When you focus, you’re able to accomplish lots of high-quality work. Your creative juices are flowing, and you make it all look easy. However, today’s ever-connected digital life can make it feel impossible to focus on any one task.
If it seems like you can never spend more than a few minutes on a project before picking up something else, it’s time to take control of your time! From new workflows to different boundaries, try these tips and tricks to improve your focus and increase your productivity.
The myth of multi-tasking has had a good run, but it’s time to let go of this outdated idea. Multi-tasking, where you try to work on several different projects at once, simply isn’t effective. Multi-taskers accomplish less and make more mistakes than people who work on one project at a time.
Take a look at your usual workday and see where you might be multitasking. Maybe you’re answering emails while on the phone, or are trying to proofread two different documents at the same time. Instead, start tackling each of these tasks separately. You might not think you have room in your schedule to handle them individually, but you’ll probably find that tasks take less time when you’re more focused.
Batch Your Days
Take single-tasking to the next level by batching your days. When you batch your work, you focus on all the similar parts of different projects, one at a time. For example, if you need to send updates on various projects, write and deliver all of these updates one after another.
When you batch work, you save resources because you’re performing similar jobs at the same time. There’s no need to load the same software multiple times a week, get into the right mindset every day, or track down supplies more than once. Batching is a great way to reduce the workload of your routine tasks.
Your workday is probably full of interruptions. Chat alerts, pop-up email notifications, ringing phones, coworkers popping by your desk, and countless other modern reminders pull you away from your current task, interrupting your workflow and breaking your focus.
Remove as many interruptions as you can from your environment. When you’re working on a project, aim to make yourself unavailable for anything else. If you can close your office door, log out of your email, and set yourself unreachable on chat, you’ll be able to focus on your most important work.
Your work culture might not allow you to go fully offline, but you can still try to reduce your interruptions. Turn off notifications on your personal accounts, block off time on your calendar, and ask drop-in colleagues to circle back at a better time.
Build In Breaks
Don’t push yourself past your breaking point. Regular breaks can help you stay more focused than trying to power through hours of work. Build breaks into your routine to keep your physical and mental abilities sharp.
You can experiment to find the style and frequency of breaks that work best for you. Whether you prefer short but frequent breaks or look forward to one longer change of pace a day, it’s important to take these breathers. You’ll discover new ideas and trains of thought come easier after a break. Your body will also feel better when you stay hydrated, eat meals at a decent hour, and walk around during the day.
Focus On Your Circle Of Control
No matter how talented or high-ranking you are, you can’t control everything. You’ll be able to focus better and stress less when you spend your energy where it’s effective.
From other people’s mistakes, to international trade wars, to the weather, it’s easy to fixate on what could go wrong with a project. But when you focus on events you can’t control, you’re wasting your efforts. Instead, spend your time and energy working within your circle of control. Your focus will be improved when you’re thinking about realistic, workable solutions.
Set Achievable Goals
Lofty goals are a vital part of your company’s growth, but it can be hard to know where to start with a big task. Break your goals into smaller steps and sub-goals to help them feel more approachable. You’ll have an easier time making plans, taking action, and focusing on your work when you’re reaching for a small, realistic goal each day.
Prioritize One Task A Day
No matter how careful you are with your time and energy, there will be days when it’s hard to focus. Last-minute directives from your boss, an unfavorable news cycle, and other emergency situations can require all your energy without any warning. You can still keep making progress towards your long-term goals when you prioritize one task a day.
Every day, identify what’s most important to accomplish. If you could only do one thing that day, what task would be most impactful? Front-load this task and take care of it as soon as you can. Even if the rest of the day’s plans are ruined, you can better focus on the emergency situation when you know that your priority task is already taken care of.