Getting - and staying - focused can make you a lot more productive and happier. Of course, doing so is easier said than done. Some days I have razor-like focus and others, I cannot seem to stay on task. I think we can all relate to this phenomenon at some point in our week.
Let's look at some ways to get and stay focused:
- Get organized and get rid of the clutter around you. Having a clean workspace without many visual distractions is calming and promotes fewer distractions. Take a few moments at the end of your work day to get organized for the next. Look around your office once a month to see if there are items that can live somewhere else.
- Make the first 30 minutes of your day your own with no outside interaction. Use this time to organize your day, review your current actions and prioritize what you are going to work on and in what sequence. Plan to work on the tasks that require the most creativity when you are at your best. For many people, this is the first thing in the morning.
- Take breaks throughout the day to get up, move around and get your blood flowing. Sitting at your desk all day can put you into a trance and slow down your productivity.
- If something is distracting you and interrupting your focus, stop and address it so you can clear your mind and move on.
- Pay attention to your breathing. Make sure you are bringing in enough oxygen and take a few minutes consciously to do this before you begin a task that requires a lot of concentration. Think of it as warming up for the work at hand.
- Try meditating for a few minutes. Taking 10 minutes or so in the middle of the day can really bring back your focus and get you ready for the second half. It is sort of like giving your brain time to sort things out and reboot to clear the cache.
- Stop multi-tasking! Many people believe they are effective at doing many tasks simultaneously, but research has proven that it just makes you less effective, tasks take longer to do and it actually lowers the quality of our work. Turn off instant messaging on your desktop. Choose a few times throughout the day to check your email and phone.
- Get enough sleep. I find this is one of the biggest ones for me. I have so much more clarity of thought and focus when I get a good night's rest. Shoot for seven or eight hours and be consistent with your sleep times throughout the week.
- There are days when the creativity just does not flow, if you are having one of those days, do not beat yourself up. If possible, set the task aside until tomorrow and move on to the next item on your list so that you can still have a productive day.
In a study published in Science, Harvard researchers used an iPhone app to track the feelings of more than 2,220 people from around the world. More than 250,000 responses revealed some startling results: “Almost 47 percent of the time, respondents weren't focused on what they were doing. And people who had a wandering mind also had lower rates of happiness.”
Now that you have some strategies to get focused, let us look at a few benefits of being focused and in the moment.
7 Benefits of Increased Focus:
- The quality of your work will be higher.
- You will actually accomplish more.
- Being in the moment can promote those a-ha moments.
- You will remain calmer and have a more positive attitude.
- You will have the sense of accomplishment that comes when you get things done.
- You will make better decisions.
- Your stress level will be lower.
Please let me know if any of these tips help and if you have any of your own to share.
Good luck and stay focused, Alan
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images