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February 6, 2024 5 mins

Small steps to tame distraction add up to getting big things done

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to Before Breakfast, a production of iHeartRadio. Good Morning.
This is Laura. Welcome to the Before Breakfast podcast. Today's
tip is to aim for a focused thirty minutes rather

(00:21):
than lament the various distractions of life. See if you
can sustain work on something for just half an hour,
you might be surprised at how doable this is and
at all you can get done. So there's a lot
being written and discussed about how distracted everyone is these days.

(00:44):
Some distractions come from external sources kids, house issues if
you're working from home, colleagues and managers who need their
instant messages answered instantly. Some distractions happen because we're bored
and texts. We pick up our phones to answer that
text and then look at three other things and then

(01:06):
decide we need a snack and all. This means that
focus time is hard to come by, and I totally
get that. The trouble is that often when people lament
a lack of focused time or time for deep work,
as cal Newport puts it, or anything else, they feel
like they need to find incredibly long stretches of time,

(01:28):
many hours, maybe a full day, maybe more. And that
would be great. I'm a big fan of taking retreats
when possible, but if you are looking for hours and hours,
that can wind up feeling impossible if you have got
three meetings coming up in the afternoon and a phone

(01:50):
call that you know needs to happen at some point.
So don't make the perfect the enemy of the good.
Don't go looking for multiple hours, maybe don't even go
looking for a single hour. Instead, just see if you
can choose to focus on something for thirty minutes straight.

(02:13):
Pick a project, pick a time that seems more or
less open, challenge yourself to close or silence everything else.
Set a timer. See what happens. It is quite possible
that your boss will email you something urgent, but you
will see it in thirty minutes. It is possible you

(02:34):
will get interrupted by someone barging into your office or cubicle,
but you can also put headphones on as a subtle
leave me alone kind of signal. If you are working
from home, it is possible a delivery person will ring
the doorbell, or that contractor who is supposed to show
up sometime this week finally will But it is also

(02:57):
possible that none of that will happen if you wait
until you know you will have the perfect time, you
might never try. And if you wait until you know
you will have hours to work, well, you might never
have hours. So be realistic. Aim for thirty focused minutes.

(03:19):
If you start itching to check email or something else,
just stop yourself, redirect yourself back to the task at hand.
If you find you need something else, just make a
note of it to find it later. Try not to
let yourself be drawn away. And then when your timer
goes off, evaluate did you make any progress? Were you

(03:44):
able to sustain your focus for thirty minutes? If not,
why not? If you did, how did it feel. I
am all for baby steps. Maybe focusing for thirty minutes
will help you figure out how to car about hours
for deeper work, and that would be great. But even
if you can only sustain work for thirty minutes, that's

(04:07):
actually okay. Something is almost always better than nothing, So
aim for something, and something has a good chance of
happening in the meantime. This is Laura. Thanks for listening,
and here's to making the most of our time. Thanks

(04:37):
for listening to before breakfast. If you've got questions, ideas,
or feedback, you can reach me at Laura at Laura
vandercam dot com. Before Breakfast is a production of iHeartMedia.
For more podcasts from iHeartMedia, please visit the iHeartRadio app,

(04:59):
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

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