Well, hi everyone. And welcome to the effective teaching podcast. I'm your host, Dan. And today we are going to be looking at the importance of focus for us as teachers to help us to be more effective in what we're doing as part of our job. And to make sure that what we're doing is really focused and helpful for our students. But before we get started, my book Work Less, Teach More, is ready to come out on the 30th of November. I plan on doing a virtual book launch where I'll be giving away some free books and share some insights that are from the books, as well as some strategies. And hopefully, answer your questions as we go. You can register for the book launch @teacherspd.net/booklaunch. I will also send you a free chapter when you sign up for the launch. So if you're interested in finding out more about this book and it's ... when it comes out and what's inside it, come and join me for the book launch. I would love to see there.
Now for this week, when we're talking about focus, I don't think we can really talk about focus without also talking about distraction. Now we kind of live in a distracted world. We have so many different forms of social media that we constantly go to. We have email notifications, we have our smartphones. So not only are emails getting to it from when we're at our computer, we have our emails going off in our pocket. When we're out at a party with friends, we have our social media notifications going off. We have text messages, we have messenger messages. We have snaps coming our way. There's so much that is actually drawing and pulling for our attention. That it's really easy to be distracted. We have our smartphones, we've got tablets. There's, there's no reason for us not to be distracted. Really.
We actually constantly feel the need to be entertained because of these things, because we're constantly in a state where we are never bored, right? If we are in a line waiting for our coffee and we have to wait two minutes and we're by ourselves, I reckon 99.99% of us will be pulling out our smartphone and scrolling through social media or sending someone a text message because we can't really, we don't want to be bored. We don't want to be sitting there doing nothing. And so by doing that, we're training ourselves to constantly be distracted, to constantly need these things. I also find that our distractions really call us most when we want to escape. And so that can be when we're bored, but it can also be as simple as when things get hard. When things get hard, it can be as simple as my crazy kids at home who were making lots of noise and jumping around and screaming or fighting.
And I want to escape because I don't want to have to confront that or deal with that. It could be a hard student in your classroom that you're having trouble with. And when you just start, start to try and think about how you might deal with that student or approach that student you automatically are looking for a distraction. It can be when you're trying to come up with a great lesson that you want to get distracted. Uh, it could be analyzing student data, finding problems too. So finding solutions to problems that help students with their learning and students feel this as well. Right? And we always do it with our students, students. When they come into our classes, if we're learning something new, that's difficult. They've been learning hard things all day, right? It's hard for them. And so they are also looking for a distraction.
They want to escape and they will escape your classroom. And so we always tell them straight up, you know, put away your phones. I don't want anything on your desk. That's going to distract you. You need to focus for your learning. But we forget that as teachers, we also need to make sure that we are focused when we're doing hard things. We need to reduce our distractions and our interruptions. We always do it with our students. It's time for us to do it as well. So to reduce your interruptions, you will need to reduce them from notifications. You want to get out your phone, turn off all your notifications on your computer, turn off your notifications. You don't need your email pinging off in the middle of class. You don't need it interrupting you. When you're trying to do marking or write reports, you want all your notifications off.
You don't need something to tell you to go back into social media or to go back into your email. We are constantly checking those things anyway, without the need for the notification. In fact, I would encourage you to go so far as to make sure your phone's on silent in general, and probably even delete some of the social media apps from your phone and see if you really need them as much as you think you do. The other thing you can do to really help reduce your distractions is to set yourself a 10 minute timer. So when you feel like you're in the middle of doing something, but you feel distracted, you want to go and check your phone. You want to do something, decide that that's okay, that you identify that this is what you're feeling. You're trying to escape something. That's hard. Pull out your phone and set a 10 minute timer, or even better to the 10 minute timer that doesn't involve you touching your phone.
Cause once you pick up your phone, you'll probably get distracted, but set a 10 minute timer somewhere and then go back to the hard thing where the 10 minute timer goes off. You're allowed to go and take that distraction. And often what I find is that when I do that by the time 10 minutes is up, I'm past the hard thing that I wanted to be distracted from, or I'm halfway through it. And so I just ignore it and I keep doing the work that I was trying to actually get done that I thought was too hard and I wanted to escape, but I forced myself to get back into it. And it's training your brain to do that. It's training your brain to do the hard things when they come up. It's really important for us. The other thing is to avoid interruptions and probably the easiest way to avoid interruptions is to go and find a space where you are least likely to be interrupted, which generally is not your desk.
Right? Teachers were sitting at our desks with lots of other teachers around us who can distract us. Kids come to the staffroom. They knock on the door, distracts us, interrupts us. The phone goes off. It interrupts us. So I want to encourage you to go find a room that doesn't have a phone that is not easy for kids to get to, to interrupt you, leave a note on your desk that says where you are in case there's an emergency, but be clear on that note. You know, only if it's an emergency, otherwise you're doing hard work, you're doing difficult stuff, or you need to get, you know, your marking dial or whatever our teachers understand that, right? You can go. I'm not at my desk. I am in study room three. Please only interrupt me. If it's an emergency, I'm currently writing my reports or whatever you're doing.
But by doing that, you're going to have less interruptions. You have less people come and talk to you or distract your train of thought. And this is important because as teachers, we have so much that we do that. It's actually hard work. I call it deep work quite often as well. And with less interruptions and distractions, we can actually begin to focus and we get ourselves in sport. We call it the zone. Uh, often when it comes to work, it's talked about your flow, but by getting into a focus state where other things are less distracting to you, because you're actually not paying attention to them. You can tell when someone's in a state of flow or when they're really focused, because while they're working, if someone says, excuse me, they actually don't hear it for the first three times until that's how it actually comes close.
And the noise is a bit loud or something like that. Now our kids do it all the time. I've struggled to get my kids. If they're watching a movie or something and I'm trying to talk to them to ask them what they want for dinner, they don't reply until I should go over and pause the movie. And then they go, oh, so what? So we want that as teachers, when we're doing reports, when we're doing our marketing, when we're writing feedback, when we're coming up with our units of work, it's hard work. It requires deep thinking. And so by making sure we're somewhere where there's less distractions, we actually can get more done in less time because we're getting into this flow of work. By being focused, it's increasing our effectiveness because our brain is focused. It's not distracted. We can get more work done in less time.
And the quality of that work is also going to be higher because we're focused on what we're doing and we're not distracted. You will be better at your research. You'll be getting better at getting your reports done, to be better at analyzing student data better at finding solutions to problems. And you'll be faster at doing these things, but we need to train ourselves to be focused. We need to train ourselves to not be needing the distractions. So by removing your notifications and putting your phone on silent or those kinds of things, you're actually helping yourself, you're training yourself to be able to focus better, because what happens is with all the interruptions. If we allow that constantly
Be the, our state of mind that our brain is trained, right? It builds the pathways for the distractions, and we need to train it to turn off those pathways that lead us into distraction so that we can actually focus on the deep work that we're trying to get done. Now, there is a flip side to this too, by being more focused at set times when we're trying to get reports written and all that kind of stuff, it also allows us to be more focused and more present when we're not working. You know, if I'm trying to get marking done or write a unit of work, but I'm also meant to be with my kids and looking after them or no one is there. No, one's really getting the best of me. I'm actually in two kinds of places at once and neither is getting my best work.
But if I split it up by the side, I'm not with my children for the next half hour. While I finish off this unit of work, I'm trying to get done. And then after that for the next half hour with my kids, I can actually then be focused with both of them. They both get my attention when they actually need it. And I have a better quality of life then with that kind of a balance. So don't multitask, particularly when the work is hard, you can multitask with checking emails and stuff. Uh, but even that don't multitask with people because if you're multitasking with people, people get upset and frustrated. You know, I've heard lots of kids, I'm sure you've had your kids or other people tell you, you know, you're always on your phone focused, dad, you know, I'm trying to talk to you.
So by doing this, we're going to really improve our quality of relationship by doing single tasking. It is so much better for us. It is so much more effective and will help us to actually find really good solutions to things. So when you're with your family, be with them and when you are working work, don't try to do both at the same time. But thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did. I would really appreciate it. If you could leave a review on apple podcasts, don't forget to register for the launch of my book. You can head to teacherspd.net/booklaunch, and you can register there. And if you want the show notes or anything for this episode, this is episode 96. So head to teacherspd.net/96, and you can see some notes there and the transcript for this episode, and then make sure that you subscribe and come back and join me now.