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7 Tips To Manage Attention and Avoid Overwhelm

7 Tips To Manage Attention and Avoid Overwhelm

Have you ever felt so burdened by all the things you have to do that you can’t even figure out how to start? If so, check out the following seven tips to manage attention and avoid overwhelm.

1. Eliminate Distractions

Have you ever noticed that it takes you almost as long to begin an assignment or chore as it does to actually complete it? Since it takes some time to find the drive to begin, distractions could destroy your productivity in a hurry. The simple act of beginning to work already takes some time, so it’s important to avoid distractions that would cause you to have to re-start over and over again. Silence your phone unless you’re expecting a monumentally important phone call. Close every browser window except the ones that are necessary for the task at hand. If you work in an office and are working on something important with an impending deadline, kindly ask your co-workers to refrain from interrupting you for an hour or two except in case of emergency.

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2. Get Up and Move

When your eyes start to glaze over, you need to take a break. Forcing yourself to continue working without a break despite the fact that your concentration is dead and gone is not efficient. Would you rather keep working at a snail’s pace or walk away for a moment so you can return with revived focus and vigor? Go outside for a quick walk and a hit of energy from the sun’s rays. Kick off your heels and do a few squats and push-ups on a wall or counter to get your blood flowing. You could even skip back and forth joyfully if no one’s watching. At best, you’ll feel an immense burst of positive energy, and at worst, you’ll feel silly and laugh at yourself, both of which will provide you with a much-needed break from the daily grind.

3. Prioritize

If you have an innumerable to-do list of things that are going to eat up your entire work day, it’s easy to become so overwhelmed that you don’t know how to start. Write down everything you need to do in a big list and rate each item on a scale of 1-5 in order of importance. Knock out the most difficult or important tasks first so your largest sources of stress will be gone as soon as possible.

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4. Chunk It Up

Are you working on a huge project like a full-length book, elaborate website design, or new business venture? Tackling a monster of a project without a clear list of action steps could stress you out before you start, so break it down into tiny steps. While you might feel a heavy burden initially, you will feel that weight lift off your shoulders with each check mark you make, developing positive encouragement that will keep you motivated to continue.

5. Turn on Some Tunes

According to a study at the University of Miami, listening to music at work could increase creativity and efficiency. Dr. Teresa Leisuk, the researcher behind this study, suggests that music is beneficial because it puts the listener in a positive frame of mind that is more receptive to new ideas.

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6. Know Thyself

Do you feel like there is a certain time of day when your brain is in top-notch condition and you can accomplish anything? Is there another time of day when you just can’t seem to concentrate no matter how hard you try? Be aware of what time you are at your best and plan accordingly. For example, if you have a tough time focusing in the morning, you might want to start your day with mindless tasks like answering emails, doing paperwork, shredding documents, and organizing files. Save activities that require the highest concentration for the time of day when you are at your best.

7. Start Your Day Strong

At the beginning of every day, ask yourself, “What are the three most important things that I must accomplish today?” Trust your gut instinct and write it down. Don’t make a longer list because if you do, you might conveniently “run out of time” before you get around to your biggest priorities. It’s funny how if you focus on the important things, the rest tends to take care of itself.

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How do you stay uber productive at work?

If you have any additional tips that would help our readers manage attention and avoid overwhelm, please drop them in the comments!

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Daniel Wallen

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives.

Learn from these highly successful people’s personal development skills, turn these skills into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter

2. Keep certain days clear

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

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7. Don’t try to do too much

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew.

Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else.

This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then.

Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

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Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

If you find yourself easily distracted and can’t focus, this method will help you overcome distractions.

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14. Never stop

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it.

Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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