In a world of overstimulation and constant “doing”, it’s easy to find yourself lacking focus.
It can happen due to distraction, procrastination, clutter, stress, or any combination of a wide array of external things. The end result, however, is always the same — you don’t get the things done in a timely manner.
This can lead to troubles mentally and physically, at home, or at work. Luckily, there are strategies that you can take to improve your productivity.
Keep reading to find out 9 effective ways to stay focused in our world of distractions.
1. Start By Taking an Honest Look at Your Day
Before trying to improve your focus, it’s helpful to look at what is getting in your way first.
On any given day, observe your habits and ask yourself the following questions:
- Where do you waste time the most?
- When are you the most and least focused?
- How long does it take you to complete certain tasks?
Once you have a general answer to these questions, you can personalize the following strategies and use them in your day-to-day.
2. Set Up a Productive Environment
When you’re looking to get into a focused state-of-mind, create an environment that supports your goals.
This can involve decluttering your home, organizing your supplies so that you can easily access what you need, or creating boundaries with your family or co-workers so that they won’t bother you during your most productive hours.
While framing your workspace, think about how you can create a comfortable area to ease mental and physical stress. This could mean investing in an ergonomic chair or simply putting on motivating, ambient music. In fact, research shows that classical music improves mood and productivity.
3. Organize Your Day
It can be overwhelming to look at everything you need to do at once. A feasible way to tackle this issue is to organize your day and week ahead of time.
Utilize your phone calendar, a bullet journal, or an agenda to pencil in hourly time frames to work on certain tasks. This will allow you to have a set time to focus on one thing at a time.
Give yourself a small reward after you’ve completed a certain number of tasks to help keep yourself motivated.
4. Pre-plan Meals and Snacks
While it may not seem like it, dining out or making meals in the middle of your workday can interrupt your focus.
Try to pre-plan (and pre-make) your snacks and meals ahead of time. Consider the fact that bigger meals induce postprandial somnolence, which is the sluggishness you feel after eating a big protein and carbohydrate-rich meal.
Keep your snacks near your work zone and aim to consume brain foods like coffee, green tea, nuts, and blueberries.
5. Avoid Procrastination
We know — it’s easier said than done. Procrastination often happens when a task feels giant and unpleasant.
If you get the least inspiring, hardest tasks done earlier in your day, you can avoid procrastination altogether. Utilize the first part of your day when you feel energized to tackle the biggest to-dos.
This is an important tip because procrastination can lead to stress, which reduces your ability to focus and relax.
6. Use Time to Your Advantage
How many times have you said, “there isn’t enough time in the day”?
The truth is, we all have the same amount of minutes and hours available to us. It sometimes doesn’t feel like it, however, due to a lack of time management.
One way that you can tackle this problem is to use time to your advantage. Set timers for each task that you’re working on. This tactic sends a message to your brain that you’re working against the clock, which will help keep you on task and motivated.
Once you finish the task, record how long it took you into a time log. After a week of doing this, you’ll be able to assess how long each task takes you and you can set goals to decrease the time incrementally.
7. Rid Yourself of Distractions
On average, each of us spends 144 minutes per day on social media. It’s become a habitual thing to grab our phones or open a new browser to see what our peers are up to.
Unfortunately, this divides our focus and makes us less productive. To combat this, consider blocking social media sites on your computer and phone while you’re working.
This goes for checking on news updates as well. If you find it essential to periodically check what’s going on in the world, give yourself set amounts of time where you can do this so that it doesn’t interfere with your work.
8. Take Constructive Breaks
A classic suggestion to improve focus is to take breaks often. It may seem counterintuitive that taking time off from work helps you get more done.
The idea is that taking breaks gives your brain a little space to unwind and relax, which prevents mental fatigue and burn out. The key to utilizing breaks as a reset is to use them wisely.
Rather than engaging on social media or cleaning during your breaks, give yourself the space to decompress. This looks different for everyone but could include taking a walk, getting a little bit of exercise, stretching, drawing, or meditating.
9. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness, in a nutshell, is simply focusing your awareness on the present moment. By being mindful in your body, you’re left with one thing to focus your attention on — the present moment.
You can practice mindfulness by focusing on your breath, spending time silently outside, or by meditating. Meditation seems to be the most powerful mindfulness practice, as research shows that it can reduce stress and anxiety while increasing your attention span and focus.
To start incorporating mindfulness into your day, put all of your attention on one task at a time. For example, when you’re doing the dishes, observe how the water feels, how the plates look, and the sounds that you hear throughout the process.
You will see for yourself that as you sharpen your focus in unproductive moments, you will naturally become a more efficient worker.
Find Ways to Stay Focused That Work For You
While there are many ways to stay focused on the task at hand, it’s important to note that productivity doesn’t look the same for everyone.
Try these tips and find what works best for you. Over time, you’ll be able to develop a routine that allows you to do your best and manage your time wisely.
To read more on topics like this, check out the Lifestyle category.