5 Ways to Fight Distractions and Get Stuff Done

If you’re like most individuals, you grapple with how to shoo away daily distractions in order to get your stuff done. In fact, according to Psychology Today, “20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions.” This means one-fifth of people struggle to get their stuff done.

What about you? What’s the daily task you put off? Is it a big report, preparing for a presentation, or even small, necessary things like getting to the grocery store?

Are you tired of avoiding tasks? Are you weary of living in a chaotic cycle where circumstances dictate your behaviors and leave you exhausted and disappointed in yourself?

I was tired of procrastinating and not accomplishing my goals, so I compiled a list that has helped me and the hundreds of clients I counsel.

5 Ways to Fight Distractions and Get Stuff Done:

1. Get to bed earlier.
Get the recommended 7–9 hours of sleep. You’re right: this is super basic. And yet, 40 percent of individuals report getting fewer than seven hours of sleep (Gallup). Missing out on sleep equates to missing out on the vital concentration and focus you need to accomplish tasks. Staying up too late increases the likelihood of becoming easily distracted and impairing your judgment.

This week, take notice if a lack of sleep is a culprit toward increased distractions. Then start with a small goal, like getting to bed fifteen minutes earlier. Increase that amount until you’ve met your targeted amount of sleep. 

2. Identify the one thing you want or need to focus on.

Contrary to modern belief, your brain can’t multitask. You may brag about being the best multi-tasker around, but your brain is actually shifting gears continuously. Have you ever driven a manual car? Going from one gear to the next causes exhaustion and damages the car.

Instead of grinding your gears and accomplishing little, find the one thing you want or need to get done. Commit to accomplishing that one thing. If you need to disconnect from the internet, put your phone away or hop off social media for the necessary amount of time. Fix your eyes on that one thing. This will help you create a habit of laser-like focus. What you look at or focus on becomes a beacon for your brain, thereby becoming the primary mission of your brain.

3. Write down the top three things you need to do the night before.

If you went to Vegas to gamble and I directed you to a table that paid out 95 percent of the time, I bet (pun intended) you’d hang out there for the weekend. Writing your goals down is like that. You are 95 percent more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down. Telling a friend intensifies those odds.

I recommend getting these tasks done first, if possible. You’ll feel more confident and determined because you’ve already achieved the most important things for your day. You won’t be using energy in procrastinating, which will provide even more energy to advance in your daily tasks.

4. Identify the deeper issue by asking yourself a few questions:

Is this a pattern? If it is, identify the pattern’s triggers.

Are you afraid of failing?  Or is this something you need help with or more training and education? When you identify the cause of your behavior, you advance a major step forward in tackling the problem.

Ask yourself, "am I setting unrealistic expectations for myself"? We tend to overestimate what we can get accomplished in a day but underestimate what's achievable at the moment. Challenge yourself to set small, realistic goals.

5. Find times to recalibrate your day.

For instance, use key times like noon, 3 p.m., or 6 p.m. to recenter yourself. Set your phone’s alarm to go off a few times a day as a reminder. This is a great way to start a new habit. Sometimes, we become habituated to distractions, which makes it easier to become distracted. Setting an alarm to remind you to get back on task will cue your brain to create a new habit of staying focused.

Distractions will happen. True confession: I just opened up Chrome to do a little online shopping. Yes, I got distracted. Despite a looming deadline whispering the many things I still need to do, my mind craved a break. Breaks are actually a good thing—as long as they’re accompanied with a few parameters. You may want to set a timer to prompt you to return to your project.

Give yourself permission to do the things you like, from online shopping to social media to chatting with a friend. When you maneuver through the daily distractions and get your stuff done, you’ll find that you actually have more time to do what you love.

Be honest with yourself. Be kind. Set realistic expectations. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and try things a new way. Fewer distractions mean getting more done, and getting more done may mean more time to do the things you like—and who wouldn’t want that?

Blessings to you,


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Melissa Clark