Most of us wish that we could be more productive. Lots of us are capable of bursts of productivity now and then but sustaining that in the long-term requires us to be able to effectively maintain focus.
Below are six tips for doing just that and keeping your mind firmly on the task at hand.
One of the most common reasons that people struggle to stay focused on important tasks is because they are trying to do multiple things simultaneously.
Some people are convinced that they can only work if they have some kind of background noise to prevent their minds from wandering. However, for most people, it’s much more effective to learn to be more disciplined and remain focused on a single task.
Practice Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness are both powerful techniques for learning to live in the moment and how to be present and aware at all times. Not only will practicing mindfulness improve your ability to focus more, but it is also a proven method for reducing stress and anxiety in general.
This in itself can help you to stay more focused – it’s hard to keep your mind on one specific thing when you have a million different worries on your mind.
Look for Productivity-Enhancing Web Browser Extensions
There are a number of extensions for web browsers that are designed to minimize the number of distractions that you have to contend with when you’re trying to work.
For example, anyone who wants to stay focused can use an add-on like BlockSite, which provides users with a focus timer tool that makes it easy to block access to certain websites during certain periods of the day.
If you’re the kind of person who habitually opens a new tab and loads their favorite time-wasting website as soon as their mind begins to wander from the task in front of them, then a scheduling app might be a simple but very effective solution for helping you to stay focused on the task at hand.
Exercising regularly isn’t just good for your physical health, although it is worth it for those benefits alone. Exercise also promotes good mental health and has been shown to improve both memory capacity and concentration.
The exact mechanisms that underpin this are still debated, but there is growing research to show that over time exercise physically rewires memory circuits in the brain in a way that improves their functioning.
Set Yourself a To-Do List
Writing out a to-do list of all the tasks that you have to complete and then putting them in order of priority will enable you to focus your attention on those tasks that really demand it, and help you to avoid the stress of being busy but not actually getting anything done.
Once you can see a pathway through all the tasks that you have to complete, it is much easier to focus on them as you do them.
Give Yourself Regular Breaks
You might think that the less time you spend taking breaks, the more you will be able to get done. However, taking breaks at strategic intervals will, in fact, enable you to maximize your focus and productivity.
You can only work for so long before your attention begins to wane and you begin to find it difficult to keep your mind on the task at hand. When this happens, it’s inevitable that you will lose focus.
Try to give yourself regular breaks, such as five minutes every 25 minutes or 15 minutes every 45 minutes, whenever you are working for extended periods.
Staying focused can be surprisingly difficult, especially if you are used to distractions and futile attempts at multitasking. The trick is to develop a routine so that a more focused approach becomes second nature.