Staying focused is quickly becoming one of the greatest challenges online marketers face today. For example, you sit down to write an article and end up surfing the net for the rest of the morning… Or you’ve got an information product that you need to finish, but you check your email which leads to a news site, a sports site, a few entertainment sites, some social media sites and before you know it, it’s already 3 hours later and you’ve accomplished nothing except making yourself feel guilty. Does this sound familiar?
According to Dr. B. J. Fogg, Director of Stanford Persuasive Lab, “There’s just one way to radically change your behavior, and that’s to radically change your environment.”
Students who transfer to a new university are much more likely to change their habits than students who remain at the same university. This is true for workers as well. People who change jobs or change job locations are much more likely to also change their habits.
It makes sense. Let’s say that at your previous job you were in the habit of going to a fast food restaurant with your coworkers for lunch. At your new job, your coworkers eat lunch at a healthy restaurant and invite you along. Soon you are eating healthy lunches every day, even on those days when you don’t go to that restaurant, because you’re now in the habit of eating healthful lunches. Enough time goes by, and fast food can even become repulsive to you.
So what happened? Your environment changed and so did the triggers. This made it easy to effect a change.
People who have trouble falling asleep are told to only use their bed for sleeping and for nothing else. If they lay down but they can’t fall asleep, they’re supposed to get up and go to another room. After treating their bed as only a sleep location (and not a reading location, a daydreaming location, etc.) for several weeks, they are generally able to fall asleep within minutes of their head hitting the pillow.
The bed is now a trigger for just one thing – sleeping.
This is why having one location to just work and another location to play is important. If you are mixing your ‘play’ time with your work time in the same home office, you’re asking to get constantly distracted.
If you use a laptop or a tablet for work, this is easily remedied. Simply designate one place in your home where you will do nothing but work – no exceptions.
If you work on a desktop computer, you might consider getting a laptop or tablet for your Internet ‘play’ time.
Another technique is to designate certain times of the day when you are working, no exceptions. This will get you in the habit of always doing work during those times, and it will make it much more difficult to get distracted. Your work times then become routine, eliminating the need to decide each time if you’re going to work. And when you automatically go to work instead of ‘deciding’ to go to work, you eliminate the possibility that you will decide NOT to work.
A third technique is to use triggers. For example, if you always start work right after finishing breakfast, it will become a habit to eat and go to work. You don’t have to think about it, you just do it.
In one study, knowing exactly when and where participants were going to exercise caused them to follow through a whopping 91% of the time. Those who simply exercised when they felt motivated to do so exercised 35% of the time.
Bottom line: If you’re having trouble staying focused, designate an area where you will do nothing but work, combine it with a strict schedule, and you should experience a dramatic increase in your productivity.
When you get more done with less distractions, you’ll not only accomplish your goals faster – researchers tell us you’ll also enjoy increased self-esteem, greater happiness and larger overall satisfaction with your life.