We face various kinds of challenges each day, but nothing seems to be more challenging than staying focused. But how can you focus when there’s a lot of things crying for your attention all the time? If it’s not your boss calling you on your cellphone, it’s Facebook or Twitter tempting you to update your status. The worst thing is that our minds are not designed to bounce around like a ball from one court to another. On the contrary, we are designed to focus on one thing at a time. While it’s okay to multi-task from time to time, shifting your attention from one thing to another can actually hurt your brain, which can later on lead to unproductivity. So how do you concentrate on one thing so that you can get things done? Here are seven tips that can help you do just that.
Work on One Item at a Time
It may seem pretty obvious, but focus can only be achieved if your mind is fixed on one thing at a time. Avoid multitasking at all cost, because it can do more harm to your productivity (and your health) than good. When you work on multiple tasks at a time, you will only end up wasting your time and your energy. On the other hand, if you concentrate hard on a specific task and commit to completing it before moving on to the next, you’ll get more things done quickly.
Eliminate Common Distractions
Determine the things that you know and believe are usually causing you distraction and disconnect from them. Take social media, for instance. While there are studies saying that opening your Facebook page during break time at work can be good for you, you would be able to focus more efficiently by totally disconnecting from any form of social media. Turning off notifications from emails and reminders from cellphones will also help increase your focus and productivity. Only entertain them once you’re done with your tasks.
Get Yourself Moving
Exercising may not directly increase your productivity, but it sure can help enhance your concentration. Physical activity promotes the release of endorphins, which doesn’t only suppress pain, but also reduces feelings of stress. It also causes the release of serotonin, a chemical that boosts your mood and your sense of happiness. Aside from those, exercise also promotes the creation of new brain neurons, which are responsible for easy information processing and storage.
Take Control of Your Thoughts
It may seem that your biggest distractions are the things crying out for your attention, but it’s actually your own thoughts that are robbing you of focus. The human brain is very powerful and is capable of processing thousands of information at a time, and if you simply allow your thoughts to run wildly through your mind, there’s no way you can get anything done. The key is learning how to control your thoughts, so that your mind is only focusing on one item at a time. One way to do this is through meditation. Whether it’s through yoga, a short walk in the park, or a simple breathing exercise, meditation can greatly help enhance your focus.
Declutter Your Desk…and Your Brain
Have you ever tried working on a messy desk? How did it go? If you ever completed an actual task doing it, I would bet it didn’t come easily. Most types of distractions are visual, so when you’re working on a cluttered environment, like a desk full of paper for instance, your brain will shift from one item to another, because your eyes do so. By decluttering your desk, you are also decluttering your brain and closing unnecessary mental tabs, so that your mind focuses only what your eyes could see, and that’s the task at hand.
Be Clear with Your Goals
Setting goals and objectives is an effective way to stay focused and on track. When you don’t have a specific target for the day, your brain will have a higher tendency to jump from thought to another. On the contrary, if you start your day with a list of things to do and goals to accomplish, you will program your mind to focus on the things on your checklist.
Simplify Your Life and Your Job
It may seem incorrect that the formula to increase your productivity is having fewer things to do, but if you come to think of it, you’ll actually be able to get more things done by simplifying your life and your job. The reason is that most of the important tasks that need to be done are the ones that can make a difference, and they’re not too many. Many of us waste our time and energy on minor tasks that don’t actually add value to our lives. By simplifying your life and concentrating your energy only on the essentials, you will have greater focus and you’ll be able to get more things done.
Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence