- June 25, 2019
- Posted by: Stephen Coleclough
- Category: Productivity
Being able to maintain focus on a specific task is important for being productive and making the most of each day.
It also makes it easier to achieve any important life goals that you have set.
In this post, I’ll share several useful tips for improving focus throughout the day.
You will be amazed by how much work you can get done with better focus!
#1 – Gradually strengthen your focus
Many people find it useful to think of the mind as a muscle.
If you want to strengthen your muscles, you would gradually lift heavier and heavier weights.
If you want to strengthen the mind, you will need to gradually extend the duration of your focus sessions.
When you use a timer (more on that below), record how long you successfully focus before a distraction pops up.
Your goal will be to beat that time by strengthening your mind.
Even if you can only focus for 10 minutes to begin with, that’s fine.
You may currently be a 90-pound weakling in terms of concentration, but you will soon be an Arnold Schwarzenegger of the mind!
#2 – Learn how your energy levels fluctuate
It’s important to understand that your energy levels will go up and down throughout the day.
This will be based on a number of factors including your habits, diet, exercise, sleep patterns, and stress levels.
The way your energy levels fluctuate will be unique to you.
It will be much harder to focus when your energy levels are low, so you should take these fluctuations into account when planning your day.
Many people find that they are full of energy at 8am but feel like they want to go to sleep at 2pm.
If that sounds like you, plan the day accordingly.
Schedule your most difficult tasks at 8am and something simple at 2pm.
This will make focussing much easier and improve your productivity levels.
If you are one of those people that experience the afternoon slump, you can also try these great Afternoon Energy Boosters.
#3 – Create an environment that makes focussing easy
Remaining focussed is much easier if you are in an environment that is quiet, calm, and doesn’t expose you to unnecessary interruptions.
Here are some tips for creating this kind of environment:
- Let other people know that you are focussing on a difficult task and do not want to be disturbed
- Turn off your mobile phone so you won’t be distracted by alerts
- Close your email program
- Use a website blocker to prevent the use of distracting websites like Facebook and Twitter
- Work in an area that is quiet and has a pleasant temperature
- Work in an area with some natural light as it can improve productivity
Some people find it easier to work when they are in a completely different environment.
So, instead of trying to work in your bedroom, walk down to the local library or university and work there.
#4 – Schedule short breaks into your day
It’s impossible for the human brain to remain completely focussed for the entire day.
You will need to use a combination of periods of focussed effort broken up by rest breaks.
Start with 20 minutes of sustained focus on one task, follow by a 5 minute break.
This “Pomodoro Technique” uses this kind of focus/break cycle to great effect.
Traditionally, it uses a 25 minute block of focused effort followed by a short break (typically 5 minutes).
However, there is some research to suggest that the ideal Pomodoro is 52 minutes of work followed by a 17 minute break.
Tracking Pomodoro’s is made easy thanks to the many Pomodoro applications available.
#5 – Limit phone calls, emails, and meetings to certain times of the day
It will be impossible to focus for long periods if you are constantly interrupted with phone calls, text messages, emails, and meetings.
The solution to this dilemma is to schedule specific chunks of time to deal with these distractions.
Because dealing with emails and phone calls typically don’t require a huge amount of focus, you could assign these tasks to the part of the day when your energy is lower.
For most people, that will be between 2 to 4 pm in the afternoon.
#6 – Never multitask
The multitasking myth was busted a long time ago.
It has been proven that multitasking reduces productivity, hampers learning, and makes it harder to focus.
Multitasking is a particularly bad idea if you are working on a task that is complex, as it greatly increases the risk of mistakes being made.
#7 – Meditate daily
One of the keys to proving focus is being present in the current moment.
If you are ruminating about the past or being anxious about the future, it will be impossible to completely focus on the task at hand.
Meditation helps by creating more stability in the ventral posteromedial cortex (vPMC).
This is a region of the brain linked to spontaneous thoughts and mind-wandering.
As your vPMC becomes more stable, you will experience less rumination or anxious thoughts and you will focus more easily.
There are many online resources available which can help you learn to meditate including this great article at Mindful.
#8 – Create a distractions to-do list
Whenever you find yourself distracted by a random thought or sudden impulse, write it down on a “distraction todo list”.
The simple act of writing it down can push the distraction from your mind and give you a sense of closure.
Once you have completed the task in front of you, return to your distraction list to find a fun distraction to enjoy.
Thanks for reading How To Improve Your Focus Throughout The Day.
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