Staying focused in this fast paced, technology driven era is definitely one of the biggest challenges for a majority of people. To make matters worse, life is becoming increasingly competitive amidst an array of attractive distractions. The only way to get things done at home, work and other spheres of life is to focus your attention on the things that are most important.
So, how can you achieve that? Here is a comprehensive guide on how to become more focused.
1. Set clear goals
Your objectives not only give you a roadmap for achieving what you want but they also define you as a person. That is why José Ortega y Gasset said: “tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.” Therefore, if you want to gain focus and stay on track, then you have to set clear goals and objectives.
Make sure they are decluttered so that you know how to approach each one of them individually rather than juggling all of them at once. You might want to list them down (at a very visible spot) in order of priority. Please note that your goals could be long and short term. For example, you can set short term goals for each day every morning and long term goals for each year every first of January.
2. Allocate your time
Research shows that our minds are truly focused for a mere 6 hours per week. It is important that you use that time in the most productive way possible. One way of doing so is by allocating time to each task and handling the toughest jobs when you are feeling very focused.
Avoid multitasking and instead, focus on one thing at a time. Confucius once said that “He who chases two rabbits catches none.” Well, the reason why that phrase could not be any truer is because multitasking leads to inefficiency because of divided attention.
3. Start with the toughest tasks
Typically, most people will start with easy and enjoyable work as they progress to tough tasks. That order drains your energy on mindless activities to the point that you might feel super exhausted way before you get to the creative and tasking parts.
4. Eliminate distractions
Apart from mental and physical exhaustion, distractions are the leading impediments to gaining and retaining focus. They are signals that light up the brain’s reward circuit and thus shift your focus from something important to another one of less importance. The good news is that more often than not we know exactly what is likely to distract us and that means we can put in place mechanisms for resisting the temptation.
For example, if your colleagues are your biggest distracters then you can shut the door to your office. If you spend a lot of time online then try switching off the internet when you are working. Basically, the point here is that you should consider taking Jim Rohn’s advice seriously – “Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.”
5. Spend little time in your favorite places
Many of us have a list of favorite online places where we get stuck every time we visit them. Every minute that you spend at these places leads you further away from your objective to stay focused. Therefore, rather than visiting them during your work hours, consider treating them as rewards for your day’s work and only visit them when you have accomplished every objective that you set out for the day.
6. Limit your sources of input
Surround yourself with things and people who actually influence you to stay focused. If you have many sources of input,then you risk incorporating some that will deviate your attention from important tasks.
7. Delegate whenever necessary
Are you piling up work that you can delegate without compromising the quality of the results? If yes then it means that you don’t trust other people as much as you should. You are taking up more work than you should and of course that might easily exhaust you and make you inefficient. Remember that exhaustion and inefficiency are not recipes for staying focused.
8. Calm your mind
Just like muscles, the mind can be stimulated and trained to channel its power to a particular course or activity. One way of doing that is by taking the time to calm it down. You can do so through meditation, yoga, and other mental exercises.
But why is it important to have a calm mind? First of all, you will be composed enough to think through everything that you are doing. Secondly, a calm mind is free of distractions and that means you will have full concentration on the things that are most important.
Exercise creates energy and eliminates stress at the same time. Every time you exercise, endorphins and serotonin are released from the pituitary glands and the brain respectively. They block out feelings of pain and also help the brain to process and store information efficiently. So, the takeaway point here is that every time you exercise you gain energy and more brain power while reducing stress and pain. All those conditions are necessary for physical and mental comfort – both of which play major roles in ensuring that you remain focused.
10. Take frequent breaks from the internet and media
As mentioned already, the internet is one of the biggest distractions of our time. When combined with the media, it can make you exist in a virtual reality that is far from the real reality. Sites like social media even have options for online friends and conversations. All these unreal things tend to take so much of our productive time and as a consequence, we end up losing focus on the real things as time goes by. Our goals and objectives keep changing as we spend more and more time browsing the web and paying attention to the media.
It is important to reverse that by staying away from the internet and media for a significant block of time at least once per week. That will help you to analyze and focus on the world beyond the computer screen.
So there you have it–a comprehensive guide on how to become more focused. Remember that it might take some time to implement some of the points but eventually, you will if you remain patient and persistent.
Don’t forget to keep track of your progress and learn to reward yourself every time you achieve a new level of focus!