Finding consistent focus and productivity is challenging for everyone – especially with the rise of distracting and addicting tech. With our devices always within reach, we are left resisting the call of the entire internet and its endless flow of information and possibility.
Quick checks too often turn into 30 minute sessions – distracting us from the task at hand and the people in front of us. On average it takes 23 minutes to regain focus once distracted.
Our brains are wired to notice small changes in our environment because this used to serve an evolutionary benefit to survival. Shifting your attention to a rustle or small noise could help save you from a snake bite or incoming predator. But since most of us no longer need to run away from bears and predators, our ability to be distracted is now more of a frustrating disadvantage that inhibits the deep concentration that is required by our jobs and work.
Luckily, a tool like Freedom can remove the temptation from the equation by blocking the distractions before they grab your attention. Here are three ways you can use Freedom recurring schedules to help make productivity and focus a habit.
Schedule Deep Work Morning Sessions
For most of us, productivity is something that waxes and wanes from day to day and week to week. However, most people are unaware that their cognitive abilities also change based on the time of day. These peaks and valleys of alertness are caused by our circadian rhythms, or the 24-hour internal cycle our bodies use to determine when to wake and sleep. Throughout this 24-hour period, we cycle through 90-minute blocks of heightened productivity and focus called ultradian cycles. The start of each ultradian cycle is when your brain is most focused, with your energy slowly depleting as time passes. So how do you know when you’re at your peak?
Although peak performance can can vary from person to person, research sug. One study showed that adults tend to reach their peak performance on memory and cognitive inhibition tasks in the morning, while younger adults tended to reach their peak performance in the afternoon.
Dan Ariely, a Duke professor of psychology and behavioral economics revealed that people are generally most productive during the first two hours after becoming fully awake – regardless of when they wake up. “One of the saddest mistakes in time management is the propensity of people to spend the two most productive hours of their day on things that don’t require high cognitive capacity (like social media),” Ariely writes. “If we could salvage those precious hours, most of us would be much more successful in accomplishing what we truly want.”
Scheduling a Freedom Recurring Session can help you make the most of your morning hours by removing the temptation of anything that might pull you away from your most cognitively demanding tasks. One feature that can be particularly helpful in creating a consistent time for deep, focused work is the Block All Except function – Freedom’s whitelisting feature. This allows you to block all distracting websites and apps except for the ones you need access to for the task at hand. By creating a consistent time for deep focus each day, you’ll slowly start to train your brain to expect it – making focused mornings a habit.
Suggested recurring schedule: Create a two-hour Freedom block of social media, news, email, and anything else that is likely to distract you during the first two hours after you wake up. Consider moving tasks like email and meetings to the afternoon when your energy and concentration is likely to slump.
Create a Consistent Bedtime Routine
Most of us know the dreaded sluggish feeling the next day after a poor night’s sleep, however not all of us are aware of the more subtle, yet severe effects sleeping problems can have on our brain’s ability to function. Lack of sleep has been shown to increase procrastion, forgetfulness, as well as the inability to to pay attention consistently – symptoms frequently exhibited by those with ADHD. Not only that, sleep deprivation can also lead to poor decision-making, as a result of our brain’s impaired ability to assess a situation correctly and select the best solution.
But unfortunately, even though many of us know that sleep is extremely important factor in both our mental and physical wellbeing, we still lay awake at night scrolling through timelines or binging Netflix. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 Americans is not getting enough sleep. Poor sleep quality can be caused by a variety of factors, however for most of us, major improvements can be made with small changes to your sleep hygiene. One way to do this is using Freedom recurring sessions to create a hard deadline for bedtime by blocking your access to online distractions that keep you awake.
Suggested recurring schedule: Schedule a Block All session to block your access to the entire internet an hour before you need to be asleep to help you unwind from your day and prepare your mind for sleep. Not only will you avoid unnecessary Twitter rabbit holes, but you will also cut back on blue light emitted from your devices that can prevent you from falling asleep
Make a Habit of Disconnecting for the People That Matter
Although many of us know and understand the importance of family and friends, we don’t always give them the attention they deserve. In fact, studies have revealed that the biggest predictor of your happiness is actually the extent of your social relationships. Not only that, but family and friends have been shown to help reduce your stress levels, improve your ability to fight disease, reduce your risk of dementia, and help you live longer.
And it’s not a far jump to imagine that those with healthier and happier personal lives find it easier to focus and perform at work. However despite many of us knowing how important our loved ones are to us, too often we let life get in the way – dinners are eaten around the TV, conversations are interrupted by texts, calls, and notifications, and game nights turn into everyone checking their device in the same room.
Our modern, multifaceted, digital world has forced us into a habit of multitasking while at work or on-the-go, which unfortunately has now leaked into our personal lives as well. These subtle interruptions may seem insignificant by themselves, but can take a toll on your quality of relationships, and therefore your quality of life and mental health.
So if you need help being more present for those who matter, try to make disconnecting a habit with Freedom recurring schedules. Schedule time to be present for those who matter by creating recurring blocks a few times a week. Not only will you feel less stressed, but those around you appreciate your undivided attention.
Suggested recurring schedule: Create a recurring block for a few hours a week when you know that you will be around friends and family. This might involve disconnecting on weekends, blocking a few hours for home time and dinner, or creating blocks for social events such as dinner parties, book clubs, or family brunches.