In a world with what seems like a million forms for distraction, it can be hard to buckle down and stay focused on what really matters. How do you stay tuned into your priorities with constant emails, text messages, social media notifications and other “urgent” matters vying for your attention? Here are a few quick tips for keeping your focus and energy in a distracting world.
Turn off Your Notifications
Communication is a major part of getting work done for most people. However, there are occasions when you need to power down and cut communication off. When you’re needing to stayed focused on a particular project or task, turn off your notifications for a time so that you can give your undivided attention to what you’re working on. This will allow you to get a lot more done in a shorter period of time. When you get side tracked by other matters, it can take you up to 15 minutes to get back into the zone. If this is happening repeatedly throughout your focus time, your task could take up to an hour longer than it should. Save that hour and respond to messages when you’re done.
Use Your Calendar
Your calendar is a very powerful tool. Many use it solely for documenting major events throughout the year, however it’s quite useful in your weekly or daily planning. I personally, use my calendar to block out every hour of my day so that I can stay intentional about my time. You don’t need to block out every hour, but it’s beneficial to block out time to work on special projects. If someone attempts to set an appointment with you, you are able to avoid double booking time slots that you’re needing to set aside to focus time. Block out your time and stick to it. Treat each time block as if it were an important meeting. No one has to know what your “appointment” is, they just need to know that you can’t meet them at that time.
Find a Quiet, Comfortable Place to Work
Your office is obviously there for a reason and you should be there most of the time. However, sometimes you just need to get out of the normal workplace environment and get some alone time. Sure, you can close the door to your office, but when your team knows you’re there, it’s more likely that you’ll be interrupted. When you really need to, find a comfortable and isolated place that will give you some peace and quiet.
Drink a Cup of Coffee
In a moderate amount, caffeine can be an effective tool for boosting your focus. Of course, we know that it gives you an energy boost, but there are properties in caffeine that can actually help your cognitive function by boosting your brains ability to send and receive messages within the nervous system.
Use a Timer
In conjunction with your calendar, use a timer to help you stick to your time block plan. The brain can only stay truly focused for about 90 minutes at a time. Within your time block, plan a few 10-15 minutes breaks. It will give you something to look forward to and it will help you achieve a mental refresh for your next focus period. It may sound tedious, but once you’ve tried it a few times, you’ll discover that it’s not that complicated and it will really give you an edge in productivity.
Avoid Junk Food
Choosing the right diet to power your day is more important that most people realize. The body is extremely resilient and can run on a bad diet for a long time and, when you’re young, it’s quite easy to run your body on a poor diet and never see the negative effects. However, your ability to do this will fade over time. Do a little research to understand more about how your body works so that you can make good long term decisions. You will undoubtedly see the short term effects of a healthy diet as well. When you’re needing optimal focus time, avoid sugar and other high-glycemic foods. Though they can give you a quick energy boost, that boost fades quickly. A high sugar diet can also cause inflammation in the body and lead to a whole slew of other health issues. Lower glycemic vegetable and quality proteins and fats will power you with a cleaner and longer lasting energy.