In a world where instant gratification is treasured and you rarely have to watch more than a few moments of a sound bite, it can be hard to stay focused and productive. But being focused is necessary to be productive.
If you’re struggling with focus, here are a few tips to help you stay free from distractions and accomplish more.
Set Up A Physical Boundary. No matter what environment you work in, setting a physical boundary can help minimize distractions. If you have an office with a door, shut it when you need to focus. If you’re in a cubicle, post a polite sign asking not to be disturbed.
If you have a home office, make sure that your family and friends are aware that when you’re working they need to respect that space. It helps if you can set up your office in a room that isn’t used for other things.
Make a Daily Task List. It helps to get more done throughout the day if you keep a list of what needs to be done where you can see it. This can be posted on your computer desktop, on a dry erase board, or kept on a notepad by your desk.
Try to have a list with no more than 3 things on it for each day. 3 things may not sound a lot, but these are the things that you either must do or at least make a start on. Dividing larger tasks into smaller chunks can keep it from feeling overwhelming and boring. It can also keep you from feeling like procrastinating on a big project that will be time consuming.. You don’t want to become overwhelmed with what you need to do, but you do want a visual reminder of what needs to be done each day.
Make the Most of Time Management Apps. If you find yourself easily distracted by email, social media, and other sites that are time wasters you may want to take advantage of computer apps that lock those down. Examples include SelfControl and Cold Turkey.
These programs will automatically block specific sites so that you can’t be distracted by them. You can set a time limit and you can decide which ones to block or keep free.
Use a Timer. It’s impossible to be completely focused on a task for hours at a time. You may find it helpful to set a timer for 25 minutes that will allow you to stay focused for that time. Then give yourself a five minute break to get a drink of water, walk around a bit, or just take your mind off of work so that you can feel refreshed.
Do the Worst Tasks First. For some people it’s helpful to just get the worst tasks over with before getting on with the rest of the day. This is a good solution for procrastination and leaves the rest of the day free for the tasks you enjoy.
Don’t try to implement all these tips in one go, choose one or two and see if they work for you, and remember being focused is necessary to be productive.
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Till Next Time
Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor