It starts the moment you wake up in the morning, or maybe it’s the reason you wake from slumber. It’s the buzz of notifications on your smartphone or tablet. Most of us immediately check the devices by our bedside. It’s the first thing we do in the morning, even before kissing our spouse or letting the dog out.

This is one example of how digital devices have inundated our lives. In fact, studies show that people use digital devises an average of 12 hours a day. And the digital deluge is distracting us from gaining focus in other areas of our lives—including work.

Another area of distraction is our excessive addiction to meetings, according to William Treseder founding partner at BMNT and contributor, who adds that studies indicate that we spend anywhere from 35 to 55 percent of our time in meetings.

To stay focused on truly meaningful activity at work, something has to change. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share a few tips from Treseder on how to regain focus at work.

Practice mindfulness. The single biggest mistake most of us make is in how we start the day. As we mentioned above, the first thing most of us do is check our phones. Treseder quotes Stanford psychologist Emma Seppälä, author of The Happiness Track, who says that “By constantly engaging our stress response [when we check our phones], we ironically are impairing the very cognitive abilities—like memory and attention—that we so desperately need.”

Instead, begin your day with some quiet time. Take a few deep breaths or even meditate for 20 or 30 minutes. This allows you to train your body to stay calm in the midst of stress. It helps you make better decisions.

Organize tasks. Another common mistake is letting other people fill in your calendar, particularly in the morning. You have to make sure you leave enough time to accomplish complex, creative tasks. Schedule time for this type of work in the morning, when you can be most creative, and push other types of activity, like status meetings, to the afternoon.

Clean up. Is your desk a mess? What about the desktop of your computer? Your smartphone’s home screen? These areas might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but your environment affects your productivity and quality of work. As Treseder says, keeping a neat work environment, both physical and digital, is essential to your ability to stay focused. So, create folders on your desktop to get rid of all the random files, and keep only the most important eight to 12 apps on your home screen. And turn off all unnecessary notifications.

Shrink meetings and schedule time between. How many people were in your most recent meeting? More importantly, how many of them were actually involved in the creation or fulfillment of deliverables from that meeting? Limit the number of people in your meetings to ensure focus. Make sure each meeting results in action items, a timeline for each action item, and one person who is responsible for ensuring that it gets done. This takes the load off of you to “babysit” or spend your time following up.

Also, be sure to add time between your meetings to reflect and prioritize. It seems that a sign of status at the office is the person who has back-to-back meetings (read: that person must be very important)., Well, that person will not have time to do his or her own work and will experience burn out very quickly. Be sure to build in buffers in your calendar so you can have time to process.

Source: William Treseder is a founding partner at BMNT, a problem-solving consultancy in Silicon Valley. He loves to find creative ways to improve the everyday behaviors that define our lives.