Challenge yourself to reduce your number of smartphone apps. If you pick up your phone whenever you’re bored or idle, you weaken your ability to focus. To counteract this, make your phone less compelling. Try evaluating each one of your smartphone apps to determine which ones are critical. Ask yourself:
- What can you do on your computer instead?
- Which apps do you rarely use?
Try offloading the non-essential apps. This approach makes them harder to access, but still available when necessary. You’ll find your phone is less exciting and you’re better able to focus.
Listen to audio tools designed to enhance your brain. Erik recently shifted from Focus At Will to Brain.fm. Their sounds not only drown out distractions but also influence your brainwaves. Studies have shown certain sounds can aid your alertness, focus, or relaxation.
Consider exploring nootropics–safely! Certain supplements really do have data supporting their ability to boost mental performance. For example, Erik likes Alpha Brain, which helps prevent mental fatigue. (I appreciate Examine.com to explore the clinical data behind different supplements.)
Practice “passing the baton” to your future self. At the end of the workday, don’t just jump up and out the door. Take a few minutes to prepare yourself for the next workday. You might tidy your desk, close application windows, or write down tomorrow’s to-do list. The closing ritual makes the next day more manageable, setting you up for success that day.
Cut items from your to-do list — Remember: It’s okay not to get everything done all at once. Overpacking your days and weeks adds up to exhaustion. Instead, ask yourself: When is the right time for you to complete each item? It need not be today!
Let go of what isn’t working. It’s easy to go overkill with apps and rituals and other tools. But being hyper-focused on productivity may make you less productive. If a particular tool or habit or task doesn’t yield a lot, save yourself the effort and just stop doing it. Indeed, the fastest way to eliminate an item from your to-do list…is to decide not to do it!