My work colleagues often compliment me for my laser focus during work hours.
Focus does not come easy. It took me a while to understand how I could make the best of my time without exhausting and stressing myself out. With so many distractions around us that tend to keep increasing with the hour, it’s imperative to find focus methods that works best for you.
Here are a few ways that I have been able to increase my focus:
1. Make a list of what you want to accomplish for the day
Not everyone is a “list” person, but making a note of things to finish for the day has been a game-changer for me. I start my work-day by making a list of tasks that I would like to complete and set priorities to each task.
One important point to note here is that, if you still have tasks left at the end of the day and cannot get to them without jeopardizing your health or time with your family, push it to the next day without feeling a tad bit guilty.
The list only gives you a picture of what tasks require your attention.
2. Put your phone away
I recently read somewhere that keeping your phone away from your eyesight decreases your urge to reach out and check it every 5 minutes.
Whenever I sit down to work, I put my phone away in a place where it’s not visible to me. I usually find a spot for it in one of the drawers or cover it with a piece of cloth. I do wear a watch that connects to my phone to make me aware of urgent calls or texts.
Something as simple as putting my phone away has increased my productivity by ten folds. I don’t have the constant urge to check it every 5 minutes.
3. Power focus
Power focus is similar to a power nap.
Whenever I have to get something done with no distractions, I allocate an hour to power focus.
To prepare for the hour, I get a refreshing drink, put my headphones on, play Binaural beats, make sure that I don’t have to go the restroom for the next hour, put my phone away and zone out.
During that 1 hour, I don’t get up from my desk; I don’t check/respond to emails, I don’t talk to my friends, I don’t even pick calls.
I sit down and focus. You will be surprised to see how much you can get done within just one hour.
In my opinion, a power focus hour should be followed by a 10–15 minute break so that you can let your mind relax after a powerful session.
4. If you don’t “feel” like doing something, don’t do it for sometime
There are times when I sit down for work and just don’t feel like working.
No matter how hard I try, I don’t get the motivation to do it.
That’s the perfect time to listen to your body and mind. Take a break, meditate, listen to some upbeat music, walk for 5–10 minutes, or step out of the zone and watch something entertaining or funny.
If you come back and still don’t feel like doing the work, it would probably be a good time to try the power focus method.
5. Eat the right food
I had a habit of eating out often. Every evening, I would order food online, switch on the television, and mindlessly eat whatever came from the restaurant.
Around six months back, I completely changed my eating habits.
I started making sure that I drank plenty of water, consumed fresh fruits and vegetables, and added lentils to my daily diet.
Eating good food helped me get rid of “brain fogginess.” It also helped me elevate my mood, which in turn increased my concentration and focus.
6. Sleep for a minimum of 6–8 hours
Before I met my partner, I used to sleep for 4–5 hours. My quality of sleep was notably terrible. I used to go to bed, thinking about the hundreds of tasks that I had to finish the next day.
My partner pushed me to increase my sleep duration to 8 hours. He insisted that I slept on time and got up only when my body was ready to get up.
Having been a light sleeper almost throughout my life, this was a massive lifestyle change.
Since I increased my sleep time, now my focus was to improve the quality of my sleep. I read through many articles and determined that the best way to get a night of quality sleep was to:
a) Eat at least 2–3 hours before bed
b) Drink enough water
c) Wind down to sleep i.e., stop all work-related activities at least 2–3 hours before bed
d) If possible, meditate just before going to sleep
Most days, I sleep like a log and get up fresh and ready to start my daily activities.
7. Do not overwork
Contrary to popular beliefs, you do not have to give up on physical and mental health to achieve any definition of real success.
In today’s work-culture, over-working is often seen as a badge of honor. It took me five years to realize that I was much more productive and “smarter” when I made sure that I wasn’t over-working myself to exhaustion.
The two mantras that have entirely changed my perspective are, “There is always going to be more work tomorrow” and “Work Smarter.” I try to remember this almost every day so that I can take better care of myself.
At the end of the day, each person has a different approach towards their life/work, and that’s what makes every individual special. The above methods have worked wonders for me, but it doesn’t have to be your way of doing things. I hope you find inspiration in taking a few tips from the above and make it your own unique process.