The ability to focus your attention is extremely important when it comes to getting things done. On a daily basis, when you’re focused on the job at hand, you’ll be more productive and efficient. In the longer term, focus helps you achieve your goals and become a success.
However, these days it’s becoming increasingly harder to focus. There are many distracting forces vying for your attention – from social media and text messages, to emails and online browsing. Amazingly, a recent study has found that the average person now has an attention span of just 8 seconds – that’s even less than a goldfish!
While it’s easy to blame external distracting forces, it’s you alone who chooses where your focus is at any given moment. This is great news though, because it means with a few small adjustments and regular practice, it’s possible to sharpen your focus starting today. Here’s how.
Do One Thing at a Time
When your to-do list is long, it’s tempting to try and juggle more than one task at a time. But research shows that multitasking is a myth – our brains don’t work that way. If you want to get more done, you’re far better off focusing on one task at a time.
This is true in all areas of life – from writing that report or attending a meeting at work, to walking down the street or eating your lunch. Focusing completely on what you are doing at any given time is not easy, but it’s important. You’ll get more done, in less time and without the crazy busy mindset that doing five things at once creates.
Recognise the Importance of Each Task
Reminding yourself of the importance of a task is a great way to hone your focus. If you’re struggling to get started, take a few seconds to think about why it matters. This adds meaning to whatever you’re doing, boosts your motivation levels and helps you switch your focus on and get it done.
Work in Manageable Blocks and Take Breaks
Before you begin a task that requires your complete focus, it helps to plan manageable work blocks and breaks. While taking a break when you’re busy can seem like time wasted, it’s actually really important to maintain your concentration and productivity levels. The right amount of time for work and breaks will vary from person to person, so experiment until you find the right mix. A good starting point is to follow the Pomodoro Technique which sees you work in 25-minute blocks, followed by a short break, then a longer break after every four work blocks.
Don’t Be Tempted by Distractions
It’s so very easy to be distracted by every email, text message and social media update – so when you need to focus it’s best to switch your alerts off! Even better, put your phone out of sight in your bag or desk drawer. It can also be helpful to set aside a pre-determined amount of time to answer emails and manage your social media. Once you start tracking your time spent online, you realise how much of a time suck it can be.
Train Your Brain Every Day
Like most things in life, to be good at focusing you need to practise. There are countless opportunities to train your brain to focus every day. Being mindful of what you are doing is the starting point, and from there keep your awareness on the task at hand. When your mind wanders, guide it back. Do this regularly and you’ll reap the rewards.
Look After Yourself
It’s impossible to perform any task at your best when you don’t look after yourself. Exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and meditating daily benefit your mind and body in many ways, including sharpening your focus. Trying to concentrate when you’re tired, distracted and feeling unhealthy is extremely difficult. On the flip side, when you’re well-rested, fit and calm, focus comes so much easier.
Start Sharpening Your Focus Today
The ability to focus is a must if you want to be productive and successful. By giving your full attention to your daily activities and doing one thing at a time your focus will improve immediately. Manage your time effectively, avoid distractions and look after yourself and you’ll find your brain is switched on and ready to go more often. And as a result, you’ll achieve more in less time.
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