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In our efforts to be more productive, sometimes we focus too much on writing down our to-do lists and schedules, but not on actually implementing them. This happens because every day we are surrounded by many distractions that take our attention away from what matters. And sometimes, if there are no distractions, we make one up. This is a valid point made by Srinivas Rao founder of the popular podcast, the Unmistakable Creative.

To-do lists are indeed a crucial part of the process, but only if you use them right. Let’s take a look at what we can do to better manage our attention.

  1. Have Some Device-Free Time When You Wake Up

Checking your smartphone first thing in the morning does not help your ability to focus. Instead, it leaves you worried or anxious to reply to a certain e-mail or a Facebook post made by a friend. So, try to avoid this if possible.

  1. Focus on Important Activities

This is the key point. You ultimately want to be able to focus on the task you are doing and don’t give in to distractions. Of course, this is easier said than done for those without discipline.

If your problem is small distractions like constantly checking your phone, try a method to help you focus. For instance, the Pomodoro technique is a good one. It consists of short periods of intense work, followed by small pauses when you can finally check your Facebook account.

  1. Avoid Multitasking

We’ve talked about this in previous posts. The thing is, multitasking might give you the illusion of productivity but have you stopped to check your progress on each individual task? You will probably find that it is minimal. This is because your brain takes some time to get into a task and start flowing. If you’re always switching, you’re never reaching true focus.

This is where to-do lists are important. Organize your tasks into a list so you don’t forget them and tackle them one at a time. You’ll see you’re much more productive this way.

  1. Learn to Value Downtime

Unfortunately, we don’t have true downtime nowadays, because during downtime we instantly get our phones out and start doing whatever. So try to really embrace downtime and don’t mess with your smartphone. This allows your brain to rest, organize your ideas, and even come up with new ones.