No matter how disciplined and dedicated we may be, we all can get sidetracked at times. In the digital age, there is always a phone call, text message, email, or social media notification coming in. We could spend significant time each day just managing communication. Really, what did we all do before cell phones and the internet? We were probably more focused, actually! In this hyper-distracted world it can be harder than ever to stay on task. Here are a few simple ways you can focus better and longer.
Keep Meetings To a Minimum
Many tasks and communications can be done via email or phone. If you can, avoid taking too many unnecessary in-person meetings that can be taxing on your day. The time it takes to have meetings and get to and from locations can take hours. So, if possible, reduce in person meetings to only those that are absolutely necessary.
Do Hard Tasks First
Instead of procrastinating on the hardest tasks, knock them out first thing in the morning. This will immediately make you feel accomplished and will get the ball rolling for completing additional tasks. The best way to jumpstart your day is to feel like you’ve already conquered it.
Listen To/Read Something Motivating
If you’re feeling “stuck” reset your mind by taking 15 minutes to reread a chapter from an inspiring book or to listen to a motivating podcast. Sometimes by leaving a task and returning to it, you can think with a more clear perspective.
This includes looking at your phone, emails, social media accounts, and text messages. To really focus, you need to put your phone aside and close out any browser windows that include your personal social media accounts. We understand that social media may be in your job description, but unless you’re knocking out a job-related post from your to-do list, steer clear of social media. As far as emails, check them occasionally, but if you really need to complete a task, wait until you’re done or only check your emails every hour. After all, if there’s something urgent or an emergency, you will probably get a phone call.
If your task doesn’t involve a team effort, try to work solo with headphones on. This is another way of removing distractions so you can focus longer. Every time you get interrupted, you have to bring your mind back to your task. If you work solo, you can limit or avoid interruptions allowing you to work longer and more effectively.
Know When To Outsource
As much as we like to think we’re superhuman, sometimes you have to hand off tasks to someone else. By delegating minor tasks to others you can ease your workload and focus on tasks that specifically need your attention. If there are duties that don’t require your exact skills, hand the torch to someone else.
Speaking of headphones, good music may be your greatest ally in focusing and staying motivated. Listening to upbeat music from your favorite artists definitely helps you focus and makes work more enjoyable. It also helps drown out any noise around you, so you can stay in the zone.
Make A To-Do List
Having a to-do list of tasks to complete is very helpful for staying focused. A clear plan of action is much easier to divide and conquer than aimlessly jumping from task to task with no structure. If possible, fully complete each task before moving on to another one. If something pops into your head, write it down on your list, but don’t leave your current task. It’s better to have 1 fully completed task than 2 half done tasks.
Food & Hydration
As much as we want to think we’re invincible and can work hours on end with no food or hydration, this is sadly not the case. If you find yourself distracted and dragging, check in to see if you’ve had anything to eat or drink in the past couple hours. Your brain needs food and hydration to function optimally -don’t deprive it! Drink plenty of water throughout the day and if you need more energy, green tea is an excellent antioxidant-rich option for giving you a healthy brain boost.
Know Your Habits
At the end of the day, knowing what distracts us can really help us stay on track. Understanding how you work best and identifying what is distracting you can improve your productivity tenfold. If you know that working in loud, crowded spaces makes you lose focus, try to find somewhere quieter to work or ask to move to a desk that is less hectic. Only you can determine how you work best. Knowing yourself and your habits can help you be the most productive. We all have our own quirks and processes for getting things done. What works for one person may not work for another. Creatives and artists are notorious for having quirky habits for doing their best work. Hey, if it’s harmless and it gets the job done, more power to you!