Are you looking for ways to improve your focus and get more done? Do you ever lose track of where all your time goes? I know, I find this happens to me more than I like to admit. I will look at the clock in disbelief of where the time went and feel defeated that I did not accomplish all I had set out to.
Here are thirteen strategies you can use to improve your focus and, therefore, increase your productivity. You can also read more about how to increase focus and concentration here.
1. Track your time.
Track and write down everything that you do for an entire week. After the week is over, analyze the results. You might be surprised to find out you’ve been wasting time on little things like checking your email or social media such as Facebook too often. You will be amazed at how much time you can save by getting rid of the time-wasters.
2. Set your goals.
Break down your goals into smaller or shorter-term goals, so you have clarity and know exactly what you need to be focusing on. You can read about setting SMART goals here. Don’t just breeze over this step. You can find out why it is so important to set goals and review them regularly here.
3. Plan your week ahead of time.
At the beginning of each week, take the time to plan out everything you want to accomplish in the coming week. Write down all of the associated tasks. Also, write down all of your family activities and appointments that you may have in the week. You can use timeboxing to accomplish this.
4. Review your list and eliminate anything that isn’t essential.
If there are items you can outsource or delegate, then do so and remove them from your list. For example, if you need to mow your lawn, you could delegate this to one of your kids. If it is something business-related, you can hire a virtual assistant to help you with tasks that you can hire out, such as all of your social media posting for the week.
5. Prioritize what is left on your list and add your tasks to your calendar.
Order the tasks that you wrote down in step 2 above from the most important to the least important. Put each task on your calendar, estimating how long each task will take and marking out blocks of time for each one.
6. Schedule a specific amount of time each day for checking/answering email and social media.
Whether it is at the beginning of your day or the end or somewhere in the middle, it doesn’t matter, just make sure that you have set aside a certain amount of time for it and only do it once a day if possible, twice at the most. Do not do it at any other time than the time you have scheduled it for.
7. Quit multitasking.
Become laser-focused on one thing at a time and finish one task or project before moving on to the next. It may take a while to get used to focusing on only one project at a time, but stick with it, and it will become a habit. This alone can have a significant impact on increasing your productivity.
8. Make a separate to-do list of distractions that pop up.
Rather than jumping on the internet as soon as you want to look something up that pops into your mind, jot it down on a separate to-do list so that you will remember to do it during your free time. These are things that are not pertinent to the task at hand, but things that you don’t want to forget to do either.
For example, you may think, “How long does it take to drive to my appointment tomorrow?” Rather than stopping and looking it up right then, write it down on your distractions to-do list to do later when you have finished what you are working on.
Anytime we get distracted in this way, it takes about 20 minutes to get back to where you were with your original task. Instead, next time an idea pops into your head and you want to look it up on the internet, jot it down on a piece of paper so you can do it later. You can read more about how to handle interruptions here.
9. Learn to say no to things you don’t have time for.
If you already have a full day’s schedule, don’t feel like you have to take on another project for someone else simply because they ask you.
10. Create an environment that inspires you.
Set up your workspace so that it works for you. If you need a quiet space, away from others or the television, create a space that accomplishes this. Add things such as inspiring artwork and a comfortable chair. Make sure your area is neat, clean, and free of clutter. This alone will do wonders for your ability to focus. If you concentrate better while listening to music or some ambient noise, be sure to have a way to make that happen.
11. Schedule breaks.
Everyone needs to take a break now and then, make sure you are adding in short breaks to your schedule to help keep you from burning out when you are working on a big task or project. Take a walk or do some stretches during your breaks, so you are not just always sitting.
12. Break up larger tasks or chunk it.
Some things will require that you break them down into small, more manageable chunks of time with breaks in between. If you are working on something that you estimate will take you four hours to complete, break it down into 30-minute chunks. Work on it for 30 minutes, then take a small break. For example, if you are writing an eBook, don’t try to do the whole thing at once. Break it down. Take 30 minutes to write out the outline. Take a short break. Then 30 minutes to research the first chapter. And so on.
13. Download an app on your phone to boost your productivity and concentration.
Apps such as Evernote can keep you organized and keep track of distractions. In other apps, such as Brain Wave, you can choose settings like Concentration Boost and Problem Solving, Brainstorming, or Memory Boost and Creative Thinking. Other apps can help you stay focused and productive, as well. You can search for them on the app store and pick one that works well for you.
There are many different ways to improve your focus. Among them are Making lists, removing distractions, and setting up your ideal environment. Try the ways above and find what works best for you.