Even before the pandemic, much of our workday was spent doing anything but focussing. A report by the McKinsey Global Institute found that only 39 per cent of our day is spent doing task-specific work. The rest is email, tracking down information, tracking down colleagues, and all the other ‘busywork’ black holes that suck up our time and consume our attention.

When it comes to focus, our relationship with technology is the ultimate paradox: the same devices that make it possible for us to do our work also drain our time and attention and distract us from work. According to a University of California Irvine study, it takes 25 minutes for us to return to our prior level of focus after being interrupted. And when our devices are constantly pinging us with updates and notifications, these interruptions can really add up.

Using Microsteps – simple, science-backed strategies that are too small to fail – we can create rituals that improve our relationship with technology and leave us recharged and better able to focus.

Here are eight Microsteps to try immediately.

Take a daily tech time-out to improve your focus and reduce stress.
Set time aside to step away from social media and email so you can truly connect with yourself and loved ones.

Audit your phone’s home screen.
Taking just a few minutes to determine which apps you really need to access will help you eliminate distractions.

Make at least one meeting each day device-free.
You’ll be more focused, engaged and productive, and your team will be more creative without distractions from phones and computers.

At the start of every virtual meeting, close any chat programs or email windows.
It’s easy to get distracted by notifications. You’ll be more focused and productive (and more respectful of the meeting organiser) if you give the meeting your full attention, the way you would in person.

Set time on your calendar to manage email each day.
Blocking out time to deal with your email can help avoid constant inbox distractions.

Put your phone away during meals.
This allows you to be fully present and better connect with others, or with your own thoughts.

Before you get into bed, escort your devices out of your bedroom.
Our phones are repositories of our to-do lists, inboxes, projects and problems. Disconnecting will help you sleep better, recharge, and reconnect to your wisdom and creativity.

Choose a time each night to put your phone in Do Not Disturb mode.
Intentionally blocking notifications and calls will help put the day’s demands behind you — and set you up for uninterrupted sleep.

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