Discover 5 simple, effective tips on how to silence distractions, set expectations, and improve your focus.

Skill Share

5 Steps to Help You Refocus

When you give yourself mental breaks, you avoid burnout and allow your mind to reboot and develop new ideas that will improve your design.

1. Silence the Noise

From iMessage pings to social notifications and endless emails, even the most disciplined designers can’t ignore the constant chatter. When you’re set to work on a project for an extended period, turn off “all” notifications during that time slot to avoid interruptions that throw you off balance.

Turn off all notifications on your phone and computer.
Amazon spot timer being used for a focus sprint of work.

2. Keep a Timer

Planning to work on a new task? Set a timer on your watch, Echo device, or a KitchenAid timer. Don’t use your smartphone or desktop. Remember, these devices are filled with other distractions (texts, calls, etc.). Avoid temptation by keeping your phone off limits.

3. Make a “Realistic” To-Do List

First thing each morning, create a to-do list of what you need to accomplish. Review the list and decide which items are top priority. Whatever you can’t complete, move it to the next day until you’re able to cross off everything.

Businessman discussing a project over the phone with a client on an outdoor balcony in the morning.

4. Set Expectations with Others

If you reply to your colleagues or clients immediately after they send you an email, you’re setting an expectation that you’re on call 24/7. A better strategy is to check your emails first thing in the morning and later during breaks and/or end of the day. This ensures you’re regularly responding to important correspondences within a reasonable time.

5. Take a Break

All work and no play made Jack a dull boy in Kubrick’s The Shining. Well, it makes you an ineffective designer, too! Good design needs a fresh perspective. Schedule 30-minute breaks throughout the day to reset and refocus. Use this time to respond to emails, take a walk, read an article, or share a funny gif with a friend.

Coffee with cookies.

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