The image above effectively illustrates the reasons why you might have asked the following questions to yourself at some point or the other:
- Why am I not able to focus on the task at hand?
- Why do I keep wasting my time on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp?
- Why do I feel like I haven’t achieved enough at the end of the day/week/month?
- Why does it feel like the time flies away and I’m not able to get anything done?
Before you beat yourself up about it, know that you’re not alone. I’ve asked similar questions to myself and I know that many of my friends too, have. Distractions are the biggest obstacle to productivity.
Many people have suggested their solutions to the distraction problem and I’ve tried using almost all of them to change this behavior of mine:
- Productivity tools
- Better morning routine
- Pomodoro technique
- Time management and scheduling, etc.
Nothing helped because all these solutions work without constraint. None of these solutions completely stop you from going back to Facebook/YouTube in the middle of a coding/focus session.
I firmly believe that people perform better under constraints and thus, my solution to the distraction problem is Deadlines. But wait! There’s a catch here.
You shouldn’t be the one who keeps track of your own deadline. Have someone else do that. They will hold you accountable for your work.
Process of keeping a deadline that makes you super-productive:
- Break your task down to a smaller chunk: Do not think of the task as a one big chunk. Break it down to smaller parts so that you can analyze it better and finish it faster.
- Estimate the time it would take for you to finish a particular task: If you are a software engineer, multiply that time by 3. I’ve seen software engineers, including myself, overestimate their capability to finish a task on time, mainly because we don’t factor in the unknowns that might come our way. After the first few times, you’ll get better at estimating the time correctly.
- Have someone else hold you accountable: Ask your friend/colleague who understands your work to hold you accountable for finishing the task by the deadline you set.
- Get to work.
You’ll notice a huge change: Your distractions will reduce drastically because you now have someone you know to answer to. You don’t want to fail their expectations and thus, you’ll work harder without distracting yourself to finish the task.
I started using this technique a couple of weeks ago and it has definitely helped me and changed the way I work. I hope it helps you too. Would love to hear back from you about how you applied this technique and whether it was helpful or not.