We all want to be productive in our lives. We have goals and dreams we want to achieve. In order to get there, we have to take action.
When you want to climb a mountain you have to prepare physically and mentally, gather the appropriate supplies, plan your path to the peak. You arrive at the starting point and then you have to start hiking up the mountain. You don’t look at the peak from the valley below and become distracted by the butterflies floating around your head.
To reach your goals you must focus on the tasks at hand, not get distracted by the butterflies – social media, internet, Candy Crush, etc. The ability to focus on your tasks is paramount to your success. Commenting on Facebook on your 2nd cousin’s dinner from last weekend isn’t going to get you any closer to your goals.
One effective method to completing tasks is the Pomodoro method. It is a simple plan which may help you increase your productivity and accomplish your tasks quicker. How does it work?
Commit to 25 minutes of uninterrupted work on your task. Set a timer and get to work. When you have a distracting thought about other projects or tasks, write it down to do later. At the completion of your 25 minute work session, take a short 5-10 minute break. Take a short walk, stretch, get a drink of water. During your break time, don’t think about your task. Give your brain a rest. Then set the timer again, and get back to work. After you have completed this cycle four times, take a longer break to let your brain recharge.
Try this method. You will discover that you will start checking off items on your task list at a much faster rate.
More strategies to further improve your focus and productivity:
Take care of your physical health:
Trade your caffeine for cardio. Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain that affect our learning and memory, which in the end are what help us focus.
Drink more water. Mild dehydration can lead to distraction. Being even as little as 2 percent dehydrated can affect your ability to concentrate on cognitive activities.
Get plenty of shut-eye. Getting at least seven hours of good quality sleep each night helps your body and mind rejuvenate and leads to better concentration and focus during the day.
Supplements can help you when you are having focus issues. Vitamins like the B complex group, Biotin or vitamin H and lecithin are reported to help improve your memory.
Consult with your physician if you find you can’t focus on any one thing for any length of time. Lack of focus can be a symptom of several different conditions, including depression. Get a thorough checkup to rule out any physical causes of your lack of focus issues.
Track your time:
One of the first tips given to dieters is to keep a food journal of every bite. When you have to record every bite, you learn quickly the choices that are sabotaging your weight loss. Keeping track of how you use your time yields similar results. Use a time tracker app like Toggl to track your time. Make sure to track meal times, social media and leisure time as well as time spent on projects. Track everything faithfully. You will learn how much time you actually spend on Facebook or Twitter. Analyze the results weekly. You may be surprised at the results or see obvious time wasters. Just like dieters who don’t want to record chocolate cake for breakfast, you may start choosing more productive activities instead of time wasters.
Plan your week:
Once a week, when it feels most natural for you, plan out your week’s goals and tasks. What tasks do you need to complete this week to reach your goals? Write down key projects and the tasks associated with them. Don’t forget to add in family activities that you participate in as well.
Prioritize your list:
Break down your tasks from most important to least important. Use a calendar to mark out blocks of uninterrupted time (anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes) to work on each one.
Eliminate nonessential tasks:
Utilize online virtual assistance outsourcing for business tasks you need to do but which aren’t your strengths. (Learn about OUTSOURCING here.) For tasks at home, hire someone to mow your lawn or clean the house to free up valuable time and energy.
Limit Email and Social Media time:
Set aside a specific amount of time each day for checking/answering email and checking social media.
Make a distraction list and set aside time to tackle it:
When you are tempted to check out social media, add it to your list. When ideas or questions about projects your aren’t currently working on pop into your head, jot it down. Your will know you won’t forget anything because you recorded it and you can focus on the task at hand.
Learn to say NO.
We are all asked to add tasks to our day, by our co-workers, friends, family, volunteer work, etc. Be prepared to evaluate the request to determine if you need to accept. If not, say no. Set boundaries for your work and time.
Create an environment that works for you.
What environment works best for you? A quiet space? Ambient noise? Soothing music? Colors that evoke energy or calm? Non cluttered workspace? Comfortable chair or balance ball? Set up your office so it works for you.
Improving your productivity through improved focus is worth the effort you make on learning new strategies and methods. Experiment and find what works best for your concentration.