With the rise of remote working, always-on phones, Slack, notifications are everywhere. Distractions are like a lack of sleep, we’re generally awful at noticing that they’re a problem.

Every task benefits from you being in the zone. This is where you perform at your absolute best. You’re immersed in what you’re doing, you ignore distractions, you ignore time. The tough part with this, is that it’s not easy to get there. There’s a great book on this - “Deep Work” by Cal Newport.

On the other side of the coin: communication is vital at all levels. You need feedback. You need to communicate what you’re working on. You need to prioritise. Having fresh eyes on your problems, an external opinion, a friendly ear. These are all insanely helpful, especially when you’re under the pump (and don’t feel like it). The fastest task to complete is one you don’t have to do.

Here’s something I find works: structured connectivity.

Define your zones, do not allow for a “grey area”. You’re either committed to focus time, or committed to communication. This has benefits on both sides of the equation. In focus time, you are engaged in the task. You have the time, and the level of attention to complete work that otherwise, can often be impossible.

On the communication side: you communicate with a purpose. If you’re in a meeting, put your phone down, focus on what’s said, what it means, and any insights you might have. If you’re taking feedback, write things down. If you’re asking about someone’s weekend, actually give a shit about it.

When you’re working on tasks, break them into pieces. The size of the pieces should be manageable, usually no more than an hour. Remove all distractions. Put your phone on do not disturb, turn off notifications on your computer, if you need to get up for water, do not check your phone.

You’re working on one thing, put your headphones in, and do it. Have a clear idea of what it is you’re focused on, and focus on it. Everything else can wait.