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8 Ways To Maintain Your Focus While Working

8 Ways To Maintain Your Focus While Working

Productivity and focus are two different things, although they are certainly connected in some regards. There are several important factors when it comes to being productive, and focus is one of them. It can be tough to find focus when you are dealing with constant forms of distraction — both internal and external. However, having a point of concentration does not necessarily mean you are productive.

Productivity is a big picture thing. To be able grasp the whole concept, you must keep your eye on the details. Focus is one of the major things that affects the quality and effectiveness of work. It’s the thing that keeps you from becoming overwhelmed by every specific of the task at hand. Here are some suggestions to help you achieve optimal productivity and focus:

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1. Have a good night’s sleep

Most people who work, if not all, have experienced the pain of early-morning hours with very little rest. This can make performing well a tough thing to do as your energy is easily drained. It is essential to monitor your sleeping routine. By sticking to a proper sleeping schedule you will reduce stress, improve your memory, and aid your productivity.

2. Eat right, stay healthy

Admit it, you just can’t give your full attention at work when your body feels off. This is especially true when you are hungry. The tendency is that you will look for something that keeps your stomach full and satisfied. Another case is when you have to continue working when you are feeling ill. Start planning your meals everyday and make use of multivitamins to maintain a good health and avoid these common problems.

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3. Prioritize your tasks

You can’t always focus on what’s important because you might not be entirely sure of what the priority is. So, it’s best to prioritize tasks based on your target. Perhaps your target for the week is to create a report regarding a recommendation at work. First, create a checklist of what needs to be done, then classify and arrange tasks according to level of priority. There are several techniques you can use when prioritizing tasks. If you feel comfortable working with checklists, this example may work well for you.

4. Establish a deadline

The problem some people have is that they are living entirely in the now. While this is important at times, it can mean that your focus on the future can suffer. Time is one of our most precious resources, and we all know that it can feel scarce. This is why we have to take care of it by spending it wisely and appropriately. Let’s say you are asked to accomplish a task by next week. Don’t wait until the last minute. Set your sights on achieving it early— not just on time. Setting your own deadlines will heighten your productivity and lower your stress.

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5. Take short breaks

If you get stuck on something, try taking a short break to refocus. This might be a 30-minute nap, organizing documents, cleaning your desk, or taking a moment to stretch. Long days at work can be exhausting. Perhaps all you need to do is to give yourself a chance to turn down the pressure so you can get back on track.

6. Avoid distractions

Sometimes, it can feel as though distractions are waiting behind every corner. Gossiping is a common scenario in the office. Who can say no to a chance to escape work for a few moments and engage in some office gossip? It’s important to remind yourself that there’s a time and a place for that. Other workplace distractions are phone calls, social media, and noise. Take measures to remove the distractions that you can, and try to build habits that allow you to focus on the task at hand.

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7. Exercise regularly

Getting active can benefit not only the body but also the mind. It improves your mood and boosts your energy. As we all know, working people receive a lot of pressure from work. Creating your own exercise routine can be very important when it comes to stress reduction.

8. Create lists

Lists are powerful things. However, they can become overwhelming when not properly organized and prioritized. List categories usually include tasks, events, and notes to support your goals on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Make multiple lists that can be organized into different categories. This can help you become more effective when it comes to maintaining concentration.

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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