In today’s overflow of media and the latest information, it can be easy to get distracted and even overwhelmed on a daily basis. Productivity is key to achieving the resolutions you set (what feels like oh, so long ago,) but how can you maintain the focus and energy needed every day to achieve them? It may often seem like there’s too much to do in a day, which can leave you so focused on getting everything you need to be done that you forget about your future goals and resolutions.
In this article, we’ll share everything we’ve compiled about how to focus so you can get what you need to done in what’s left of this year.
Start with Your Brain
It’s easy to assume that distraction is just a natural state of mind for people and that it won’t change. The first step to clearing your mind and increasing productivity, however, is accepting that you can change the way you think. Focus can work just like any other muscle: the more you work on building it, the stronger it can become. While there are many different exercises, alterations in the environment, and little life changes you can make, we’ll start with the basics of clearing your mind before setting yourself to a task.
Simply taking a moment to clear your head can greatly increase your focus. You don’t have to dedicate yourself to yoga or meditation to achieve this: try practicing deep breathing for a few minutes where you focus only on the rhythm of your breath. Actively clearing your mind and calming your body in this way can help you keep your head focused on the task ahead.
When it seems like there’s no time at all to clear your head for a moment, stress and distraction may actually become stronger. Try to slip in a little bit of time between tasks to refocus your mind and keep your head clear so you can work quickly and effectively.
Step Away for a Minute
We remain firmly attached to the amazing devices that keep us updated on our friends, family, and the latest trends we like to follow. Even at work where email is a necessary function for getting work done, it’s easy to distract ourselves with the next immediate thing demanding our attention instead of the most important thing we need to keep our focus on. Unplugging from phones, email and IM’s for thirty or so minutes can quiet all the less important noise keeping you from finishing what you need to be doing. Try to arrange a time where you can distance yourself from email and other distractions so you can devote yourself fully to completing the task at hand.
Coffee breaks can also help you return to work with more focus. Caffeine, while not being a particular agent for memory or learning proficiency, can still stimulate cognition and help boost your brain into being productive. When you feel yourself sagging in the middle of the afternoon, it may help to take a coffee break to revitalize yourself.
Simply stepping away at all can also be productive. Sitting or standing for long periods of time can be hard on your body, so taking a small break to move around can help stimulate your brain and keep your body alert. The small break can also help you retain focus for longer tasks: focus and retention can decay when you focus for a long period of time, so the simple act of stepping away for a minute or two can help you rebuild focus.
Making the Environment Work for You
Music has long been a favorite for improving a working environment, but how do you make it productive and not distracting? The key lies in non-vocal music that mentally uplifts you. There’s no one type of music for everyone, but cultivating a playlist you can run while you work is a great start. The music you enjoy will help drown out other distractions around you and make your brain associate the sound with deeper focus.
Temperature can also play a factor; if you’re shivering or sweating at work, it’s very easy to become distracted. One study from Cornell University found that participants did their best and fastest work in an environment that was around 68 to 77 degrees. If you find that the office is hurting your focus on account of the temperature, it may help to bring a sweater, blanket, space heater, or other solution that will keep your mind focused.
Learn How to Focus in Your Situation
At the end of the day, there’s no one answer for how to focus and achieve your goals. Your ability to focus is something you build over time, so don’t be discouraged by small setbacks as you practice. If you dedicate yourself to focusing your mind every day through mental breaks and breathing exercises while minimizing distractions immediately around you, you’re off to a great start to attain your 2020 goals — it’s not too late!