Staying focused on a task at hand can often seem quite difficult. Especially in our age of technology, which although beneficial in a lot of ways, has also provided a multitude of distractions at our fingertips.
Therefore, many people often wonder how to stay focused.
Learning the answer to how to stay focused is essential in being productive and achieving your goals and is crucial to effective work.
If you too are wondering how to stay focused you have come to the right place.
Here are our top tricks and tips you can adopt to help you concentrate on your work and answer the question on everyone’s mind: how to stay focused.
OUR TIPS ON HOW TO STAY FOCUSED
Here are our top tips and tricks you can follow and adopt in your life if you are wondering how to stay focused:
Tip 1: Location Location Location!
If you are finding yourself having trouble focusing or just want to be more productive, our first tip is to consider where you are working.
Depending on what type of work you do, whether that be having an office job, working from home, being a student, or being a stay-at-home parent you may feel that you don’t really have control over your work environment.
This thought however is a mistake that many individuals make.
Before we talk about making the best of the location you have, if you have the flexibility to move around here are some things to consider.
You want to ensure that you set up an environment that is conducive to focusing and productivity. Finding where you work best is essential.
You may want to find a quiet designated place in your house or office or find a location that works for you as a library or coffee shop.
However, there are certain situations that may not give you the flexibility to change your working location. For example, you may have a set desk in an office where you have to work.
That is no problem, and you can still set up your location to help you focus on the work at hand.
Make sure you have a clean surface to work on. You want to ensure that the table or space you are using is comfortable but also allows you to have enough room to hold your essential materials, whether that be papers or your laptop.
Try to avoid a cluttered desk and being cramped with unnecessary objects.
The next step to optimizing your work location is making it comfortable, whether you prefer working standing up or sitting down.
Tip 2: Minimize Distractions
Our next tip which is seemingly simple and may seem fairly obvious is to minimize if not completely eliminate distractions when you are trying to concentrate and focus.
Chances are that it may be difficult to completely get rid of all distractions and the art of focusing also has to do with mind power but you should definitely get rid of as many distractions as you possibly can.
While it may seem that the distraction is small or not taking too much time, statistics show that it takes around 23 minutes and 15 seconds on average once interrupted to be able to refocus on work.
If you add up the small 5-minute distractions we often overlook this can add up to be quite damaging to our productivity and focus.
Distractions could be in the form of a television playing in the background, a co-worker or family member that keeps interrupting, emails and other notifications, and most common social media.
The first step is to eliminate what you can. Turn off the television or move to a quieter location. We have spoken about the importance of the location you are working in above.
In regard to emails, notifications, and other tasks that you need to complete that might keep distracting you, you may want to adopt time management techniques like the Pomodoro method which we will discuss below.
If your social media accounts, distracting websites, or apps that keep getting you to lose focus is the problem you may want to take some measures to eliminate these distractions.
You can turn off notifications or turn your phone off or putting it on airplane mode could limit the urge to check it constantly.
There are even certain apps that you can download that block distracting websites and apps for time periods that you set so you can focus on your work without distraction.
One distraction that may not be as easy to eliminate is if you have a family member or co-worker that keeps interrupting. This is where the location we spoke about comes into play.
Many of us found ourselves working from home last year which was a concept new to a lot of individuals, including our family members. Creating a designated workspace or environment in your home can be an indication to a family that you should not be disturbed.
As for interrupting co-workers the first step is to let them know not to interrupt you in certain parts of the day when you are trying to focus. If that doesn’t work or you don’t want to be rude, a universal signal is putting on headphones.
Whether you are listening to something or not most people will not approach someone unnecessarily if they have headphones on and are focused on work.
Tip 3: Replace Multitasking with Single-tasking
Multitasking is surprisingly deceptive. While it may seem like those that multitask are getting a load more done than you are, multitasking is actually an effective way to negatively impact productivity and focus.
A 2009 Stanford study found that multitaskers performed poorly on tests examining their attention spans, memory capacity, and even ability to switch between tasks compared to their non-multitasking companions.
In fact, due to the research and findings surrounding the effects of multitasking, more and more individuals are choosing and adopting single-tasking instead which is the act of focusing on a single task at a time with little to no distractions or interruptions.
You can use tools such as Kanban boards which are a great way to limit the number of tasks you are working on at any given time.
Tip 4: Set Goals and Objectives
You may find that the reason you are lacking focus is due to the sheer amount of work you need to get done and the constant feeling of being overwhelmed by complex projects and tasks.
One surefire way to tackle this is by breaking down larger complex projects into smaller parts and goals that you can work to achieve.
Why not try and adopt the S.M.A.R.T goal formula?
S.M.A.R.T is an acronym that depicts Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely respectively.
To learn more about setting SMART goals read our blog post here.
Breaking complex projects into more manageable SMART goals is a great way to stay focused without getting overwhelmed and thus losing concentration. Specific tasks are easier to focus on than complicated assignments.
Moreover, each time you complete a smaller task you gain a sense of accomplishment which drives you to focus more on completing the next task at hand.
Tip 5: Adopt Time Management Techniques
Time management is another great tip and trick to learn if you are trying to learn how to stay focused.
One such technique to consider is the Pomodoro technique which is great if you are struggling with your attention span and maintaining concentration on work.
The Pomodoro technique is a time-blocking method that helps you manage your time in intervals.
The Pomodoro method works by sectioning manageable chunks of time. The aim is to set a time, work on one task for that time, take a short break, and repeat this four times. After the fourth work chunk, you then take a longer break.
You can decide how long these work chunks and breaks will be but the Pomodoro method suggests working for 25 minutes, taking a 5-minute break, repeating three more times, and then taking a longer break of 25-30 minutes.
This technique is great to help you stay motivated and focused while giving you the break your brain requires to be able to maintain productivity and avoid burnout.
If you want to learn more about the Pomodoro technique, read more here.
We spoke about how having to check your email may be a distraction above. In fact, research suggests that 23% of all distractions come from emails. You can use time management techniques like the Pomodoro method or the time-blocking method.
You portion off a specific amount of time in your day to answer emails rather than constantly getting distracted throughout the day.
Tip 6: Plan and Get Organized
Planning ahead and organizing your work is a great way to be as productive and work as efficiently as possible.
Studies have found that having a written plan of action is great at increasing productivity. Create a to-do list and have everything you need to accomplish laid out in front of you.
It is important to create a realistic to-do list that can actually be completed in the time you allocate so as not to overwhelm you.
Set deadlines for tasks and prioritize tasks so you know exactly what you need to get done, by when, and in what order.
This way when you sit down to work you will avoid wasting valuable time trying to figure out what you need to do. This will help you stay focused and thus achieve more.
An easy way to be able to do this is to use tools that are available to help you organize your tasks and have everything on one platform so you aren’t juggling between apps and software.
Tip 7: Be Easy on Yourself
Remember, you are only human and sometimes the brain just needs a break. If you are really unable to concentrate or focus you may have something more pressing on your mind that you need to address first.
Otherwise, stressing yourself out that you need to concentrate when you just can’t add to anxiety and pressure is another great way to negatively impact your ability to focus.
If you find yourself completely stuck you may need to just be a little easier on yourself and give yourself a break to relax, rethink, and then regroup on the activity you are trying to accomplish.
Tip 8: Keep Practicing and Find What Works for You
Mental focus takes time, patience, and practice. You need time to be able to practice your concentration skills and it is not something that you can just learn overnight.
Find what techniques work for you and practice incorporating them into your life. You will find that eventually your focus and productivity will improve over time.
The improved mental focus will allow you to accomplish more, strive for your goals, and bring you a sense of greater achievement and success.
Placing value on your time and working towards this better mental focus is essential, therefore it requires the persistence it deserves and you shouldn’t just give up when you can’t achieve focus in one day.
As they say, practice makes perfect, and this is true even for activities of the mind.
We hope this list of tips and tricks is useful in your quest of learning how to stay focused on what you need to complete.
The world currently is all kinds of crazy so don’t stress yourself out too much that you aren’t feeling as motivated to get to work as you might otherwise have been.
It’s always a good idea to give yourself a break, take a step back, and refocus. These are unprecedented times and what once might have gotten you to have laser focus may not be working anymore.
Remember, the brain is like any other muscle in your body and benefits from exercise and practice.
You can always see what is working for you and adapt to your new requirements.