Focus according to the Oxford Learners Dictionary, “The word focus means to give attention, effort, to one particular object, situation, or person rather than another”
Do you find it hard to concentrate on tasks? Your mind and thoughts drift away easily anytime you sit down to work. Does your attention seem to be so short-lived? Well, you may not be the only one in this dilemma.
Staying focused in this highly technological era is one hack of a job. With notifications from social media platforms popping up every now and then, calls and texts from family, friends, and associates, errands to run, and meetings to attend. All these leave one’s mind running around most times.
The more focused one is the faster the work will be done and well done too but the less focused you are, the more time spent on work without achieving the desired result.
How to stay focused and get the work done.
The following are ways to stay focused on a task.
- Relax your mind.
- Make a plan.
- Set a goal/target.
- Remove any form of distractions, and keep your phone out of sight.
- Ensure a clean workspace.
- Take short breaks.
- Exercise daily.
- Know the best time of the day for you.
- Use suitable furniture.
- Have a good night’s rest.
- Create an hourly work plan.
- Write down all your ideas.
- Keep your to-do list organized.
- Set deadlines for each task.
- Split time-consuming tasks.
- Block distracting websites.
- Check email less frequently.
- Less coffee intake.
- Find inspiration.
- The Pomodoro technique.
Benefits of staying focused
- Increased work productivity
- Builds momentum
- Better work quality
- Good job satisfaction
- Reduces stress
Here are some little tips on how to stay focused
1. Relax your mind
Form a habit of relaxing and calming your mind and nerves. You could listen to calming music, and a hot cup of coffee/tea could do the trick. Try and get into the mood for the activity of the day.
2. Make a plan
Have an already organised schedule/plan on how to handle the task or work at hand. Assess your risks and constraints.
Highlight your ideas, if it is a big task you can section or break it into smaller fractions for ease. Take a task at a time, do not take up more than one task at any given time.
3. Set a goal/target
Before you begin your work keep in mind that you want to finish the task at a specific time and work towards it.
Ensure that your target is an achievable one, do not cluster up different tasks to be carried out within a reasonable space of time.
Set a SMART goal. SMART stands for the following:
- Specific: The task should be well-defined
- Measurable: The task should be measurable.
- Achievable: Is the task realistic? Can it be done by the deadline?
- Relevant: Is the task relevant to your field of Study?
- Timely: When does it need to be done?
4. Remove any form of distractions, and keep your phone out of sight
Distractions can be in the form of noise and social media, of which a headset could be of help.
Silence all social media notifications. Switch off the television, and ignore annoying colleagues if at work. A quiet corner is preferable for you to stay focused.
You are more likely to pick up your phone to check messages and so on if it is on your working table or environment. However, the tendency to pick up the phone is reduced when the phone is out of sight thus increasing your ability to stay focused.
Also, you can silence or switch off the phone during your work period. This will greatly reduce the distraction caused by the use of phones and other devices.
5. Ensure a clean workspace
The work area should be clean and arranged because it helps you not to get distracted by things lying around on the table or on the floor.
6. Take short breaks in between tasks
In between your work take short breaks, take snacks, and take a walk these will help you feel refreshed.
Studies have shown that these short breaks help you to go through what you have been working on and also memorize some important information. It would improve your creativity and productivity.
7. Exercise daily
Regular exercise is a good boost for a thinking mind. A walk around the park or a run along the path is not only good for keeping fit and healthy but also helps to relax your mind and get it ready to work. Yoga is another form of exercise that helps to relax your mind and improve concentration.
8. Know the best time of the day for you
Since this may not be the first time you have handled a task, you should try and map the best time that your body was most energetic and your brain was fully alert and was able to give you the highest achievements/outcomes.
9. Use a suitable furniture
Get a comfortable table and chair, an uncomfortable chair will easily make you tired and will predispose you to recurrent body aches which lead to most of the time and manpower.
Be it a chair or table, they have to be appropriate and suitable enough but not too comfortable for the kind of work you want to do.
Learn to sit straight to avoid bad posture and body aches because this may lead to a delay in your work.
10. Have a good night’s rest
Do not overstretch yourself, have a good night’s sleep, at least get eight hours of sleep a day, limit or reduce daytime naps, and do not go to bed hungry or overfed.
This will keep you refreshed when you wake up in the morning to start or continue your work. It also makes it easy for you to stay focused.
11. Create an hourly work plan
Split your daily target or goal per hour. That way you know exactly what you need to achieve every hour.
Set realistic hourly targets, and also prioritise your work in such a way that the more demanding tasks are done when your energy level is high such as in the morning or after a refreshing break.
12. Write down all your ideas
New ideas often come to mind when we are working on a task, these new ideas can be distracting sometimes thus affecting our ability to stay focused.
An effective way to deal with these new ideas is to write them down on a piece of paper or book and attend to them later. That way we are able to stay focused on the task at hand and also safely keep our new ideas for review at another time.
13. Keep your to-do list organized
Have an organised list of what you need to do. Fragment your to-do list into days, weeks, months and possibly years.
Organise your to-do list in order of importance, so that you know which task to do first. Cross out the task you accomplish each day from your to-do list so that at the end of the day you know what is left to be done.
14. Set deadlines for each task
Set a designated timeline for all the tasks on the to-do list. This gives you an idea of what you need to achieve at any point in time.
Having a specific mapped-out time for each task reduces the tendency to burn valuable time on things you don’t need.
15. Split time-consuming tasks
A huge task that needs an enormous amount of time to achieve, such as days or weeks may make one feel nothing is achieved each day until the task is achieved. This feeling may have a negative effect on one’s psychology.
Instead of taking one huge task at a time, it is better to split this task into smaller tasks that can be achieved daily. This will give some degree of satisfaction that progress is been made. It also gives a sense of focus and direction and the next task in line is known.
16. Block distracting websites
The world is now a global village where everything you can possibly imagine is available online. Consequently, we work most time with our laptops and other devices.
These systems we work with are usually connected to the internet network, meaning that as we work, our ability to stay focused is affected by ads and pop-up messages from the site that may distract us.
These ads and pop-up messages usually have interesting and captivating titles that attract our attention and lure us out of what we are doing while trying to check out those sites.
A significant amount of valuable time is lost due to these distractions. an easy way to curtail this kind of distraction is to switch off our internet when we don’t need it. Alternatively, one can block some of these sites thus limiting their ability to send ads and pop-up messages on your working page.
17. Check email less frequently
With the advent of all kinds of devices with internet access, checking our emails becomes a lot easier, consequently, some people might find themselves checking their emails every five to ten minutes.
This practice limits our ability to stay focused which is detrimental to work productivity and leads to a lot of distractions. It is better if one imbibes some degree of discipline and checks the mail in a structured manner.
The emails can be checked every three hours, that way distraction is reduced and emails are effectively checked and attended to.
18. Less coffee intake
Though taking coffee in mild to moderate quantities is good, as the saying goes too much of anything is bad and coffee is not exempted.
Too much intake of coffee can lead to dizziness and insomnia with attendant negative effects on one’s ability to focus on a task.
In order to stay focused on a task, it is advisable to reduce coffee intake and substitute coffee sometimes with water.
19. Find inspiration
We need inspiration to be motivated to execute and complete tasks. when we are not inspired by a particular task we may find it difficult to complete the task in record time.
We need to be interested in the tasks we execute and this interest can easily be generated if we stay focused on the benefits of the task to our company, establishment or community when the task is completed.
20. The Pomodoro technique
Pomodoro is named after a tomato-shaped timer. It is designed to help you stay focused for short periods of time followed by a short break. The aim is to keep you focused on the task.
This method is designed to train your brain to stay focused on the task for short periods of time. Here’s how the Pomodoro technique works:
- Set your alarm for 25 minutes and get to work.
- When the alarm sounds at the end of 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break.
- Reet the time again to 25 minutes and get back to work.
- When you have successfully done four rounds, you can take a longer break, approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
Benefits of staying focused
1. Increases work productivity
When you stay focused on the task, you are likely going to be more productive and will finish your task in record time and move on to execute other tasks.
2. Builds Momentum
When you stay focused on one task at a time, in addition to increased productivity, you spend less time completing your tasks and rapidly start other designated tasks.
The speed at which tasks are completed also motivates you to start other tasks as scheduled on your to-do list and ensures that your hourly, daily, weekly and monthly targets are met.
3. Better work quality
Your ability to stay focused in addition to the other benefits stated above ensures that your work is error-free.
Depending on the type of task and service you provide, when your work is error-free it builds a good reputation for you and will attract more clients, customer base, endorsement, contracts and so on.
4. Good job satisfaction
Staying focused increases your proficiency as stated above, and it also leads to better job satisfaction, because your set goals and targets are achieved in record time with acceptable quality.
3. Reduces stress
Stress is not good for anyone or any individual. Staying focused helps you achieve what you planned to achieve within a specific period, by so reduces tension and stress.