Use blocking software on your computer to literally block out distractions by blocking out sites is a powerful step in dramatically increasing your focus and optimizing your productivity. Even if you think you can stay focused, sometimes in those breaks or while you’re waiting for a page to load, your mind (or at least mine) will quickly rush to open a tab for some social media or news. Just thinking of one of those pages right now may make you want to stop reading and open a new tab to see the latest shared stories, photos, news, etc. If you’re still here with me, then lets set up a way to stop this from happening to us.
I have found that the easiest way to shut down my mind from wandering is by using software that proactively blocks access to the websites. This may sound fairly radical, however, once your brain knows that the sites are blocked for a given amount of time, it stops suggesting to you that you open one. And if you try anyway, it closes the page or sends you over to a specific page, which I set as my to-do list such as Todoist or Any.Do (set it as your homepage). This means that I have even created a positive productive feedback loop for mind wandering, where if I am distracted and try to go to the social media, I am redirected directly back to productivity and the task at hand.
The best software I have found for this FocusMe, it has the most effective blocking and does it at system level (can also blocks apps). It can be set so that to turn off the blocking, you have to type long and complicated strings of text and they even have a setting you can turn on that makes it so that even resetting your computer won’t allow you to turn it off. That’s serious blocking power, and thankfully at this point I have not had to go that far. I find once I have turned on the software, my mind is usually much more tameable and directable because the rest of my mental bandwidth is fully on the task at hand, or at least not on thinking about what is going on in the world.
In fact, I am writing this article, and I will write all of these articles in this series using the exact methodology I explained here. As the founder of nootropics company, I am one of the few people in the world whose sole job it is to work to optimize the performance of their brain. Nootropics play a major part in empowering my abilities to learn and increase my performance, but I have also come to recognize that there are other traits and activities that can further increase the effects. This includes have a strong foundation to build on because even if you have the best nootropics in your mind, without the means to put your brain to use, you are not going to reap the full benefits.
I recommend you utilize the pomodoro technique, which is a series of 20-25 minute blocks, with 5 minute breaks between them. I typically like to do 20 minute sprints, with 5 minutes of break in between them. I set the timer on FocusMe to do 3 20 minute blocks, with a 5 minute break in between them. This allows me to pick one big task to work on and then just stay focused on it. If I am unable to finish it in my 20 minute allotment, then I will do it in the next one. I make a to-do list, then estimate the times I think it will take (or number of pomodoros) and go from there.
The most productive periods I have are when I am acting like a machine not thinking except to carry out the task at hand, when I am a vehicle from which these tasks flow. That is the idea of flow state which we will discuss later on, but for now, just setting up an environment for success is a great first step!