We recognize the importance of staying focused when we realize we CANNOT focus. Sometimes our minds drift off while talking to a friend and suddenly realize that we have no idea about what they were saying. Good thing about friends, they won’t give a serious warning about firing you as a friend but the same thing can’t be said about our professional lives. Staying focused is vital while doing anything important, professional or otherwise. Let’s check out a few psychological and physical techniques to stay focused.
Tips: Improving Your Focus
The very first stepping stone is your “span” of focus. Otherwise known as “focus stamina”, it’s your psychological “physical” capacity to handle staying focused. We can increase our stamina by choosing and performing a task, any task, for a set period of time without sidestepping. You could start at 30 minutes and then increase the period by 5 or 10 minutes after each 3 or 4 days. Do NOT take breaks (not even a minute). Try avoiding doing things that you really enjoy because we don’t need to focus much while we’re performing tasks that we like. Also, there’s no need to push beyond an hour.
Reading makes our mind sharp if not sharper. Reading, regardless of the content, forces us to focus on the topic and consequently increases our general ability to focus. Reading for 30 to 60 minutes a day is a great mental exercise. But if you’re not much of a reader, avoid reading complicated contents otherwise you’ll end up working more than focusing and understand. Once done, go over what you read in your head.
Do NOT put away things for tomorrow. Procrastination is one of the biggest agents for developing psychological fatigues because every day you realize you have one extra thing to do. Avoid procrastinating as much as you can.
We’re often told to do multiple things at once and we often praise those who do that. It’s one of those bad things that appear good. Our ability to focus is limited so common sense tells us that if we divide it into multiple tasks at once, each task will receive less focus. Sure, it’s not much of a problem when the task itself doesn’t require much focusing into but continual multitasking lowers our overall focusing capacity in other words, focus stamina.
Take a break. Although it does sound a bit contradictory to the exercising techniques mentioned earlier but while actually doing lengthy and complicated things, our brain tends to overexert itself. Taking a break for 5 or 10 minutes after each hour kind of restarts our focusing capacity instead of breaking it.
Distractions kill you focus swiftly even when we think “a minute wouldn’t hurt”. However, you need to be able to differ between breaks and distractions. If a break is still taking its toll on your focus then it’s a distraction. Remember, checking your social networks is NOT a break even though it does seem like “entertaining”. Don’t keep too many tabs open or start chatting with friends. Don’t even being to check this and that on a video game that you’ve been playing. While they are parts of your social life, they’re more like distraction while performing a task.
Remember your motivation, why you’re doing what you’re doing. Goals often excite us while the ways seem not-so-exciting. It’s often helpful to remember that ultimate objective when you start losing focus.
Keep yourself and your workspace organized. Make a checklist of what you need to do and check each one out once done. Immediate feedback is the best gift that we can give ourselves and there’s hardly anything better than feeling appreciated.
Remember, focusing itself shouldn’t become another work so back away whenever you start feeling like that and start something more appropriate. As a side-note, don’t take in too much caffeine. It doesn’t actually help you to focus but simply excites your nerves. And the more you take, the more you need.