With all the daily distractions, stresses, and to-do’s we have to get done, getting focused and “in the zone” for work can often be challenging. Knowing how to combat these obstacles and setting ourselves up for focus is key to the success of our work. We need to have the tools to get motivated and stay focused on the tasks that come with our daily workload, and these are six ways to help us do just that.
Make movement a part of your day, every day!
Get your blood circulating! It doesn’t have to be a marathon or even an intense gym workout, but daily exercise that gets your blood flowing to your brain helps get you focused and “in the zone” for work. Use exercise to kick start your day or use it to break up your workload by adding a change in routine and scenery. Exercise will not only help to improve your focus, but it can also help reduce stress and anxiety and can lift your mood for hours to come.
Stay nourished, and don’t go hungry.
Nutrition is a key factor for maintaining focus. Can anyone really concentrate on anything else when their belly is grumbling? Stop fantasizing about your favorite restaurants when you are working by starting your day with a good solid meal. Eat something nutritious and filling that will hold you over until your next snack/meal. Choose a combination of fruits, veggies, protein, and whole grains to satisfy your hunger, and be sure to drink enough water throughout the day. You will find it much easier to jump back into your work when you stay hydrated and satiated.
Get enough quality sleep and take a rest when needed.
Sleep is not something we should be sacrificing! We’ve all heard the recommendation of getting 8 hours of sleep each night (give or take a small amount), and it’s true! Our bodies need this time to recoup and regenerate our energy for the next day, and by dismissing these needs or not giving our bodies this time, we will have difficulty focusing on the next day’s tasks. Daydreaming about a nap or falling asleep at the keyboard is not the best for productivity, and focus will be nowhere in sight.
Write down your daily priorities.
It might sound cliché, but things really are easier and more likely to get done when we write things down and prioritize. When we keep it in our head, the list of things we need to get done can feel overwhelming, and it can be hard to know where to begin. To focus on the tasks at hand, write down a short list of priorities each day. When you complete a task, cross it off, and be sure to finish your list before you begin a new one—this sense of accomplishment will carry you through to the next tasks at hand.
Put yourself in an environment to block out distractions.
Stay focused by blocking out distractions. You are well-rested, not hungry, and have your list of priorities ready to go—now get to work and stop checking your phone or chatting with your fellow coffee shop goers. Find the environment that will allow you to put your head down and work. If you find it a habit to check your phone and social media 75 times during a task you are trying to complete, put it in another room until your next break. If you are a chatty person and enjoy striking up conversations with the barista at the coffee shop, find a quieter place to work where you won’t have so many people around to chat to, and instead venture in for a coffee on your break. If working from home, drown out any distractions with some classical music or ocean/rain sounds in the background.
Use your time wisely (peak focus times).
You can’t be focused all the time. Even with taking the previously discussed measures, we aren’t designed to be able to stay in the game all day long without burning out. Find the times that are peak focus times for you, and plan accordingly. If you are great at working in the morning, use that to your advantage. If you know that you can only focus for 2 hours at a time, plan for that and allow yourself some time in between to decompress and rest or exercise. Peak times will be when you are energized, rested, and not hungry! By taking this time to unwind, you will be able to refocus your attention for your next peak work session.
“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.” –Dale Carnegie