Over the last few months, I have had a few questions in my working life on how I stay so focused. I have made myself a fairly rigid routine, particularly when working in the office, of putting my headphones on and pumping out work. The weird reason I’m able to do this when seemingly everyone else chats or bangs away answering emails is my acceptance of how distractible I am.
We all have a section of our brain dedicated to instant gratification. People often refer to is as our chimp brain, Dave Brailsford calls it our Lizard brain, it’s the part of us that isn’t interested in anything but itself. It urges you to stop when you’re exercising, it talks you into another slice of cake, and it keeps you scrolling social media. Whatever it desired, if I am not paying attention it’s in charge.
The great thing is I have realised this and put things in place to stop it. Trained myself to quieten it down in certain situations and removed the temptations it loves. Once my headphones are on, and I’m listening to Brain FM, I’m pushed into a kind of flow state and it doesn’t stand a chance. My phone is out the way, I’m in Work Focus mode, and there’s nothing but a notebook by my side.
There are no superpowers going on here. It seems like everything in our modern lives is made into distract us. So, you need to remove them. Phones, apps, web browsers, whatever it is, before long your monkey brain will get its way and whisk you away. Simply by recognising how distractible I am, could I begin to combat it. As soon as I feel the itch I recognise it and push it away, and if it becomes too much I tend to have a walk around for 5 mins. In this time it important to be disciplined, I wouldn’t dare look at my phone!