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7 Steps For Staying Focused
Concentrating in a modern world
Staying focused on a task may seem straightforward. In reality, trying to get anything done these days can be difficult. Given there are so many distractions to cope with, even the most diligent person may find their mind start to wander from the task they are working on. Technology, workloads, multiple priorities, noise and other people are just some of the factors that can steal your attention. When was the last time you solely gave your attention to the one task without your mind wandering? How long do you spend sitting at your desk before you reach for your mobile phone? Here are some tips on how to stay focused and get the most out of each day.
Focus through a camera lens
1. Avoid distractions
If you are easily distracted by a text, a Tweet, a Facebook status update or an email, then the best thing you can do to improve your focus is to go offline. Log out. The elimination of these types of distractions while you are working on a task will help you get a lot more done. If you are surrounded by a lot of noise, try wearing headphones. If you are able, find a quiet desk to work at or relocate to an unused conference room if those around you are being rowdy and distracting.
Plan Ahead and Set Goals
What are you actually trying to achieve? Define exactly what you want to get done in the specific time period that you have available. You may want to “clean the house” or “prepare the sales pitch” or “write the assignment”, but these types of goals are unlikely to be attainable in a single distraction free session. Break your goals down into an achievable target such as “do the vacuuming” or “prepare the outline of the sales pitch” or “write a paragraph of the assignment”. When you successfully complete smaller tasks, you will feel a sense of achievement; rather setting an unattainable goal and not reaching it.
It’s easy to get side-tracked when you start thinking of other things you need to do or could be doing; particularly if you’re not very engaged in you're current task. Keep a list of things you want to do (in the day, week, month etc) and prioritize them appropriately. That way you don’t have to worry about forgetting to do something, and you can revisit your list at a later time.
The Focus Point
What stops you from focusing on tasks?
Set Time Limits
If you allow yourself to work on the same thing all day, of course your attention will wane as the day goes by! Set blocks of time to do specific tasks to be most productive, and what doesn’t get done in that time period you can get back to later. For example, don’t spend all day checking emails when setting aside an hour a day would do, prioritizing them in order of importance.
Have a Clear Workspace
If you are surrounded by knick-knacks and distractions on your desk, you may be tempted to interact with them. Clear your work-space so that there is nothing there which can tempt you to break your concentration.
Short periods of intense focus are more likely to produce results than then drawn out periods of waning focus as your mind begins to wander and you start getting bored with your task.
There’s little point all work and no play so when you achieve something, reward yourself in some way! Get a massage, get an extra shot in your coffee, get your nails done, buy a magazine; anything that you like as long as it’s a small way of thanking yourself for your hard work.
There’s nothing like the sense of achievement of finishing a project, however small or insignificant it may seem. From household chores to major work presentations, having the ability to stay focused can help keep you on track to get work done sooner, so you have more time in life for the things you enjoy.