.

Undistracted, I can knock out huge projects in the span of an hour or two, which in a distracted state might take multiple days. I also enjoy the creation process so much more, as well as the benefits of being a more present and creative human being. 

And the beautiful part here is that the solutions to this predicament can actually be found in the predicament itself. I want to share with you some technology hacks that you can use to reclaim your attention and focus.

1. Turn Off Notifications, Turn On Do Not Disturb.

This is the easiest hack I’m going to give, and you can do it right now.

Seriously. Stop reading for a second, and navigate to Settings>Notifications on your device. Then turn off ALL of the notifications from all of your applications.

This might sound extreme, but the main issue with unregulated notifications is that you have no control over when you receive them. At any moment, a notification can insert itself into your life, interrupt your work, and steal your attention from the task at hand (studies show that it takes about 30 minutes to get refocused after a distraction).

Turning off all notifications puts the power back in your hands so that you decide when and where you receive this information. Remember, the world is not going to end if someone has to wait a few hours for you to respond to their IG DM.

When you couple turning off notifications with turning on Do Not Disturb, you can get back to working uninterrupted for hours at a time.

2. Block Distracting Websites And Apps

I don’t know about you, but left to my own unconscious devices, I’ll navigate almost immediately to Facebook or Instagram on my computer. And once I’m sucked in, all focus is lost.

Using an app like Just Focus can be great for eliminating distraction potential by literally blocking access to certain websites and applications. It’s also a great way to bring awareness to how often you’re clicking on and opening up social media sites.

There are also more niche apps like Facebook News Feed Eradicator that hide the Facebook News Feed and instead show a motivational quote. This is great if you use Facebook for business and don’t want to get sucked in as soon as you open the site.

3. Do One Thing At A Time

The idea here is to be intentional about how you set up your workspace both physically and technologically to eliminate the possibility of getting distracted. 

For example, I’ve tried to eliminate any “distraction hooks” while writing this article. My computer is in full-screen mode, meaning I can’t see any other applications or notifications. I’ve turned off the WhatsApp and iMessage apps so that I don’t feel tempted to look when messages come in. I’ve also put my phone on airplane mode and physically placed it on the couch behind me totally out of reach.

I am, for all intents and purposes, locked in.

This makes it much easier to lose myself in a project for an extended period of time, and ensure that I’m focusing on one thing at a time.

4. Take A Social Media Cleanse

This will likely be the hardest of the hacks I’ve outlined, but it will definitely be the most rewarding.

For many of us, distractions from social media have become completely normal, and we’re not fully aware of the toll it takes on our ability to focus.

By taking a social media detox, we can step away completely and gain perspective on how it feels to be undistracted. Then, when we return at a later point, we can have a deeper appreciation for what focused, present life can be like.

Try to make the detox as intentional as possible. Turn your phone all the way off and hide it in the closet so you’re not tempted. Plan other things for you to do without your tech, go for a walk, get coffee with a friend. If you’re really bold, spend the entire day doing nothing but sitting with yourself in silence.

Spend the day without your technology available and notice how uncomfortable you feel.  Recognize that discomfort. Question that discomfort. Let yourself be bored! True creativity and mental horsepower can come from an undistracted, totally focused brain.

Even if you return to the tech as soon as it’s done, a detox can still do wonders for your mental health.

Keep the conversation going by commenting on this story below. You can also connect with us about whatever’s on your mind by texting The Local Optimist Hotline at 310.299.9414.