For some, staying focused is easy and second-nature. But for the rest of us, focus elludes us on a daily basis. In today’s culture, everything demands our urgent attention; Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, text messages, and phone calls. But it doesn’t need that way. We do have the ability to hone in on a task. We have the ability to put off all distractions at will. It’s just easier for some than others. However, I have found 5 ways that are extremely useful in helping me keep focused. I hope it helps you too.
Posture: Correct posture is extremely important to focus. Incorrect posture leads you to feel tired, sore, and strained. Sit straight so that your back is straight and not slouched over. It may possibly mean a period of discomfort as you adjust to your new posture. It may also mean that you may need to get a chair that offers more back support. Also, you will also want to position yourself in such a manner that there isn’t too much glare from the computer screens. The glare causes your eyes to feel strained.
Organization/Lack of Clutter: I find that I do my best work in a clean and clutter-free environment. There are some people whose desks look like it has just been hit by a tornado, and yet are still able to find everything they need, as well as keeping zen-like focus. But it seems like that is the exception and not the rule. When my workspace is disorganized and cluttered, I feel overwhelmed and chaotic, and consequently can’t concentrate (as well). But when my workspace is organized, I feel at ease, which in turn helps me focus on my task at hand. In addition to helping me focus, working in a clutter-free workspace helps me find everything I am looking for, and thus saves me time so that I am able to focus more time on my immediate task(s). I found the best way to keep organized is to clean up after your day is over. Place everything back to where it belongs and clean up any mess that you’ve made. So an easy couple of minutes at the end of each day can save you the hassle of having to use up hours to clean up your workspace when it gets “too messy.”
Take all distractions away: Whether you are at home or in the office, when you want to focus, you must remove everything that can distract you away from your task at hand. That means the tv has to be off, Facebook closed, and and the phone needs to be on silent. Everyone has their vice but for me, the phone is the one thing that throws my concentration out of wack. I always feel the need to respond to a text that asks what I’m doing or the phone call from the girlfriend. So now when I absolutely need to concentrate, I leave my phone on silent and tell anyone that will probably disrupt me that I will need a certain amount of time uninterrupted. I will only call back immediately if there is a voicemail left. Otherwise, all calls can wait until I’m done with my task at hand. Another big distraction for me is the noise level at work. I work in a pretty fun environment and it gets pretty rowdy sometimes. So when I need to buckle down at work, I turn on my iTouch and listen to my favorite jams with noise cancelling headphones. It drowns out all noise and distractions. So whatever your distraction is, figure out a way to rid yourself of it. Trust me, there is a way for every distraction.
Getting a good night’s sleep: Sleep is a big factor for your concentration. You are able to concentrate a lot longer and focus better with a good night’s sleep. It is VERY hard to concentrate when you feel groggy and tired. Sleep experts recommend 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night. I keep my sleep to 6 hours on the weekdays. But it really just depends on the person. I know a lot of people that drag through the day with 6 hours of sleep. If you can’t last on 6 hours of sleep, then try 7. Or 8. The important point is to feel alert and alive.
Review your tasks beforehand: You should allow some time before you get down to work to sort out all the things you want to get done on that day. Adopting Stephen Covey’s Quadrant II formula, you should definitely concentrate on the most important task(s) first, and not necessarily the most urgent. Once you are done with your important task(s) of the day, you can move on to other, more menial tasks. It is also important that you clearly determine the amount of time allotted for each task. Going over a little bit is okay, but having a quantitative goal keeps you on track. Once you have that quantitative goal, attempt to keep to it as best as you can.
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