If you have difficulties to focus on something it is probably because you are easily distracted. It’s likely that those distractions are caused by outside influences such as your environment or the people around you.
We usually get distracted by things we don’t know, like a totally new environment, or by sudden events like an odd noise or somebody talking.
Thus, we are the most likely to remain focused if the environment is known and if outside events are as few as possible.
That means that if you like to work with always the same type of music it is because you probably know the song by heart and thus don’t get distracted anymore; it’s just background noise for you. Somebody else, who hears it for the first time, might get very distracted by it.
The same goes for the environment you’re working in. If you are working from a new place, it is very likely that you get distracted by all the random events happening around you. It’s certainly different if you are already familiar with the place: you know from where to expect some noise, which kind of noise and you generally know what is going on in this particular environment. After a while you get used to it and it will be easier for you to concentrate. Here is when the Spider Technique comes in.
If you hold a vibrating tuning fork next to a spider web, he will come out because he thinks it is a prey. If you repeat this over and over, the spider won’t come out anymore because he has learnt that there will be no prey waiting for him.
The same goes for your distractions. You can train yourself and learn to not pay attention to the distractions around you.
Here are 3 ground rules in order to apply the Spider Technique:
Every time you’re distracted and you want to look up or listen to a conversation, force yourself to re-focus. Remind yourself that this is just a distraction and refocus on your work.
2) Know your weaknesses
Be aware of what you’er naturally distracted by: are you more distracted by visual or audio distractions or both?
3) Avoid your weaknesses
If you get distracted by seeing people walking by or a post-it reminding you of another task etc., then try to keep your workplace as clean as possible and avoid crowded spaces. It can also help to point the view of your workplace towards a wall or a calm environment.
If you’re distracted by noise or other people talking, then try to find the quiet spots which are less crowded and help yourself with a good pair of headphones and some soothing sounds to mask other noises.
Here’s is a guide on how to minimize the risk of outside influences.