How to eliminate distractions + be productive

How to eliminate distractions + be productive

Being busy, and being productive are two different things.

Aren’t they? Being productive means working smarter, not harder. It’s something that I’ve struggled with for the longest time. You could always hear me say “I’m soooo busy” but at the end of the day, I’d do a quick recap and realize that I really didn’t get as much done as I thought. I’d feel exhausted, but in reality, I really haven’t done anything very productive.

I’m sure you know that feeling. You’re sitting down to work, or plan on doing something. Then you get that notification on your phone. Is it an email? A text message? You pick up your phone ( know…”real quick“) and boom. You’re distracted.

You can say that when you procrastinate and put things off to be done at a later time, you’re stealing. You’re taking something away from yourself. Something you can never get back. Time.

Think about it. If you were to spend only 20% of your time really focusing on those most important tasks and give 100%, you’d have more time. More time to do things you enjoy, more time to set new, bigger goals, and more time to take care of yourself (like working out or making a nice meal). You might tell yourself that “you’re busy” but how much of that time do you actually spend doing something productive?


You think you can keep track of everything you need/want to do in your head, but the truth is- you can’t. Keep a journal, write down your thoughts and ideas. Having them written down will let you go back and re-visit them, improve them and build on them. It will also let you plan a lot better and prevent you from forgetting your ideas as well. You never know when inspiration might hit you- that’s why always having a journal (or a planner, notebook) with you will let you write them down as soon as they come to you.

I love planning out my day ahead. Write a list of things to do the next day, before you go to bed. I found that doing this at night works out much better than making the list in the morning (which I used to do). When you have a lot of energy in the morning, you often feel like you can fit a lot more into your day than you actually do. After making your list, separate your tasks according to priority. You can take it even further, and schedule everything in your calendar, using 15-20 minute blocks.


We all have those tasks that we just don’t enjoy doing very much. To me, when it comes to work- it’s making phone calls (especially when I know I’ll have to deal with a difficult client); when it comes to my “home” life- it’s a tie between working out and dusting (seriously, I could do dishes all day, I sometimes vacuum just for fun, laundry I can deal with, but dusting I can’t stand). There are days when the last thing I want to do after getting home, is to jump around for 40 minutes. So what do I do? As soon as I get home from work, I take my dog for a quick walk, I take off my makeup, change and get my workout in. It’s really one of the first things I do when I get home- I don’t even think about doing it, I just do it automatically, and by the time I realize, it’s 40 minutes later and my workout for the day is complete.

If, I avoid doing it or keep putting it off (“let me first check the mail“, “maybe I should think about dinner first“, “omg I missed my dog so much, I’ll just cuddle with him for an hour“) I usually either end up not doing it at all, or doing it, but not giving it a 100%. The same thing goes for everything else in your life.  If there is something that you really dread doing, just do it right away and get it over with. If you keep putting it off, it will just hang over your head and make you feel uneasy-both of which can lower your productivity.

Related posts:

+ How to stop procrastinating right now
+ 7 Life-changing morning rituals
+ Morning affirmations to start your day
+ How to really get things done: your #1 tool for staying productive


As soon as you start your day, or as soon as your schedule allows, spend 20 minutes “unprocrastinating” and working on your first, most important task. During those 20 minutes, you are not allowed to browse the internet, check your phone, or turn on the TV. After the 20 minutes are up, you can either continue working, or allow yourself a 10-minute break, during which you can check your email, Twitter, or Instagram feed. This will be your reward for doing your work. Once the 10 minutes are done, go back to working on your task for the next 20 minutes, and so on.

To help you with this, you can set up the timer on your phone that will let you know when the time is up, or use something like this.  When doing this, it’s important to stay mindful of any distractions or urges to stop. This is based on the Pomodoro Technique– an idea that when working on a large, involved task, breaking it down into short, timed intervals that are spaced out with short breaks will help you be more productive.


I already mentioned this app a while ago, but I still use it all the time. Forest is a great app if you find yourself being constantly distracted and reaching for your phone while working. Also, kind of cute solution to the problem: you set the time- let’s say 30 minutes- you plant a tree and put your phone down. During those 30 minutes, you cannot reach for your phone- otherwise, your tree will die. The key is to eventually build a forest, which gives you an awesome sense of achievement. Seeing your tree wither and die away is a bummer


Another tip for cutting out distractions is setting up boundaries- especially when it comes to your workplace. When working on something important, communicate with your colleagues. Let them know you’re on a deadline and you’ll be less likely to be disturbed. Minimizing noise helps a lot when it comes to staying focused, too.

Get rid of those old invoices, a bunch of papers you no longer need and all your junk mail. I know that a lot of us love to have that “organized chaos” but the truth is, you can’t expect to be productive if you have a messy desk. The same thing goes for your email inbox and laptop- digital mess can be a distraction, too.

Thing is, you can’t always trust your future self. Have you ever bought a fridge full of veggies and thought “okay, starting tomorrow I’m eating healthy“, only to have to throw them all away a week later? Yeah, your future self (just like my future self) is pretty unreliable. Which is why “I’ll just do it tomorrow” or “I’ll make up for it later” doesn’t always work.


  • Reply
    Emma Louise
    October 18, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    When I know I need to concentrate and get on with something I always leave my phone in another room as it stops me getting distracted. I usually make a list each night of what I need to do so I don’t end up stressing.

    EmmysBeautyCave | Bloglovin | Blog Header Services

    • Reply
      Paula @
      October 21, 2016 at 3:51 pm

      I just turn it off, all the time. I still sometimes reach for it, even when it’s off haha it’s just such a habit!

  • Reply
    Katie S.
    October 18, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    I love these tips!! I definitely would have a lot of those days where I thought I was productive at work but looking back I didn’t do much. I started to write down everything I wanted to look at online or talk to my friends about when they popped in my head, and once I worked for x amount of time I could go check out something online or chat. That helped a lot! I need to download that Forest app too. That sounds adorable!

    And I hear you with the working out! I was trying to convince myself that I was going to work out in the morning for months and it never happened lol I just got myself back in the groove today with working out at night.

    Katie |

    • Reply
      Paula @
      October 21, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks Katie! I love that app and it really does help me. Makes me think twice before reaching out for my phone! :)

      I used to do the same thing with working out haha, always telling myself that I’ll make it up the next day- and it never happens haha :)

  • Reply
    Nicole Merza
    October 18, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    These are great tips that I definitely need to start incorporating into my life! I get distracted waaaay too easily. Thanks for sharing :)

    Nicole | The Glam Surge

  • Reply
    October 19, 2016 at 1:46 am

    I definitely need to plan ahead more in my life! Great tips Paula :)
    Kathy x

  • Reply
    Aleksandra // bunniesaremagic
    October 19, 2016 at 4:02 am

    Oh, starting work must be the hardest of all. Once I’m in, I’m fine – barely ever get distracted because I just want to be over with it. But starting? Takes me hooours.

  • Reply
    October 19, 2016 at 4:31 am

    The pomodoro technique can be really useful, I think I need to start using it more again! And the ‘don’t disturb’ setting on my phone has turned out to be a lifesaver when it comes to procrastinating, I don’t get any notifications until I actually want/need to see them! Thanks for the great tips again :) xx

  • Reply
    Ambar Syed
    October 19, 2016 at 4:53 am

    Really useful tips Paula, time blocking is key – it’s the only way I ever manage to get stuff done but getting out of the ‘break’ times is always so hard!
    – Ambar x

  • Reply
    Dea Andriany
    October 19, 2016 at 5:02 am

    I find blocking apps really work because I easily get distracted by twitter/youtube, they are really helpful to keep me from wondering around. Thanks for mentioning pomodoro technique!

    Selene Addicted

  • Reply
    Emma Engmark
    October 19, 2016 at 9:03 am

    I need to download that app! It sounds amazing.
    I’m so bad at doing tons of different things, while I should be working – I say, when I look through your blog, while I actually should be working..

  • Reply
    Hannah McDonnell
    October 19, 2016 at 9:34 am

    I love the idea of coming home right away and taking off my makeup and getting a workout in. I have been wanting to make more time for working out, but I have been so tired after work. I am going to try this technique today!

    • Reply
      Paula @
      October 21, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      It’s the only way for me to get it done haha ;) Otherwise I get too lazy or start doing something else.

  • Reply
    Millie Robinson
    October 19, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Lovely post! I always find getting everything I don’t want to do out of the way first means I have more time for the things I do want to do! x

  • Reply
    October 19, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    I love this! Definitely going to try some of this out. I’m a major procrastinator, and I also loathe working out haha. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Mary Bloomy
    October 19, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    This is a very helpful post! Lovely read :) xx

    Sara |

  • Reply
    October 19, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    I really need to start this! While I am pretty organized, I get into the habit of trying to multi-task which turns into a disaster because then I start working on something else and end up getting distracted.

    Bridget |

  • Reply
    Dagmara Klich
    October 19, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Ah, the distractions… plenty of them, everywhere, haha!

    As I don’t work right now I can let myself get distracted more then if I would but still, there are days that I thought I was super busy and looking back most of the time I spent doing absolutely nothing productive.

    Definitely need to manage my time better :) x

    Mummy’s Beauty Corner

    • Reply
      Paula @
      October 21, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      Yes, they’re all over the place haha :D

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels like that sometimes! I do love staying productive though. I don’t handle a lot of downtime very well haha!

  • Reply
    Emily Trinh
    October 19, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    The app Forest sounds so interesting. Downloading it now to give it a go so hopefully it works!

    Emily |

  • Reply
    Kiss & Make-up
    October 20, 2016 at 5:26 am

    I definitely have a problem with prioritizing…

  • Reply
    Ela BellaWorld
    October 20, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Seriously Paula, reading your posts always put me in a good mood, even when I am not feeling good! I used to handle work and blog pretty well before and now I just can’t seem to concentrate on anything. After work, I feel so exhausted that I don’t feel like doing anything then I am just lost. I should consider time blocking, rather than just trying to get done 10 hours job in 3 hours and also prioritising to be more productive.

    Ela BellaWorld

    • Reply
      Paula @
      October 21, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      Aww that means the world to me, Ela! So, so happy to hear that!

      I know the feeling. I feel that ever since my blog started growing I’m spending more and more time thinking about it, even when working haha ;) Time blocking is great, I love scheduling my “to dos” in time-blocks in my calendar, too. It really helps, as long as you stick to it. Definitely takes some time getting used to haha ;)

  • Reply
    The Gossip Darling
    October 20, 2016 at 10:23 am

    I am terrible with setting boundaries. Amazing tips and awesome post…now I need to listen!!

    Mel |

    • Reply
      Paula @
      October 21, 2016 at 7:07 pm

      Thanks Mel! Getting used to a new routine, sticking to your schedule is definitely difficult at first. But, once you have a very productive day, or two and three, it feels amazing and very much worth the effort :)

  • Reply
    Sarah H.
    October 20, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    You’ve done it again!! So happy I found your blog :)

  • Reply
    October 22, 2016 at 4:22 am

    Loved this! Great tips, Paula! I also love planning my day in advance, but procrastination is still an issue!


  • Reply
    Nereyda Gonzalez
    October 23, 2016 at 1:39 am

    I have been using a bullet journal lately and it’s really been helping me with planning and being productive.

    Nereyda│ Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist

  • Reply
    Claire Wakefield
    October 27, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Being more productive is something that I’m only just beginning to master!
    It’s so hard to avoid distractions, it’s definitely my fall down.

    Getting all the main jobs out the way first really does help me though. ?

    Claire |

  • Reply
    lilian Tahmasian
    March 21, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    so helpful! needed this : )

  • Reply
    Natalie Redman
    March 25, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Great post!

  • Reply
    Tamara Gerber
    March 26, 2017 at 2:47 am

    Forest app is downloading as we speak! Cute idea. I’m guilty of everything you say – the good news is, there is a lot of potential for improvement ;-)

    • Reply
      Paula @
      March 27, 2017 at 7:13 am

      Love that app! :)

      • Reply
        Tamara Gerber
        March 27, 2017 at 7:52 am

        Planted 10 trees yesterday, am working on my 6th today. It’s addictive ?
        2017-03-27 13:13 GMT+02:00 Disqus :

  • Reply
    May 9, 2017 at 11:34 am

    Great tips, Paula! It is a constant struggle, especially when it comes to school!

    Laila from Townhouse Palette

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