If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.
Does focus elude you? Do you multi-task at the cost of focusing on your more important projects? Have you ever wished that you could have laser-like focus? Ever thought, “Hmm, I wish I could just take a pill that would help me focus.” Well, as we all know, there is medicine for this type of need. But I think even people who take focus-enhancing medicine will attest that unless you have a good process and discipline, you’re still not going to have great success with just a pill.
Here’s how you can achieve laser-like focus using the strength of your mind.
1. Eliminate Distractions. There are many parts to this.
- Plan Your Day. This will allow your mind to be free from worry because you’ll know that you’ve scheduled your most important tasks according to priority.
- Clear Your Desk. Do this quickly. Don’t get caught up. Just remove distractions and leave the sorting for later.
- Close All Unrelated Computer Programs.
- Eliminate Noises. No TV, radio, etc. Consider getting noise canceling headphones if you work around noise. The caveat is if you are doing physical work that doesn’t require mental concentration, then by all means use music for energy if it helps you.
- Don’t Answer the Phone. That’s what voicemail is for!
2. Visual Reminders. Some people are very visually oriented. If that is you, then create some type of visual reminder of the task you are working on. It can be a little yellow sticky note right on your computer monitor or it can be a big banner sized poster in bold red letters. This works well for me. I highly recommend it, even if it feels silly. You can also use it as a muse if your work is creative based by adding other prompt words or images.
3. Create a Hook to Super Charge Your Interest. Many times we have to work on things that we aren’t excited about. Sometimes it can be pure drudgery. Well, if that is the case, then just buck up and find a way to get interested. Focus on the benefits of completing your work. That’s why you’re doing it, right? There must be some benefit even if it is that you will be avoiding something negative. Tell yourself that you like it. It can help to even be silly about it. Find ways to make it fun. Find ways to make it sexy. Find ways to make it exciting. If you ask yourself “How can I make this work fun,” you will find an answer. If you’re already working on something you’re passionate about, then focus on that and exaggerate your excitement.
4. Set Mini-Deadlines. Chunk the work into pieces. Plan it out on paper. Use timers to keep on schedule.
5. Take Frequent Mini Breaks. Get up. Go to a different location. Stretch. Close your eyes. Take 10 deep breaths. Check your progress vs. your daily plan. Do this when you start to feel stuck, frustrated, low energy, or when you just need a break. You’ll come back rejuvenated and better able to focus.
6. Relaxed Discipline. Stay on task, but don’t be harsh, critical, and stressed. This will block creativity and productivity.
- Be relaxed in your approach to your work. How? Commit to this: “It’s ok if it’s not perfect. It’s even OK if I fail. As long as I try and keep making forward progress.”
- Be disciplined in a firm way, but without harsh judgment and pressure. Supervise yourself, watch out for procrastination tendencies, and, like with a child, gently bring yourself back to the task if you find yourself losing focus.
What are your secrets for staying focused? When was the last time you had great success with focusing on one thing versus trying to multi-task?
Written for Dumb Little Man by K. Stone, author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. Popular articles are Maximum Energy in 10 Simple Steps and Your Most Productive Week Ever!