3. . Here are some of my top tips for being more focused and productive at home or work.
1. Make a checklist.
Checklists show you where you are, how much you have progressed, and what still needs to be done in order to achieve your goal. Even if you suddenly fall sick and have to leave the office for a week, the moment you get back your all-important checklist will be enough to bring you up to speed.
2. Set a schedule.
The quickest way to reaching your goal is to create a schedule for it – and stick to it. How many hours each day can you truly set aside for reaching your goal? What part of the day is the best time to work on reaching your goal? A schedule also means having a specific place for you to do your work.
Choose something that will benefit the kind of work that you are doing and the kind of person you are. Will something peaceful and quiet work more for you or do you prefer to be working outdoors and surrounded by sounds of nature?
3. Make it a habit.
It is not enough, of course, to simply make a schedule. After all, creating one is easy – it is the “doing” part that is difficult. To make it easier for you to keep to your schedule, you have to turn it into a habit. Treat it as an integral part of your day that you absolutely cannot miss.
Your body does not automatically search for caffeine in the morning just because it wants to. It was trained to do so by repetitive action, strengthened by your own desire for a delicious cup of coffee. Your mind also does not look
for its daily fix of quiz shows in the evenings for no reason.
It was trained to do so as well. So why can’t you train yourself to make your goal achievement schedule a part of your daily routine as well?
4. No excuses!
It is critical that you do not allow yourself any excuses. If you do, then the excuses will never stop. Your body has a “giving-in” muscle and every time you give in, it gets more powerful. Before you know it, that muscle has been flexed
so much that it is impossible to ignore.
If you really have to, then it is okay to negotiate the terms – but do keep your word.
There are times when no matter how hard you try, you just cannot find the energy to do the work. Or perhaps you are too occupied or excited by something else that your focus on achieving your goal is absolutely ruined.
At times like this, there really is no other option left but to “negotiate” the terms of your schedule. If you are supposed to work four hours today yet you can only work three, then work an extra hour tomorrow or the day after. It is important to specify the date for your negotiated term and of course to keep your word to yourself.
This, however, is one thing that you absolutely must not make a habit of!
5. Eliminate distractions.
Distractions are your focus’ greatest enemy. Like temptation, it is insidious and will find all sorts of ways to mess with your concentration. Before you even start working, you should start by eliminating all possible sources of distraction.
Distraction can also be internal. These are those niggling doubts and worries that do nothing to help you reach your goal. You need to practice pushing them to the back of your mind. Keep practicing and they soon won’t be a bother at all!
Log out from all social networking and social messaging systems as well as Internet forums. You may say that you find lots of great information and are able to stay connected with your network or market by keeping yourself online, but surely your personal life or business can exist for a few hours without being on the Twitter and Facebook radar?
No matter how you look at it, in the end, Twitter, Facebook, forums and all other ways to communicate with people online will only be a potential source of distraction. If you have to, set a separate schedule for it – but this is one activity that should not be a part of your multitasking list.
Numerous studies have already proven that meditation techniques – just like breathing exercises – are helpful in clearing your mind and improving your focus. If the words and figures that you are supposed to analyse are blurring right before your eyes, it is definitely the time to meditate.
If your anger or resentment is making it difficult for you to concentrate, meditating will also do the trick. You do not need to chant any mantras to meditate – although if you feel it will help, go ahead and do so. But in any case, finding a quiet place to sit and close your eyes and let your mind wander freely is good enough.
Do try not to lie down while meditating as you may end up sleeping instead.
7. Take a time-out.
Sometimes, you can get a little burned out if you have been working too hard for the past few days. When this happens, it is okay to take a little breather from your work schedule. Of course time-outs cannot last forever so do make sure that you time it as well.
If you are working only for a few hours, then fifteen to thirty minutes should be enough. If, however, your schedule encompasses the whole day, then an hour at the most would be sufficient. Anything longer than that may make you too lazy enough to get back to work.
8. Enjoy what you are doing.
Find a way to make the process of achieving your goal enjoyable. Sometimes, it only takes a change of scenery. Other times, you just have to find the right angle to look at your situation. When you are doing something you love, such as baking, reading, or dancing, then you absolutely have no problems concentrating, don’t you?
But if you are being forced to do something you hate, then only with the greatest effort are you able to keep yourself focused on your work.
9. Try a change of pace.
Focus is also dependent on pace. You may be trying to do things too fast or slow for your brain to actually enjoy what you are doing. When your pace is too punishingly fast, you are more liable to commit mistakes. In your effort to save yourself time, you are actually causing yourself to suffer greater delays since some of your tasks have to be redone or rectified.
Using an excessively slow or relaxing pace is no good either. Do not overestimate your ability to work because that can ultimately develop into procrastination if you are not careful.
10. Consider a change of setting.
Sometimes, working in the same place day in and day out can get a little boring, and your mind will start to wander – relentlessly. When you have tried your best to keep your mind from wandering to no avail, then a change of setting may be in order.
Look for a different place – just for a day or two – to stay when it is time to work on achieving your goal. A new place may be enough to spark your interest in your goals. It may also help get your creative juices flowing and give you an idea or two on how to better motivate yourself.
10. Be methodical.
The best way to stay focused is to be methodical. Do not choose a random point to start working toward your goal. Whatever it is you are aiming for – even if it is to improve your marriage or lose weight – there is sure to be a methodical or logical system for doing it.
Taking a methodical approach helps improve your focus because it enables you to see where you are going. If you are feeling a little bored concentrating on the task at hand, you can switch your attention to making the necessary adjustments to prepare for the tasks in line.
11. It is all about you!
Well-meaning friends may encourage you to try this and that to improve focus. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with taking their words into account. Remember, however, that every person is built differently. What may work for them may not work for you.
That does not mean, however, only one of you is doing the right thing. In the end, the best way to improve your focus is to do what works for you.
12. Emotional conflicts.
One of the worst kinds of distraction is emotional conflict. This kind of problem eats away at your concentration. If there is anything that is bothering you, resolve it right away before getting back to work. Do not allow it to fester inside you.
The longer you delay resolving such conflicts, the harder a time you will have finding a way to re-open the discussion about it.
13. Know your priorities.
If you are torn between doing two things, you have to give yourself another ultimatum. Which is the more important priority – the goal you are working on or the alternative? Be brutally frank to yourself as you consider your options. If you have to choose which of the two you should lose, which of them are you willing to give up?
14. Maximize your time.
Maximize your time in the sense that you should delegate what may be delegated to other capable individuals, thus allowing you to concentrate on the most critical tasks. Your focus will be ruined if you have a million things to do and yet you are worrying the most about only three of them.
If this is the case, you will never get to finish anything. Do yourself a favor. Find people whom you can trust to do a part of your work and then devote yourself to doing what you feel needs the most of your attention.
15. Bite sized chunks.
Say you were given one whole cake to eat. Should you swallow it down in one bite? It would be pretty impossible to make an entire cake fit your mouth, but you can definitely eat it all if you cut it into several slices. From there, you can eat a slice of cake one bite after another.
Sometimes, focusing on the bigger picture alone is not helpful. There are times when you have to forget about the bigger picture first and concentrate on one part of the picture at a time.