Mastering Distractions: 5 Simple Strategies That Work

Key Takeaways

  • Log Distractions: Notice and record distractions to understand and manage them better.
  • Write Down Ideas: Jot down distracting thoughts to clear your mind, revisiting them later for potential insights.
  • Use a TO-DO List: A to-do list acts as a personal manager, helping prioritize tasks and focus on what needs to be done.
  • Smile: A simple act of smiling can reduce stress and refocus your mind on tasks.
  • Listen to Music: Music can help eliminate external noise and improve concentration, tailored to individual preferences.

Ever found yourself surrounded by distractions or struggling to focus? Don’t beat yourself up for it!
I have been on that rollercoaster of distractibility, and let me tell you – it’s quite the ride.

Distractions usually come in two basic forms – External and Internal.

External distractions are the stimuli that are in front of us and around us – the smell of baking, the noise from your neighbour or just all the tabs open on your laptop.

Internal distractions, however, are the intrusive thoughts that disrupt our concentration. Like that statement from a colleague that is just stuck in your mind and bothering you all the time.

Remember, we all get distracted.

The trick is to be aware that we are being taken off course and that we need to get back to work.

Here are my top 5 strategies that work for me all the time.

1. Keep a log of our daily distractions

Bringing the frequency and category of distractions into our awareness is often an eye-opener.

I’ve worked with people who just want to get more focused and get it fixed NOW. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but it does not work that way.

I often take a page out of Stephen Covey’s book – Go Slow to Go Fast. Trust me, this works!

Just start by noticing when you get distracted, make a note and then get back to work. Quite often this exercise alone can reveal lessons that allow us to move forward more efficiently and reduce our distractions.

2. Write down that distracting idea

You know what – this might come in handy later.

I work with a very successful entrepreneur who is uniquely able to multi-task and get focused work done in a very effective way, but that does not come easy to him.

He keeps this notebook full of ideas. If there is an idea that comes to his mind when he is focused on another task, he just quickly writes it down in the notebook and then gets back to the task at hand. Once he has completed all his priority tasks for the day, he then returns to his notebook to reflect more on the idea he had and put his full energy on it. This works wonders as it helps him think rationally about it.

Food for thought: If you ever get an idea (may be a million-dollar one), write down everything that you are thinking of about it on a piece of paper. Revisit that paper after a couple of days and trust me you will be able to either find flaws in your own idea or come up with better refinement.

3. Maintain a TO-DO list

Having a To-Do list and treating it like your manager who holds you responsible can be a game-changer in getting things done.

As simple and obvious as this sounds, there are a lot of people who have a challenge making this part of their day. When individuals try this exercise, they typically find it keeps them focused and relieves some stress. They can move from “I have too much to do” to “I know what needs to get done and I can do it”.

Find a way to make a TO-DO list part of your daily schedule and see how it works for you.

Just a quick insight – I had this article as one of the tasks on my to-do list for today wink

4. Smile smile

Yes, this is one of the simplest things that can help you get back to work once you are distracted.

Most of the time, stress is something that leads our minds to wander and get distracted. So just a quick chill and smile (even if it’s for no reason).

As silly as it sounds, when we laugh at our shortcomings, it minimizes that negative energy that hinders performance and allows for effortless adjustments.

5. Find the right music and don a set of headphones

This may not work for everyone, but it works wonders for me.

I like to start with an inspirational, upbeat tune that sets the tone for “I’ve got to get this done” and then settle into background music that drowns out the outside world.


There is no one size fits all.

Experiment with different tactics and keep score. Gamify how you made one day more productive than the next. You may find that your successful tactics in the morning don’t work as well as in the afternoon.

I’m always on the lookout for great distraction hacks. What’s your go-to strategy for staying focused?

Let’s share our best tips for navigating the distractions together!