HOW to Effectively Improve Your Focus for Doing Tasks 


When you’re not used to doing it and don’t have good steps to follow, sitting down for a specific amount of time and focusing on one task can feel like one of the most challenging things to do.

Our minds are constantly being pulled towards multitasking and getting things done as quickly as possible. Tasks end up taking longer because your mind is never as productive when trying to balance two things at once or when it’s rushing to finish something as quickly as possible.

 

The importance of your workspace

The first step in improving your focus is to ensure your workspace is tidy. Whenever you try to work in an untidy workspace, your mind gets subconsciously distracted by the things around you. Whereas when your workspace is clear, your mind feels so much clearer which leads to improved concentration.

 

 Distractions

The second step is to turn your phone off and put it out of sight. Having your phone out of sight makes such a big difference. It’s much harder to justify opening a drawer and turning your phone on than just picking it up and looking at it. It suddenly seems like a lot of effort having to get up, go into your drawer and wait for it to turn on.

 Checking your phone is just a habitual reaction to boredom; you’re not engaged in the current activity, and therefore check your phone instead. But when you take that option away, it becomes much easier to remain focused. Putting your phone away in your draw is probably something you never usually do, so by doing this, it tells your brain that it’s time to focus and you’re serious about completing this period that you’ve set for getting work done.

 

Timing

The third step is to set a timer. The timer could be your watch, a clock in your room, a physical timer, a timer on your laptop, anything that’s not going to cause you to become distracted like your phone. The duration that you set on the timer could be anywhere between 1-2 hours.

Everyone has a different attention span, so some people might be better at working in 1-hour intervals, and some people might be better at working in 2-hour intervals or anywhere in between. Some people might work in blocks of 3 hours sometimes, but 2 hours is the upper limit of what you can optimally achieve in one block.

Sometimes you’ll be able to focus for longer than 2 hours, but this is because of excitement and motivation for a specific task. You can’t guarantee you’ll be able to work in blocks of 3 hours every day and produce your best work.

It’s best to set a block of 2 hours, and then if you’re feeling motivated to continue for longer, you should. However, you shouldn’t set your expectation for 3 hours because you might not reach that some days.

Some people might struggle to do even an hour of focused work. In this case, you could work in blocks of 25 minutes with a 5-minute break in between each block. This is known as the Pomodoro Technique. There’s plenty of apps on the computer that can set this schedule for you. Knowing that the intervals are only 25 minutes makes it much easier to commit. You could even take this down to 10 minutes or 5 minutes if you’re experiencing a lot of resistance to starting the task.

Once you’ve completed the first 25 minutes, it becomes so much easier to do the next 25 minutes because you’ve already completed one cycle. Starting is always the most challenging part. You know that you’ve done it once, so you know you can do it again, and you probably have some ideas and momentum flowing now.

When you set a timer, you know you have no time to procrastinate; the countdown motivates you to take action quicker. Setting a time also helps whenever you get stuck with something; you’re a lot quicker to find the solution than if you gave yourself all day to work something out.

Flow

Some people prefer using the Pomodoro method; some people prefer using a 2-hour block. It can depend on what type of work you’re doing, as some work takes a while for you to get into flow. Flow is a period of uninterrupted work where you’re fully immersed in the task so that it becomes effortless and you forget about everything going on around you.

When you get into flow, you start to enjoy the work because you’re not facing any resistance; it becomes easy to take action. You produce your best work during a flow state because your mind is free from distraction. You lose consciousness, so you’re not thinking about your issues or about things you need to do later; you’re entirely focused on the task at hand. This is also when you’re most efficient too.

If you’re a writer, then having to stop every 25 minutes might hinder you because it takes time to get into the rhythm of writing. Whereas if you’re doing something high intensity like looking over your revision notes, then increments of 25 minutes might be more suited.

 

Useful apps

If you’re working on a laptop, another recommendation is to use an app that temporarily blocks distracting websites. If you search for ‘apps that block distractions’ on Google, you can find all the best ones listed there. Most of the apps also come with a timer.

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