Being able to fully focus on one task at a time becomes more and more difficult every year. With new technologies and social media platforms, distractions are lurking behind every corner. Our brains are practically programmed to look for distractions.
I get distracted pretty easily, if I receive a notification on my phone, I almost instantly have to check who messaged me.
In order to manage my time more efficiently and write as much as I need to while working 40 hours a week and getting in shape, I started implementing these simple tips and noticed great improvements on my focus. I am now able to write an entire blog post in one go and achieve greater results in a shorter amount of time.
Visualize the outcome
Should you sit down for 15 minutes, close your eyes and see yourself having achieved your daily goal? If you´d have to meditate before taking on every task while being on a tight schedule you´d need 50 hour days and that won´t happen any time soon.
What I mean is simply visualizing and feeling the sense of accomplishment you get after finishing a task. Almost nobody does this, most people just jump right into the task without giving it any second thought.
Just imagining the sense of accomplishment you will feel after completing the task will give you the initial motivation to be able to give it your full attention.
Determine an anchor
An anchor can be anything, a song, a touch, a person or even a pen. Did you ever feel depressed and suddenly got into a good mood because of a song you heard that reminded you of a great time you had with your friends?
That´s an anchor.
If you always use the same laptop exclusively for work, that can be your anchor. As soon as you see it, you get into work-mode.
If you´re a salesman for example, use a special pen only for signing deals you closed. I can guarantee that every time you see that pen, you will remember all the sales you made and get into closer-mode.
Choose your anchor by using a special item or listening to the same song every time you find yourself fully immersed in a task. With time, you will get focused as soon as you hear the song or see the item you chose to anchor your state.
Schedule your social media time
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media platforms are great for promoting your business or staying in touch with friends and relatives, but when it comes to concentrating on a task, they are your worst enemy.
You start working and suddenly your friend Mike pops into your head. Sooner than you realize, you´re already checking out what Mike had for lunch today, then you skip to Lisa, a friend you have in common, from Lisa to your aunt and then you suddenly realize that one little distraction caused you to waste half an hour.
Set aside time for social media and try not getting back to it during the same day. If you have to respond and interact with customers, commit to not logging in until you completed your task.
Start small and reward yourself
You don´t want to challenge yourself from the very beginning and try to maintain focus for a couple of hours straight. Believe me, I tried it and it doesn´t work and even if it works, it will for 2-3 days until you burn out and fall back into your old habits.
Start with 5 minutes. Once you managed to remain fully focused for 5 minutes, take 2 minutes to reward yourself and read a short article you wanted to read or do anything that makes you happy.
Then increase the time to 10 minutes.
If you keep increasing the time you dedicate to fully focusing on a task and reward yourself after every accomplishment, you will not only train your brain to get used to fully focusing for a longer period but you will also start associating focusing with positive emotions.
Break down big tasks into smaller ones
Looking at a huge tasks probably won´t motivate you. You will feel exhausted before even starting.
If you break down your tasks into small pieces, suddenly they become more achievable. Whenever I had to write a 1500 word blog post, I used to get depressed and start doubting if I could even get it done by the end of the day.
Then I started chunking it down into smaller pieces. First, writing the introduction, then the conclusion and finally one bullet point at a time for the main content. Suddenly writing a 1500 words post became easy and less challenging.
Establish your most productive time
I am not exactly sure why, but my brain isn´t able to deliver the same performance in the morning as in the evening. That´s why I choose to work out in the morning and sit down to write a blog post after lunch.
Analyze your results and establish your most productive time for working on your tasks.
I used to buy 2-3 Redbulls and pull an all-nighter. Then one day I did the same without Redbull and realized that I was way less tired and more focused without energy drinks.
While sugar produces a rush of endorphins and makes you feel good and more attentive, these effects only last for a while, leaving you with an even more intense low and a strong desire for more sugar.
Get thirsty or hungry while working? Drink water or eat salad, your focus will appreciate it.
Being able to write a blog post and talk to a client on the phone at the same time would be awesome, right?
It wouldn´t. In fact, your brain aren´t even able to perform various tasks at once, all you´re doing is rapidly switching our attention from one tasks to another and draining our brains energy, which in turn significantly reduces our capability of fully concentrating on something.
Would you rather finish 2 tasks simultaneously and end up with mediocre results or focus on one task at a time and achieve a great outcome?
If these tips helped me greatly improve my focus, they will do the same for you. Remember to start small and work on your abilities, you will be able to give your full attention sooner than you think.