Our minds are good at wandering and getting distracted. That’s probably part of our evolution – if we weren’t paying attention to the umpteen things happening around us, there would be a good chance we’re be on something else’s menu that night.
But there are times when we need to focus on just one thing. Even if it seems borderline impossible to do that – maybe when we’re working from home and there are even more distractions than there are at the office.
Get rid of distractions
- Cell phone – apps and messages
- Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Those are some of the common distractions but there are plenty of others.
You need to work out a way to get rid of the distractions without missing something important.
So you can’t just turn your phone off but you could change your do not disturb settings so that only important calls and texts get through, everything else just waits without distracting you.
With sites like Facebook, if you’re able to then just close the tab. If that seems like an impossibility or you keep opening it again, install a program that limits the time you can spend on social media.
Noise is a distraction but, as one of the biggest causes of lost focus, I’ve given it a section of its own.
It’s not always possible to wear headphones but, if you can, they’re the best way to restrict what you can hear.
Whilst you could play some chill-out music, I think the best option is to use a subliminal messages audio. You can choose the backing track you like best (there are quite a few to choose from) and then let the subliminal messages work their way into your subconscious mind, helping you to focus on the task at hand. I do this a lot and have a subliminal track playing while I’m writing this.
If it’s not appropriate to wear headphones while you’re working then another option is to play yourself a brainwave audio – this tunes your brain’s frequencies to the ones that help you stay totally focused. The audio I’ve recommended has two versions depending on how much time you’ve got before you need to focus – 15 minutes or a super-powerful 30 minute session. Either will leave you in a state of focus for several hours after you’ve listened to the session.
Start the hardest task first
Whilst it’s tempting to clear all the small tasks because, individually, they won’t take long, there’s a good chance that you won’t have time for the hard task – the one you need to focus on.
There’s an old story where someone was given a container to fill and a bunch of rocks, all of different sizes.
If they put the smallest rocks in first, there’s no room for the big rocks. But if they start with the largest rock first, the smaller rocks take up the space around it and the container is filled with nothing left over.
The same goes for your time.
The small tasks can be fitted in – a few minutes here, a few minutes there,
But you need to start with the largest (probably scariest) task first and concentrate on that task and that alone.
Check your work environment
You may not have much choice about this but you can still personalise the space you’re working in as well as making sure it’s clean and tidy.
If you’re working from home, set up boundaries and working times so that other people know not to disturb you while you’re trying to focus on work.
Clutter on your desk can be distracting and filing systems are a good idea. File naming systems are also worth using if you have the option. A file name that makes perfect sense now needs to make perfect sense in a few months time when you’re trying to find it again.
Celebrate when you’ve finished
Before you start on a task, decide how you’ll know when you’ve finished doing it.
With some tasks, that’s easy. With others it needs a bit of thought as they can go round in loops with feature creep adding to the list of things that need to happen.
So setting a finish line is important – it also helps you focus on reaching it.
And setting a reward (it could be small like allowing yourself to have a walk round or something larger) means you know that you’ll only award yourself that reward when you’ve been focusing on the task and getting it done for a set amount of time or progress.
Help could come in the form of a friend or work colleague who politely keeps you on track, monitoring your progress.
It could be some kind of app where you log what you’ve done – without getting distracted by other things on your phone of course.
Or it could be getting your brain into the right state to give you the highest possible chance of focusing on one thing and one thing only.
This brainwave audio does precisely that and will help you stay focused for hours after listening to it.