Staying Focused in a Noisy World


Ever feel like it’s getting harder and harder to concentrate? I felt the same way until I started taking an active role in my productivity. Over the last year I’ve continued to test and refine my process to maximize my ability to stay focused. My process is by no means perfect and some days I still struggle to stay productive even after taking all necessary steps.

Disable notification badges on App Icons

Are you someone who needs to have everything clean and organized? If so, you’ll understand the struggle of constantly seeing those little numbers next to the app icons on your devices. I found myself opening apps and trying to clear off those numbers anytime I opened my phone. So, I eventually went into my settings and disabled most of them. Now the only alerts I see on my apps are ones which need to be taken care of in a timely manner.

Action Item:

Disable the notification badges on any apps you don’t view as immediate priorities.


Disable all notifications on any apps you don’t view as immediate priorities. Or, better yet, put your device in a “Do Not Disturb” mode when you’re trying to stay focused.


Create a “Focus Routine”

One of the most successful changes I made in my productivity was creating what I call a “Focus Routine.” It’s as straight forward as it sounds. You create a routine you do consistently before you start a period of focused work. Doing so trains your body and mind to know it is time to focus. My routine consist of choosing a task I want to accomplish, closing all unnecessary browser tabs & applications, listening to music with noise-cancelling headphones, and starting my time tracker.

Action Item: 

Create a list of activities you perform to help yourself focus (like listening to music or grabbing a cup of coffee). Combine those activities into a standard routine, and consistently execute the routine every time you want to focus.


Actively track your time

Originally, I didn’t see the need to track my time since I believed I was acutely aware of how I spent it. Eventually I wanted to test how accurate I really was, and let’s just say the results we not what I was expecting. Surprise, surprise, I was way off in my estimations, and if you’re not actively tracking your time, your estimates are likely off as well.

Tracking your time is extremely important because it forces you to think about the activities you are performing and it holds you accountable for how you’re spending your most valuable resource, your time. The other benefit of tracking your time is you’ll start to see what tasks are consuming a majority of your focus.

Action Item:

Setup an account with a time tracking software, and make sure to use it every day. I use Toggl and find it works well for my current needs.


Clean your home

You may be wondering, “How am I suppose to stay focused and be productive if I’m spending time cleaning my home?” The answer is quite simple, a clean home = a clean mind. By cleaning your home and especially your work space, you’re free to focus on the task at hand. Cleaning your home doesn’t mean it has to be spotless, it just needs to be clean enough to the point where it’s not a distraction.

Action Item:

Clean your kitchen. Don’t have any dirty dishes in the sink. Also, put any toys, books, dishes away where they belong. It doesn’t take much to make your home feel clean.