Regardless of how much you want to stay focused on a task and get ‘er done, do you find yourself thinking about everything else OTHER than that task?
Not only is life moving fast, there seems to be an infinite number of distractions getting in your way. Emails, texts, reminders…
Your boss, your spouse, your kids – everyone wants more out of you so the pressure is on! It’s no wonder it is difficult to stay focused. Use these tips to help you focus more.
Tips to Help You Stay Focused
1. Use Background Music
When you are in a place and situation where you can, play background music while you are working. Music causes your brain to release a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which can make you feel better. Listening to music can also increase your productivity, efficiency, and creativity.
While you can choose any style of music, studies have shown that classical music works best for concentration. But, the type of task you are working on may influence the type of music that helps you the most. So pick what works best for you and what you are doing!
However, if you do choose classical music to listen to, you may want to try our Synaptic Symphonies Classical Focus and Concentration program. There are silent subliminal messages playing under the music to help you stay focused!
2. Create a Distraction-Free Environment
If you find the internet to be irresistible, you may want to be someplace that it isn’t! That can be hard to do in the age of WiFi, however, so you can use tools that will assist you in limiting use. Tools like ContentBarrier and Qustodio allow you to set up time of day restrictions for each user, so you can restrict yourself as well as your kids!
Distractions like TV and video games can also be counterproductive. And of course there is your phone! Minimally, turn off notifications. If possible turn off your phone altogether while working on the task at hand.
Clutter is distracting and decreases productivity, so try to work in a cleared space.
3. Set Goals and Track Them
Setting goals and monitoring your progress gives you something concrete to strive for. This makes it much easier to focus because you know more clearly what it is you are trying to accomplish. Monitoring your progress is crucial for this to be effective.
The key to successful goal setting is to set the right kind of goals. You can use the SMARTER goal setting process to help with that.
S - Specific (what, who, where, why, when) – don’t be vague.
M - Measurable – how will you know when you are halfway there? Complete?
A - Agreed – have consensus from interested parties – your boss, family, customers…
R - Realistic – is it achievable?
T - Time-Bound – there must be a deadline, and (unless it is a short task) milestones along the way are even better.
E - Ethical – make sure you feel right and good about what you are trying to do.
R - Recorded – Write down your goal before you start, goals have a better chance of success if they are visible.
4. Resist Urge to Multitask
Most people hold the belief they are good multitaskers. Some kinds of tasks can lend themselves to multitasking because they take very little attention (think breathing or digesting a meal!). But, most tasks are not that way. Your brain cannot switch between tasks efficiently, so you actually LOSE time rather than saving it.
We are not designed to take on more than one task at a time and are too easily distracted. What ends up happening is we do a mediocre job at many tasks rather than doing a great job with a few.
5. Use a Daily To-Do List
Your manager usually lets you know what you need to get done at a high level. Maybe he or she tells you month-to-month what he or she expects of you. If you have a business or relationship partner, you may create your task list together.
How you decide to get those tasks done is up to you. If you set up a to-do list each day, you have a clear picture of what you need to complete for the day. It won’t always happen, and there will be interruptions not included on the list. But, a list will help you focus on the items you believe will help get you closer to completing the tasks expected.
We like the flexibility of the Panda daily planner. It doesn’t have preassigned dates, so you can use it for any day you like. That way you don’t have to waste pages when you are taking that well-earned vacation! There is a section for scheduled events, daily priorities, and tasks. You can even note inspirational things like what you are grateful for and excited about, and what your “Wins for the Day” are.
6. Delegate When Possible
If you know you have too much on your plate, try to identify which of them you can delegate to someone else. Sometimes you end up with too much to do because you find it difficult to say no! Try to set up realistic expectations with anyone asking you to do a task. Let people know when you have too much to do in the allotted time!
7. Be Accountable
If you have a manager or are part of running a business, this is probably already taken care of for you. He or she – or the collective management - will hold you accountable for getting your job done.
If you don’t have a manager, i.e., you are self-employed, it can be easy to get off task. Find something or someone who can help make sure you are getting what you need to get done.
8. Try Time Management Software
Time management software is great because it allows you to track what tasks you are performing on a minute-by-minute basis. Most software packages allow you to run a report to see where you are spending most of your time and what needs tweaking.
Click here for a list of some time management software options.
9. Don't Procrastinate
Now that you have your to do list and you have prioritized your tasks, how do you feel? Do you want to run screaming in the opposite direction, or go check your email again to see if anything important has shown up?
Putting off tasks that are unpleasant or difficult is something we all do. The trick is to find some motivational strategies that help you to push through that tendency. If you pick a couple of small tasks to get started with, you will feel a sense of accomplishment. That will give you momentum to keep going.
Check out our infographic for more suggestions on finding the best way to motivate yourself!
Use some or all of these tips to stay focused on your goals. You will find it easier and easier to check off your tasks and complete your goals. Here is an Action Plan to help you get started.
Your Action Plan to Stay Focused
- Download (and use!) a copy of the SMARTER Goals Template to help you set your goals up even better! https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/setting-smarter-goals-in-7-easy-steps.php
- Engage other people to help you with accountability. Find one or two partners with similar goals to yours. Set up meetings to make sure you are all doing the tasks required to complete your goals. Keep the number of partners to 3 or less to eliminate confusion.
Use a service like Pandora.com or Spotify.com to set up background music. The great aspect of using these services is you can specify what type of music you want to listen to. You also don’t need to set up a separate playlist.
Be aware that if you are in your workplace, some companies may not allow access to these services.
Try using our Synaptic Symphonies Classical Focus and Concentration Program for your background music OR try our new BrainSpeak Pathways Focus Program to help you focus with less effort.