We live in world that moves at an incredibly fast pace. So many things are happening at the same time, and so many of them require your attention. Distractions are everywhere, and everyone you know asks for your attention at one moment or another. Staying focused in these conditions sounds like mission impossible. However, there are some strategies you can apply to improve your focus and increase your productivity. In this article we are going to discuss some of the most useful ones.
Have a daily schedule
Getting through the day without a real plan is like going shopping without a list when you plan for a birthday party. You know the main items that you need, but always end up overspending on useless stuff and forgetting the eggs. In other words, it is a totally ineffective strategy. But with a little planning ahead, you could end up having a successful party.
Planning your day hour by hour is the best way to make sure that you make the most of your time and accomplish everything you wanted.
Eat a frog!
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain wisely said.
And not surprisingly, this is one of the most popular productivity advices. Starting your day doing the most difficult task allows you to spend the rest of the day doing simpler things.
Being done with the thing you disliked the most also gives you a feeling of accomplishment that will help you stay focused and be more productive all day.
Set hard deadlines
We are all tempted to stretch our deadlines, especially when self-imposed. If you can’t finish the work you scheduled for today, it’s all good, you will just do it tomorrow. However, this mentality actually encourages procrastination.
Try setting hard deadlines instead that will prevent you from stalling. If your project is not ready by the deadline you set, instead of extending the deadline, put in more effort and don’t leave your desk until it’s done.
Treat self-imposed deadlines the same way you do with those set by your superiors or clients and your productivity is guaranteed to be given a boost.
Regaining your focus after being interrupted from work takes time and extra effort from your brain. Avoid wasting these valuable resources by reducing the risk of being interrupted to the minimum. Put a Do Not Disturb sign on your door, set your status to Unavailable on communication apps and completely log off social media. Or better off, use the Artificial Intelligence based status in Hubgets and “Let Hubgets manage my interruptions” 🙂
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Just putting your phone next to your keyboard won’t do the trick. You know you will be tempted to look every time you hear an incoming notification. So, even better, put your phone on silent and keep it out of sight, in a drawer.
To avoid interruptions even further, make sure you take everything you need before you sit at your desk. Grab your cup of coffee, the AC remote, a glass of water, and anything else you might need during the next couple of hours of deep focus.
Breaks are mandatory
Human brain has quite a small attention span. Besides that, it has the bad habit of perceiving as a threat everything that makes you feel stressed. The natural mechanism of self preservation makes it try to avoid the perceived threat. Therefore, when a task makes you anxious, your brain is trying to ditch it, which is the reason why we tend to procrastinate before difficult assignments. A great way to outsmart your brain is by dividing the big tasks into smaller chunks and treat each chunk as a separate task.
Use the Pomodoro Technique to manage your daily work and schedule your breaks so that you make the best out of your time.
Take time for yourself
It’s hard to stay focused when you are exhausted and you need to work all day long. If you also have a family and children on top of a demanding job, chances are that you have almost no time all by yourself.
One good solution would be to wake up very early in the morning. Going to bed early and waking up a couple of hours before everyone else in the house could allow you the time to do stuff for yourself. Exercise, try some yoga or meditation, go for a run, or anything else that might energize and put you in the right mindset for a productive day.
Recent studies have found that it’s not only your muscles that grow with physical exercise. It is also the hippocampus – the brain area responsible with verbal memory and learning.
Exercising improves mood, reduces stress and anxiety, and helps with insomnia, which enable you to stay focused and productive during the day. All of these can be achieved just by walking for one hour two times a week. Or 25 minutes every day. Easy, right!?
Organize your workspace
Having a well organized workspace can help improve your productivity and save important time. The average employee loses up to one hour per day due to disorganized workspace. A clean-desk policy will make it less likely to get distracted by random stuff lying around. It will also help you save time by not having to search through mountains of clutter when you are looking for a pen.
Adopt a system that helps you keep everything organized: use post-its and colors for your files, make a habit from putting everything back to its place after using it, and make sure to keep useless objects out of your desk.
It all comes down to habits
All in all, staying focused and increasing your productivity only require some good time management and organization. Practice the strategies presented above and try turning them into a daily routine. It might seem complicated at first, but once it becomes a habit, you will be able to stay focused and productive without too much effort.
We would be happy to read about your experiences! If you know other good strategies for increasing focus and productivity, share with us in the comments section below.