We can all multi-task… So we all do – badly – often at the expense of the important things we need to get done. The phone can do so much, the internet can tell you almost anything and there isn’t a question out there that doesn’t have an answer (or at least an opinion). The world we live in allows us to indulge in every single pointless thought that comes into our heads, creating a heap of ‘stop-started’ tasks and half finished jobs.
Many say that the one thing that separates the successful from the rest of the world is focus, so with that in mind… Below you’ll find five proven techniques to achieving great focus:
1. Write a list
Mental lists have a short life span. They also have a tendency to grow longer and longer as you add unnecessary tasks to the pile. You need a written list to maintain perspective, to prioritise and to remember – but keep it short. A long, endless list can feel daunting and may even invoke apathy.
Embrace the brief pursuit of short term goals. Write three or four items at most, don’t get carried away, see them through, pat yourself on the back and move on…
2. Focus on Less
Computers are amazing multi-taskers. We are not. Having ten different windows open on your desktop at the same time allows your focus to drift. This happens because you’ve created options, you’ve dangled subliminal carrots for your mind to seize when your attention pauses from the task in hand.
Focus doesn’t just require a strong mentality, it needs a lack of options.
Lock yourself away if you can, stick your phone on silent, plug in some head phones. The key is to focus on less…
We’ve come along way from the post-it note, but the principle remain’s the same: every once in a while you need to give yourself a kick. Fortunately there are many ways to do this – calendar entries, mobile apps, delayed emails, alarm clocks. Take your pick. Be creative, some reminders are more subtle, like setting your desktop background to visually stimulate you.
4. Set Mini-Deadlines
This might sound a bit regimented but stay with me… Ever heard of the ‘Pomodoro Technique’? It’s by far the most effective way I’ve found to achieving great focus.
The concept is simple, you set a timer for twenty five minutes, assign a job to that time and then start the clock. You’ll be amazed what this does to you!
What’s important about this technique is that you reward yourself after each task. Mini victories help to stimulate a positive mindset towards work. When time is up give yourself some free time to relax (five or ten minutes) before resetting the clock…
5. Relaxed Discipline
Achieving tasks should feel good. Hitting targets should feel great. Remember: Mini victories.
You need to stay on track but don’t be too critical should you fail, this leads to stress and frustration which will block your creativity. Trust yourself. As long as you’re moving forwards, you’re making progress.
Take a break, make some tea, change your scenery for a moment and when you’re ready take a deep breath and return to the task in hand.
I hope you found this helpful. If you’ve enjoyed this post, please follow my blog.
David P. Philip