I’ll admit it. Sometimes I have the attention span of a gnat. If I’m distracted by what’s going on around me, it’s bad news.

As a kid, I never understood it when an adult would walk into a room, and suddenly announce that they forgot why they entered. It seemed silly to me. How could you possibly forget what you’re doing?

Fast forward 20-25 years or so, and I can certainly see why. I’m going to go ahead and say it. The Internet did all sorts of marvelous things for mankind, offering us information far more accessible than ever before. It also ruined my brain, and it probably ruined yours, too.

I have a 2-second attention span when it comes to doing anything online. I’m working on one thing, and something else beckons.

Writing anything longer than a simple tweet or a Facebook status can take an inordinate amount of attention. As you sit down to accomplish anything online that takes more than 20 minutes, you’ll need to fight the urge to:

  • Check your email at least 10 times.
  • Respond to every notification on your phone or computer.
  • Scroll through your Facebook news feed for at least 15 minutes (forgetting what brought you there in the first place, and then you realize it was just procrastination).
  • The urge to make a phone call.
  • Post on G+, Twitter or LinkedIn.
  • Get up to find a snack.
  • Get up to simply look out a window, without a clear reason why.

Most of these distractions are due to the Internet. When you give in to them, suddenly a short project takes two hours, and your day became wholly less productive. But hey, your Facebook friends may know what you ate for dinner last night.

We’ve gotten used to things like wondering how many sacks your favorite football team gave up on Sunday, and quickly Googling it to find out. It’s a great thing to have that ability, but it comes at a cost.

This shouldn’t take a reminder, but you’re in business to make money. Selling goods or services means being productive. Here are a few suggestions on how to eliminate distraction and get more done:

  • Close every browser window before you start working.
  • As you finish a project, reward yourself. Give yourself 10 minutes of social media time.
  • Keep a running list of things that need to be done on Facebook. Refer to said list as you find yourself tempted to stare into the social media abyss. Hold yourself accountable.
  • If you work out of a home office, make sure there’s a door. When distractions abound, close it. Don’t let yourself open that door until you’ve finished something meaningful. You’ll quickly feel more productive.
  • Buy yourself a good pair of headphones. As the noise and conversation around you becomes more distracting, use these headphones and your favorite music as an audio boundary between you and said environmental distraction. Believe me, it helps. In case you’re wondering, I’m listening to The Who By Numbers as I write this.
  • If you’re still feeling distracted, it may be time for a change of scenery. It may be time to work from your neighborhood coffee shop. (The headphones come in real handy here, but it’s a good place for a better perspective.).

What do you do to stay focused? How do you stay productive when everything else beckons around you?