Focus & the Art of getting to Work

You have a project to do. The day is ticking away and you can’t seem to get focused. Your phone is ringing and your computer keeps playing the same song on Spotify. Your focus is slowly draining and your work is not getting done.

The difficulty of getting started and staying focused is something we have to deal with. Whether it is at work or in the studio motivation is a difficult resource to muster when you just can’t seem to get going.

So what can be done? Motivation is something that we all have to deal with and it often feels like it comes and goes quicker than we would like. In this short article I want to talk about some of the things that I do on a regular basis to get my mojo flowing.

Steps to get focused:

Turn off your cell phone:

Sometimes this is difficult. So if you can’t bring yourself to turn off your phone download a lock app. I personally use Clear Focus and for a timed phone lock and Clear Lock when I need to really lock things down. Both are tech solutions to the distraction of your phone.

Take off your headphones:

There is a strong understanding that music, although it can help obtain a level of controlled focus, does have a detrimental effect on your productivity when working on new mentally challenging tasks[1]. According to a study conducted by Professor Dr Nick Perham, a lecturer in psychology at Uwic’s Cardiff School of Health Sciences listening to music while studying has an adverse effect on your short term memory. However, if you are doing a highly repetitive act, or working with pure recall, then music can help reduce stress and nervousness.

Multitasking is not the answer:

Multitasking will be the end of quality work. When you sit down to focus on one thing, do just that one thing. This does not mean you will not or should not have multiple projects running in parallel. But when you are in the act of focused work, you should be focused on completing just that single task.

Get up and move:

Sitting for long periods of time is not only incredible hard on your body, but also stymies our ability to think[2]. If you are having trouble focusing get up and move. Do some push up, go for a 15 minute walk, or just jog in place. It is important to give your body and mind a break. You will still be sorting the information you were exploring even when you think you’re not. A short walk around the block may give your mind time to process some new piece of information.


Final thoughts:

These are four things that I try to do at all times when I am working, but each of us is a little different. We all respond to stimulation differently. You may find the soft sounds of the café a soothing addition to studying, some need absolute silence. A study playlist may help you focus. What is most important is to establish habits. Repetition and the act of doing will be your best friend.

If you are finding yourself getting stuck and need some inspiration take a listen to some of the amazing apps, sites, and audiobooks to get you back to work.


Focus Resources:

A few tech Solutions to more focused day:

Noisli

This super simple white noise generator has a good selection of sounds that you can listen to while getting some work done. Not only is it free, but if you really like the website you can pay a small fee to take it on the road with their equally wonderful app.

Clear Lock

A simple app to lock down your phone at set times of the day.

Clear Focus

Need to set 15 minutes of distraction free work time. This app will allow you to do just that.

A little inspiration:

Power of Habit

This is a great book to learn about, well, the power of habits. Through a series of wonderful stories and neurosciences research The Power of Habit helps to define why habit has an immeasurable impact on our lives, even if we didn’t realize it.

Link to Book

Link to Book

Big Magic

Written by the same author as Eat Pray Love this window into her own process of creating and the power of the creative pursuit is an uplifting book that bends narrative, personal experience, and the creative process into a single piece of literature.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

This is not a self-help book. It will not tell you about yourself or reveal the secret to a better life, but what it will do is give you an insight into how we live, who we are, and maybe why we do things. This is one of my favorite novels that is an amazing piece of literature if you want to learn about the power of focus and the need for wondering.

Link to Book


[1] (Spin EDU, 2013)

[2] (Clark, 2014)

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