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When you have loads going on it can be tricky to get focused on the important stuff. In this blog post I’m going to share a quick few tips that I use to try and get my head out of the distractions and into the zone.

Focus is a muscle

Focus is a lot like a mental muscle.  The more you work on building it up, the stronger it gets. So if you are struggling to gain some focus, don’t feel disheartened if you find that it doesn’t improve overnight.  Its just about practicing new techniques and being disciplined with them. Ahh discipline, one of the hardest things to come by!

Why is improving focus so important? Well for me, being super focused gives me the ability to concentrate on something in my environment (obvs) but its critical for me to learn new things, achieve my goals and be the best in a variety of situations. I know that I’m not gonna get to where I want to be if I don’t practise disciplined focus.

The first step

The first step is knowing where your focus actually needs to be that day, and if you have read my previous blog post ‘The one productivity hack that can completely change your work day’ you will know I use the Eisenhower matrix to prioritise my workload. It’s an amazing starting point. However, I do see productivity and focus as two distinct things and there are just some days, even with the best intentions, that you can lose focus and concentration.

We’re all human at the end of the day!

Focus tips and tricks

While some of these may not be ground breaking, they are tried and tested ways that should hopefully, with a little practice, get you in the zone.

  1. Focus on one thing at a time.  Well, Duh! Goodbye multitasking. I know as women its been one of those tasks we’ve bragged about. The amount of things we can do at once.  However, in this situation, we need to lose it.  Use your attention to focus on one task at hand. Only one. This is so you can hone in on the detail of that one thing that truly matters. I’m not gonna lie, it’s reeeeeally difficult. So, check the next steps for how to make it easier.
  2. Eliminate distractions.  Go to answer a WhatsApp message and then suddenly find yourself absorbed into Instagram stories and wonder how the fuck you got there? Exactly, it’s these type of distractions that remove our concentration from the task at hand.  So firstly, close down the tabs on your browser. Then put your phone on silent and in another room. Give your self a set time of the day to look at emails, messages and social media and put your phone away when possible. Then you can work on the job with your full attention.
  3. Set up your workspace. Think about what you’ll need to work seamlessly. Cup of tea? Your glasses? A pen and paper? Laptop charger? Get it all found and set up around you so not so much getting up and down (apart from when you need to pee of course!)
  4. Set yourself rewards. I am such a sucker for checking my phone or getting lost on the internet instead of doing what I’m supposed to, so I set myself rewards. If I sit and do this job for an hour solid without checking my phone I can then have a ten minute instagram break. Works a treat and then you can spend your reward time fully enjoying it and not feeling guilty as you should be doing something else.
  5. Take short breaks throughout the day. Taking a short break during a long task can reenergise the mind. There are methods out there that suggest working in a series of short bursts, followed by short breaks is the best way to keep focused.  I don’t believe our bodies are designed to sit for 8 hours a day or our minds working on one thing for a long period of time. It will only result in cognitive boredom! Use those short breaks to keep busy, but to do something completely unrelated to the task.  You need to create the right distractions from the task so you come back to the task with a fresh mind.
  6. Set up the right mindset for the day. I recently downloaded the ‘5 min journal’ app and at the start of each day it asks you to list out how you can make the day great. For some reason, this writing down of how you want your day to go actually DOES work in helping you to then make your day go like that. If you know you want to get 3 important tasks done you might write something like ‘I get my work done easily and I’m super focused.’ Trust me, it works.
  7. Exercise. If you have been following me on my social media recently you will know that I have been upping my exercise game.  I am not talking about full on Arnold Schwarzenegger here, unless you want to of course! I’ve noticed that the more I have been exercising my overall focus, motivation and attention performance has improved.

An image of Sarah Akwisombe laying on the couch with headphones on working on her phone

It can be difficult to master the art of concentration.  Unfortunately we just haven’t evolved to cope with the massive number of distractions we might face, especially with the digital world forever changing. Hopefully, with these tips you can become the master of your monkey brain and improve your focus!

What tips and tricks do you have for improving your focus?  Let me know by leaving a comment below. Or come and join us in the facebook group and get involved in the chat.

S x