We all struggle with it. It’s an invaluable skill in this world where distractions are plentiful! But you’re in luck, because we’ll be sharing how these 9 things that can help you focus better.
1. Turn off your notifications:
“Oh! Another notification – gotta check that.” No… please stop. No more letting the rest of the world control you and how you spend your day. No more reacting to the world. If you’re serious about focusing on something important to you, you need to cut the excuses and turn off your notifications. I know I may seem a little direct, but this is what I’ve had to tell myself in the past to successfully finish projects that matter to me.
2. Close unnecessary tabs:
Close all those 10 other tabs you have open. “But I’ll need them later…”. No, there’s a bookmark feature on your browser for a reason. BUT, if you REALLY think you need to leave them open, then group those extra tabs and label them whatever category that they fall in (for example, label one group “Break” for funny videos you want to watch more of later). To do this in Chrome, simply right click on a tab and select “Add Tab to Group” > “New Group” and name the group. Repeat this for all of the tabs you ‘simply must keep open’. I’m the queen of distractions and I can tell you that this will be an absolute game-changer.
3. Find a quiet space:
This could be a cafe where you know you won’t bump into anyone that you know or a co-working space if you have access to one in your area. You could even go down to your local park if there’s a bench and table and use that as your quiet workspace. If this simply isn’t possible, then put on some headphones or earphones and listen to some instrumental music that is calming and can help you focus better such as Lofi, relaxing piano music etc.
Here’s an example of a YouTube playlist that always keeps me focused:
4. Establish a routine through “Time Blocking”:
“Time blocking” is a time management technique that involves scheduling specific blocks of time for different tasks or activities throughout your day.
Decide on time blocks for specific activities, whether that be for work, side hustles, exercise or breaks.
This will help you:
- Focus on your work: Time blocking encourages you to dedicate specific periods to one task or activity, minimizing multitasking and distractions.
- Prioritize: By allocating time blocks to various tasks, you can prioritize what needs to be done. This helps you tackle important and urgent tasks while reducing the risk of neglecting critical responsibilities.
- Plan Efficiently: Time blocking allows you to visualize your day and allocate time for both work-related tasks and personal activities. You’ll be able to avoid burnout from work and make time for your family, friends, pets and hobbies.
5. Use the Pomodoro technique:
Photo by Cheryl Sakurai
This technique involves working for 25 minutes and taking a short break before repeating the process. Knowing you’ll be able to take another break in just 25 minutes is a huge motivator. My favorite timer is “Tomato-timers” – it’s simple, easy and 100% free!
6. Meditate for just 5 to 10 minutes:
Spending even just 5 to 10 minutes doing meditation a day will do wonders. You’ll become more aware of your own thoughts and emotions and you’ll have discoveries like “wait.. I don’t really even need to be doing that task.. I can just ask (name) to help me with it.”
You’ll spend less time putting out fires and more time on what truly matters. If you have difficulty settling your thoughts on your own, I recommend using a meditation app, like Relax Meditation to guide you. This post isn’t sponsored at all, but I’m a huge fan of the app and all that it’s helped me to achieve so I felt to share it with you all. The best part The easier the activity, the more likely you are to start and continue it long-term. I go into more depth about the amazing capabilities of this app (like being able to make your own original meditation soundtracks using some really creative sounds) in my article 5 Things I Can No Longer Live Without.
7. Move your body:
Let’s face it. We all have FREE access to YouTube and public spaces (like the footpath outside our houses) so we have no excuse not to move. If you’re not a fan of leaving your house because you would prefer to stay in your PJs, we highly recommend looking up a short movement video and doing it on the regular. If you’re not used to moving regularly, starting with even just a 5-minute stretching or yoga video could be a great way to ease yourself into a routine. We humans absolutely hate change, especially big changes, so it’s always best to put minimum stress on your body by starting off with short sessions and slowly increasing their duration.
The key is to do a little something everyday, ideally at the same time of the day to make your body get so used to it that it even begins to crave it. In my case, I hate pain.. I struggle with anything too intense, especially if I’m not interested. I simply do just 5 minutes of yoga or basic stretching every morning. I tell myself that’s all I need to do. No 45-minute workouts, no sweating, no discomfort. This makes it easy for me to follow through and do it each morning.
I know they say “no pain no gain” but honestly I don’t think that’s true. That’s only applicable if you would like to build muscle. Stretching or doing yoga doesn’t require any pain to gain a mountain of physical and mental benefits. Give it a try and I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you gain!
8. Get early morning light:
Starting your day with natural light can help synchronize your circadian rhythm and increase your ability to focus. Not to mention it’ll help you wake up without coffee. Yes. It is possible. Going out for a short 5 to 10-minute walk in the morning before breakfast will help you take in natural light and wake up your body. But if you’re really not a morning person and the thought of having to get changed and walk outside is too much for you, then simply relax in front of a window where you can catch some sunlight.
9. Break tasks into smaller chunks:
Breaking larger tasks into smaller, manageable chunks can help make them less overwhelming and easier to focus on. For example, if you want to start looking for a job, you could allocate just three tasks to yourself each day for two days like the example below:
Day 1: Preparation and Research
- Identify Your Skills and Preferences (30 min)
- Research Industries and Job Roles (30 min)
- Update Your Resume/CV (30 min)
Day 2: Application and Networking
- Search for Jobs Online (30 min)
- Customize and Submit Applications (45 min)
- Connect with Professionals on LinkedIn (15 minutes)
What would’ve felt like a monstrous task now turns into bite-sized-pieces that you can actually tackle a little at a time without feeling overwhelmed.
Making small, consistent changes to daily habits can help you focus better and improve your overall well-being. It’s these 1% changes in our lives that truly add up. And best of all, most of them are completely free!
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