Ahh focus, it’s the one thing you need while working to ensure that your mind rests only on what needs to be done and does so to the best of its ability.
Only, focus is so difficult to find, particularly in today’s world.
And that’s a problem.
Why is focus so hard to find?
We live in a noisy world. Notifications, colleagues, flash news updates and social media are just some of the distractions that fill our lives.
This makes focusing on the task in hand—whatever that might be—incredibly difficult at times. As a result, the time we spend working is often inefficiently used.
You know that feeling when you finish for the day, look back and wonder what on earth you achieved? Yup, that’s because you struggled to find focus.
Thankfully, there are lots of simple things you can do to find all of the focus you need.
Here are ten of our favourite focus-finding tips.
1. Find the right music – or sounds
For some people, music is the perfect soundtrack for getting lots of work done. For others, it’s actually a distraction; background noise is far more pleasing to the ear.
This means finding the right music or sound for your period of focus is essential. For you, it might be jazz, ambient or rock, while for others, the gentle hum of a desk fan or recording of a rainforest will do the trick.
Whatever it is, find it and keep it.
2. Re-think the way you use your phone
As big of a distraction as it can be, we’re not going to suggest ditching your smartphone; far from it.
The key to ensuring it doesn’t continually get in the way of your productivity is to re-think the way you use your phone.
Turn off all but the most essential of notifications and set yourself governed times for when you’re allowed to use it while working. Use it as a treat, but set a strict length of time for how long you can flick through your apps, messages and social media.
3. Get on top of your emails
Achieving inbox zero is something you’ll need to work on if you want to get super-focused at work.
This is the process of whittling down your inbox so there is nothing left for you to deal with regularly.
It isn’t easy, but it can be achieved with persistence and a promise to yourself that you’ll only work on emails two or three times a day. In that sense, you can almost treat it like regular mail.
4. Be invisible when you need to be
Chances are, you’re probably on WhatsApp and a few other instant messaging systems.
The good news is that most of these platforms can be set so that you ‘appear away’ or are in some way unreachable.
Set yourself to those statuses (or temporarily mute notifications) when you need to get into a deep, focused mindset for work. If anyone needs you urgently, they’ll ring you.
5. Be honest with others
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get down to work with as few distractions as possible. That’s why when you decide you need maximum focus, you have every right to tell people to leave you alone for a bit.
You don’t have to be rude about it or sound as though you don’t care either, it’s a case of letting people know that you really need to focus on work for a short period of time.
The good news for them? Once you’re done, they’ll have your full attention.
6. Prioritise your tasks
A lack of focus at work often stems from the fact that people don’t know which task to hit first. As a result, their minds wander and several tasks are inevitably started at once.
It’s impossible to focus in these scenarios, which is why it’s so important to prioritise the work you need to do.
Set them in order of importance, even if that means the trickiest job you’ve been putting off for ages is at the top. Because you know what? Once you get into that focused mindset, even the toughest of tasks will seem relatively straightforward.
7. Eat healthily and take exercise breaks
You’re not superhuman, your body needs fuel and exercise if you’re to maintain a healthy approach to work for long periods of time.
Rather than reaching for crisps, sweets or chocolate, keep some healthy snacks nearby. They’ll fuel your brain and keep you feeling energetic, whereas naughty snacks are more likely to slow you down and make you feel lethargic.
Make sure you take some regular exercise too. It might be a fifteen-minute dog walk or hour-long run around the block, but whatever it is, you’ll find it’ll refuel your brain and keep your productivity levels at their maximum.
8. Use a distraction-free device
To get really focused, the device you’re working on needs to be as distraction-free as possible.
Thankfully, most modern operating systems make this relatively easy to achieve. For instance, if you’re using a tablet like an iPad, the apps probably run in full-screen mode, thus removing all unnecessary clutter from the screen.
If you’re using a desktop or laptop computer, make sure they offer the ability to run apps in full screen, too.
Oh, and turn off all notifications on the device too.
9. Work in an organised, tidy space
If your desk is a complete mess, you’ll struggle to get into a focused way of working. This is because your mind will wander as it catches sight of the discarded post-it notes, old reports and mail you should have filed or binned long ago.
Tidy your desk so that only the thing you’re currently working on is in view – if it needs to be.
Declutter your office regularly: this is the best way to ensure you can slip straight into a focused mindset whenever you need to.
10. Enjoy what you’re doing
Fun can be found in everything you do for work. This is vitally important because you’re asking a lot of your body and mind when you want it to be focused on one thing for a long stretch of time.
Enjoy what you’re doing. Even if it seems laborious, make each small achievement that happens every step of the way something to be relished.
Allow creativity and imagination to come into play when convenient, too. If you can stray beyond the borders to make something more interesting and fun, do it.
And remember – if you really can’t find any fun at all in what you do, it might be time to look elsewhere.
Remember, you live in a world that is surrounded by distractions. However, use our tips above and you’ll find that focus arrives far more quickly than you’d expect and right when you need it.