10 Tips to Stay Productive and Avoid Distractions

Getting distracted is one of the worst thing that can happen to business people and entrepreneurs – it will rob you of your productivity and just make it generally harder to kick ass and make money.

Here are 10 quick tips for staying productive and away from distractions. They’re condensed from the principles we teach on our blog and in our book, the Asian Efficiency Primer.

1. Silence Your Phone

This one is easy. Turn off push notifications for everything that isn’t an instant messaging app on your phone. This includes Facebook, Twitter and Email, unless you’re Facebook Messenger fiend.

If you really want to focus in and get stuff done, leave your phone nearby but out of sight – like in a desk drawer, or on the table with the screen down.


2. Close the Door

You can silence your phone but it’s not always that easy to silence that yapping co-worker. If you have a corner office, closing the door will achieve this. If not, see #4.


3. Focus Bursts for Email

We usually tell people to limit their email to a couple of times a day in prescheduled blocks. But we’ve found that most people love their email a bit too much to follow that. So here’s what you do instead: tackle email in focus bursts.

What does this mean? It means that if you absolutely must check email all the time, at least do it with focus. When you are looking at email, commit to one email at a time, look at it and FULLY HANDLE IT before moving onto the next email – that means read, forward, reply, delegate or create a task to handle it and then file it away. When you’ve done that, “burst” into the next email, then the next, then the next, then the next.

If stuff comes up while you’re checking email, “burst” into that and give it your full attention before going back to email.


4. Use Headphones

If for whatever reason you don’t have that corner office (yet) or there’s an open-door policy or some other nonsense in your workplace, plug in some headphones. People will simply bother you less – people wearing headphones/earphones at work give the impression that they’re hard at thought, coding the next revolutionary social media platform or something. You don’t even have to listen to music – but if you want to, make it some really neat and productive working music.


5. Delegate

Got something to do that annoys the sh*t out of you? This is why you have employees. And a team.

Find someone who would love to do it (or earn brownie points), write them a plan, brief them, then delegate it. Then check back in a couple of days to make sure it’s done.


6. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is the ultimate force multiplier. Good sleep gives you countless advantages in every area of your life – including your business. Make sure you get enough of it, and make sure it’s mint.


7. Channel Your Heroes

We all have heroes – so why not business heroes?

Pretending to be someone we admire when doing something is a easy hack to tapping into resources and bravado that we didn’t know we had.

About to negotiate a deal? Channel your inner Donald Trump.
Going out to motivate your team? Channel your inner Jack Welch.

Just ask yourself what (your hero) would do and how they would do it, then get to it!


8. Use Pomodoros

Pomodoros are brief spans of time where you commit to doing 1 task and 1 task only, then taking a break. Usually 25 minutes on the task, then 5 minutes break.

You can do this RIGHT NOW (after you finish this article). Pick a task and start a countdown timer on your phone for 25 minutes. When time is up, STOP (no matter where you’re at), rest 5 minutes, then start the timer again.

This is an easy and simple way to give yourself a forced kick in the right direction.


9. Silence the Crowd

You’ve silenced the phone and your co-workers, now it’s time to silence the crowd.

Don’t browse Facebook, Twitter or social media at work – unless it adds to your bottom line (i.e., directly makes you money).

You can save the unlimited-Instagram-browsing for the subway ride home.


10. Ask the Right Questions

To paraphrase Tony Robbins, the quality of our inner dialog and our inner questions determines the quality of our lives.

If you ever get stuck, unmotivated, or just plain distracted, ask yourself this:
What am I doing today, or what have I done today, that is going to help me build the tomorrow I’m committed to?

This will give you focus and help you get back on track.


That’s it – 10 quick tips to help you take back charge of your attention and your work day. You can find more quick and actionable tips in our time management case study for business people or the Asian Efficiency Primer.

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