The ability to focus, and for longer periods of time is what gives anyone the power to achieve their desired goals. Focus is an essential element that actually helps you to get things done in a comparatively lesser time frame.
But the problems arises when we unintentionally lose the ability to focus, even for the things that we know holds value.
“I need to get this done, but I just can’t focus”
Most of us don’t have the problem in differentiating between What needs to be done and what doesn’t. We already know what’s what. We do in-fact have a problem with “Choosing”.
We are in constant conflict about what we should be doing as of this moment. Should I work on that pending work or scroll Instagram for a while?
The more you think about it, the greater the chances that you’ll fall for the easy, convenient, and relaxing alternative.
And on the other hand, when you have something urgent, a project submission, an important meeting maybe, what happens then? You get to it right away.
Why? Because the deadline has already made the decision for you.
The problem is when there is no immediate deadline to trigger that panic. How would you operate in such situations? How can you divert that focus on jobs that needs your attention?
Below are a few ways to improve your focus that might just work right away
Organize Your Work Area
The general state of your working environment often influences your productivity and focus retention.
Some prefer their working area to be a little messy while others opt for an organized, sorted desk. I am neither against nor an advocate for either of those personal choices.
I am good with whatever works for you!
But most often than not, we tend to work in the same exact area of the house or the office. And that becomes monotonous after a while.
Because of this, we get easily distracted by even the smallest of elements (a thought or even an app notification).
Organising the place where you intend to work often raises a sense of productivity.
If you’re the one that falls into the “I always keep my stuff organized” category, switch things up a little, try a new (stable) angle to place your notebook, declutter your laptop home screen, put that fake plant on the other side of the table, etc.
Dive Right In (5-Second Rule)
I have witnessed first hand the consequences of not starting the work right away. The more time it takes me to start, the more difficult it becomes to redirect myself from other distractions.
“Let me finish this Netflix episode, then I’ll start”, the brain says.
But it never ends on that episode, it goes on for a few more episodes until you’ve completely wasted 4-5 hours, and now you’re tired, tired from binge-watching.
And once I am distracted, its all muscle memory from thereon. We go through similar patterns of distraction most of the time.
You take one glance at the to-do list, you get bored, you open Instagram.
And this behavior gets embedded so deep into our subconscious, that once we are faced with a similar situation once again, we choose a non-productive, yet easy alternative, again and again.
The most effective way to cope with this issue is by jumping into the hard part without putting any thought into it. It’ll help you get started and once you’re in the flow of work, jobs get done. Simple.
In one of the previous articles, I’ve explained how important is it to start the work without thinking anything. The more we analyze, the harder it gets to get our minds right.
Don’t fall into analysis-paralysis, dive right into the assignment within the first 5 seconds, or your brain will try to talk you out of it.
When the task that needs to be finished is far from interesting and is thoroughly tedious, your mind tries to divert you to less difficult tasks that usually don’t need your attention as of now.
“I need to finish this essay by tomorrow, but right now I don’t feel like writing so I am going to organize my closet first.”
This way, the brain manages to NOT feel guilty about not doing the important stuff and gives itself credit for doing at least something instead of doing nothing.
But why does our brain do so?
Because the brain likes it easy. It will choose the less difficult task if given the opportunity to choose. So in such cases, the only thing you can do is not to give yourself the opportunity to choose.
You set your mind to one specific task at a time, no matter the level of difficulty, finish it before touching anything else.
Avoid the non-essential chore.
Needless to say that maintaining focus can be difficult in such a short-attention-span world. But somehow you have to develop that laser-sharp focus as it has the potential to shape your tomorrow.
So, the next time you get distracted think of your time as currency, wherever you’re put your time will eventually grow/expand, the rest will just fade away.
Focus is what makes the decision whether you’re spending your (limited) time for your own profit or somebody else’s.
Because believe it or not, spending hours on Instagram or Netflix is only making others profitable, you’re just wasting valuable time in that process.
From now, just make sure to focus on the things that matter and soon it’ll be you on the more profitable side.
Save it, so you won’t lose it!