Focus requires control. Control of distractions, thoughts and, most importantly, your time.
Consider the following tips to improve your focus and concentration in your workday:
Tune out distractions
Identify your biggest distractions and plan to minimise or eliminate them while you are working on a task. This may include closing your emails, hiding your phone and putting it on silent or even telling your co-workers not to disturb you during certain times during the day unless it is urgent. If you work in a noisy environment, consider using noise-cancelling headphones and listening to relaxing music while you work away.
Mindfulness involves bringing your attention to the present moment. Practising mindfulness can help improve your focus as it makes the wandering mind focus on the now rather than past or future events. Mindfulness is shown to be a powerful tool in improving attention, cognition, emotions and behaviour – all elements required for greater focus and concentration.
Give tasks your undivided attention by setting a timer for each individual task. Aim to work on the task for the duration of the time interval with no distractions. The key is to minimise interruptions to your “flow” state of productivity. Working on one task at a time is ideal for optimal efficiency as multi-tasking can see you lose time and concentration as you switch back and forth between tasks.
Work with your natural energy levels
An easy way to sharpen your focus is to schedule tasks around your natural energy levels. If you find you are more alert in the morning then schedule tasks that require higher levels of attention or creativity. You may choose to spend the afternoon working on low-attention tasks when your energy levels are dampened. It is much easier to concentrate when your body is naturally feeling alert rather than having to rely on multiple coffees or sugary foods to see you through the day.
Structure your time effectively
Effective time management is critical if you’re looking to improve your focus. If you don’t prioritise your workday and set clear goals, it can be hard to stay on track. Keep a to-do list, highlight the most important tasks and be sure to schedule in breaks (and take them).