The best solution is to find what works for you and stick with it. For me, it’s not always the same thing. If I’m not feeling the classical music one day, I may switch to death metal (yes, death metal) for a while and experience the most focused state I’ve had in months.
Silence all notifications
In a world constantly filled with dings, vibrations, and pop-ups, it’s unbelievably easy to get distracted. You can be in the zone, getting more work done in a few hours than you have all week. All it takes to ruin that productive streak is a single buzz from your phone.
After that initial break in concentration, it can take 20 minutes or more to regain focus. You may even find it difficult to fall back into that productive state.
Over nearly six years of writing, I’ve learned there are few things worse than being ripped out of writing an article mid-sentence. Every day, before I begin writing, I always silence my watch, phones, and tablet; I close the email app, Mailbox, on my Mac; and I make sure any other possible notifications or distractions are silenced.
Not everyone can go completely off the grid for a few hours while they work – especially those who work a standard nine to five. What happens if someone actually needs to get in touch with me? What if there is an emergency?
Fortunately, technology has come along far enough for such a situation. On iOS, Do Not Disturb has exceptions for contacts in your Favorites and for repeat callers (a second call from the same number in under three minutes). The latest version of Android (Lollipop) also comes with a similar feature. While silenced, you can allow priority notifications from starred contacts. Enabling these features while working will keep distractions to a minimum while not making you totally unreachable in the case of an emergency.
Get a breath of fresh air
Not only does sitting for extended periods of time have a tremendously negative impact on your physical health (and even life expectancy), being cooped up behind a desk or in an office all day seriously affects your mental health, too.