Staying creative in a world of digital distraction

Jolene Schultz PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

In our modern-day, tech-centric working world, it’s easy to become digitally distracted.

If you are working in an office, your day is awash with constant email notifications, alerts from your phone and your smart watch buzzing at you. Work environments filled with eight straight hours of employees being digitally bombarded has raised concerns about the adverse effects on their creativity.

Most of today’s jobs require some degree of creativity. So how do you come up with your next great idea when every alert seems to be trying to sabotage you?

Finding a healthy balance is the key to success. Here are a few small, but effective, things to limit digital distraction and boost your creativity.

Manage notifications

Turn off all notifications on your laptop and phone. Find a place where you can keep your mobile phone that will be out of sight.

Trust me, if you can see that phone out of the corner of your eye, you will be tempted to pick it up.

If you find that you are missing out on important notifications after a couple of days, you can turn them back on. I know, this one is really hard. That’s why I started with it. I promise it gets easier from here.

Schedule your technology distractions

You will be more efficient with your time if you let yourself focus on things instead of constantly jumping back and forth between tasks.

Pick certain times of your day to check your inbox. If you find yourself being distracted by thoughts like “remember to email Tim,” or anything other than the creative task at hand, do what I call a “brain dump.” Write down all those random thoughts on a Post-it Note so you can get them out of your brain, but you’ll remember them later.

When your scheduled inbox time arrives, you can go ahead and email Tim.

Find a quiet place

Tapping into your creativity takes periods of uninterrupted concentration. It can be hard to get to this place if you are constantly distracted. When you are working on a project that requires you to focus, it might become necessary to set aside some time for it.

Let your team know you are taking time to focus on a project. Make sure you mark out the time you need on your shared calendar. If you are able to, step away from your desk and find a quiet spot to work.

If you are tied to your desk, set up a sign that says “Do Not Disturb,” or any other witty sign that will keep people from distracting the creative process.

You will get a lot more accomplished in a shorter amount of time if you give yourself this focus time.

Carve out empty moments

Relaxing and empty moments are when our brain is able to make connections between unrelated things and finding interesting insights.

People often say that their best ideas happen while they’re in the shower. Probably because this is one of the only places that offers a relaxing and empty moment for most people.

Since the invention of the smartphone, people tend to fill every empty moment scrolling through feeds or catching up on news. Stop doing that. Take those small moments to let your brain wander. Take a walk or jog, do yoga or meditation — whatever works for you.

Hopefully someday we will find the perfect balance and learn to live in harmony with tech. Until then, every day is a struggle to not let those technological distractions get the best of you.