No matter what kind of lifestyle you lead, chances are that you could do with a little fine-tuning in the productivity area, including how to be more focused. We all do – it doesn’t matter if you’re a high-flying economist, a writer working at home, or a working parent who has to juggle childcare and work.
So, here are twelve top tips on how to focus more efficiently, remain focused on the daily to-do list, and get through those tasks much quicker while still ensuring great quality.
1. Get an early start
Getting up an hour or so earlier than normal may seem like cruel torture. But push yourself to buy more time – particularly time in the morning when everyone else is sleeping – to go and knock things off the to-do list more quickly, without other people around to distract you or get in your way. Plus, you can get some of your private to-do list items (morning yoga routines, applying skincare products, dancing like a thing possessed in your kitchen to your iPod) out of the way without anyone being any the wiser.
2. Have a solid breakfast
You should always have a great breakfast to set you up for the day, but health benefits aside (you’re generally healthier and more likely to lose weight when you eat breakfast in the morning), it also ensures that you’re running on plenty of fuel and working at your tip-top best to plow through whatever the day may hold. Nothing too heavy, but filling – many suggest scrambled eggs on toast, museli, porridge, or fruit for a perfect breakfast.
3. Get your ‘hardest’ task done first
Go and hit the hardest task first whenever possible. Not only will it get the biggest hurdle or obstacle out of your path, it’ll give you such a positive rush that focusing on tackling those smaller tasks will seem like child’s play, and you should crush them with ease.
4. Factor in time for procrastination
It’s hard to focus all the time and to try and make sure that every minute of every day is entirely focused and full of productivity is impossible. Chances are you’re going to procrastinate at some point – we all love a great article, a fantastic new song, or a singing cat video, after all. Just factor in the fact that you’re going to procrastinate and you’ll be much more realistic about accomplishing your goals.
5. Go outside for a break
Take time to go and stretch your legs, breathe in all that fresh air. If it’s summer, you’ve got a great excuse to go and soak up the sun; if the weather isn’t great, pack up an umbrella and go for a brisk walk. It’ll provide your mind with a mental break and chance to recuperate and hit the rest of those tasks stronger and harder.
6. Make a proper list
I personally cannot go through a big day without making a big list of everything I need to accomplish or do – it might be a mental trigger, but I always work stronger, better and faster when I have a pre-written list of everything I need to.
It means that I can maintain a visual dialogue of where my day has gone, what needs to happen in the meantime and what actions I can take. It doesn’t have to be huge, but it does have to be portable. A notebook or a list-making program on your phone can work just fine.
7. Avoid multitasking
Multitasking is one of those buzzwords that gets thrown around so often it seems as though if you can’t write an article, answer a phone call, do yoga stretches, balance your online checkbook and think of what to make for dinner at the same time, you’re desperately lagging behind everyone else.
In fact, our brains are only supposed to handle one thing at a time so that we pour all our resources into it, rather than being spread too thinly. Focus on one thing at a time and you’ll get through it much quicker and move onto the next thing, rather than trying to juggle four things at a time.
8. Treat yourself
There’s never too little time in a schedule to treat yourself, even for a few moments, and not only is it beneficial to your mental health, it also makes it much more likely for you to appreciate the treat and associate the positive feeling with getting a good job done, making it more likely for you to do it again in the future.
9. Add a bit of exercise to your daily routine
Your body is meant to be active, so exercise is a vital part of making sure your body is at peak fitness for running around and completing everything that needs doing. I’m not talking about trying to fit a three-mile run into your schedule, but some stretches, a twenty-minute yoga program or even a walk around your neighborhood can help a lot.
10. Plan out as much as you can
I personally believe in planning the heck out of as much as I can – one trick is to break big tasks down into smaller and smaller actions so that accomplishing each one feels like a little victory. Make sure you can plan out and look ahead as much as you can – check the weather, the timetables, and check everything is prepared. That way whatever the day may bring, at least you should be able to handle it.
11. Get plenty of sleep
If you know you’ve got a big day ahead, it’s no bad thing to make sure that instead of doing what we’re all guilty of doing and burning the midnight oil, you go and get an extra hour or so in bed. Sleep recharges our bodies full of energy and to try and survive without it is a bit like expecting a car to run on petrol fumes. Treat your body right and get plenty of sleep.
12. Know your limitations
Know your limitations if you want to be focused. If you know you’re someone who procrastinates a lot, then don’t give yourself an Olympus to climb each day. There’s a difference between being realistic and shooting for the stars in terms of productivity, so choosing to recognize the likelihood of you achieving how much you plan to do in a day is an advantage.
Set yourself obtainable, attainable goals, and not only will you have a much higher chance of getting everything done, you will know how to be more focused on a daily basis.