Whether you’re a student at College or University, self-employed or an employee, the ability to focus can have a beneficial effect on your productivity. Life in the 21st century is a very distracting place, where our brains are constantly seeking out what’s new or what’s next. Which means that our ability to concentrate on one thing, at a time, is very limited.
This can often lead to the feeling that we’re flitting from one task to another but completing very little. So how can we ensure that we focus on a task until completion and improve our productivity? The following tips should help:
To do list
It’s hard to focus when we have lots of tasks going around our brains, but we aren’t sure where to start. Writing a daily Action list helps us to prioritise those tasks. It also makes us accountable and stops our brains from constantly switching from one thought to another. Our brains have a finite amount of mental energy. So if we’re constantly making decisions about what needs doing, we have less energy for concentrating. Therefore, making the decisions about what needs to be done each morning can leave more mental energy for focussing.
Devote specific hours to tasks
It can often happen that if we designate too much time to a task, we can struggle to get started on it. By allowing yourself a certain amount of time to complete a task, the decision about when to start is taken away from you. Because you need to get started straightaway. This allows you to switch your focus from one task to another without wasting too much mental energy.
Take regular breaks
We can only concentrate for 20 minutes at a time. It makes sense to take regular breaks from a task before re-focusing on the task when we return. Studies have shown that taking a short break in the middle of a task can re-energise the brain and enable us to stay focussed on what we’re doing.
We’ve already established that it is difficult to focus in this distracting world we live in. Multi-tasking makes it even harder for our brains to concentrate on each task it is faced with. We must understand where our focus needs to be at each part of our day/week/month. If we’re asking it to concentrate on writing a report, whilst replying to emails and answering the phone, we will find that we are constantly re-visiting the same sentence or paragraph and not actually writing anymore. Eliminating other tasks and distractions, will help us to focus and be more productive.
We’re all familiar with the concept of exercising to help weight control and fitness. Exercise is also vital to brain health, boosting mental capacity and concentration, which are important to our ability to focus. It can also act as a means for taking a break, enabling us to refocus on that difficult task when we return.
Hopefully these tips will give you an idea of what you can do to improve your focus and in turn your productivity.
If you’d like to discuss how you could improve your focus and free up two hours a day everyday, drop me a message to [email protected] and we’ll arrange a call.
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Till Next Time
Mike Gardner – The Time Doctor