How I Improved My Focus and Became More Productive at Work and in Life
Distractions have become a worldwide pandemic. Every second we are pulled in all directions by our phone, email, and other distractions making it nearly impossible to focus on the task at hand.
The way to combat this is to develop your ability to focus, but that is easier said than done.
A study by researchers at Harvard Medical School showed that a typical worker's ability to focus declines after lunch and continues to deteriorate as the afternoon wears on — with workers taking about half as long to complete their work in the evening as they do in the morning.
I have witnessed firsthand how distractions put a damper on my productivity, but still, my mind wanders and consequently loses focus on what I am doing.
The ability to focus refers to concentrating on a particular task or topic for an extended time.
Focusing for extended periods has enabled me to work more efficiently and accurately. As a bonus, it has reduced stress and overwhelming feelings of not being good enough.
Focus is one of the keys to success. Concentrating on one task is essential for effective decision-making and productivity.
Efficient focus helps me become a more productive and a better leader. Improving my focus has been one of the best investments I have ever made in myself, which has paid off in the long run x10.
If you're not happy with your current ability to focus, there are some simple things you can do to improve. Rather than waiting or hoping to find focus, you can proactively choose to develop it.
In this article, I want to share some simple changes that have improved my focus at work and in life.
I Don't Focus on Focus
I rarely focus on focusing. Instead, I focus on creating a distraction-free environment that allows me to focus. GAME- OVER!
If you want to focus, you must accept that 98% is the environment, 1% is behavior, and 1 % is willpower.
I disconnect from the internet, turning off notifications on my devices.
I write down my most important tasks every morning and the ones I will not engage in.
I proactively create a quiet place or signal to my colleagues that I am working.
I remove all physical clutter before I go home from the office every day, so I have a fresh start the next day.
I only have one window on my computer open at a time, not adding more to my mental clutter.
I have established an evening and morning routine that is non-negotiable.
I say no a lot and don't get caught up trying to be a people pleaser. The only focus is me.
I always start by saying:
I HAVE TO CHECK FIRST. LET ME GET BACK TO YOU.
In order words, I am not superhuman. Therefore, I control my environment and don't get distracted from doing what's important by the urgent.
I Check My Current Level Of Focus And Track My Progress
It is easy to drown or numb our focus with the number of distractions at my disposal.
When I first started improving my ability to focus, I was horrified by the number of distractions I had created for myself.
So I started by identifying my current work habits.
I noticed was that I didn't track my progress.
I had no clue that my capacity to focus was so low, so I started tracking my time and energy.
I Increased My Focus Gradually
The problem for most people, myself included, is that we tend to set unrealistic goals and therefore have a hard time improving our focus.
It's nearly impossible to improve what I don't measure, so I got into the habit of setting a timer. When I found myself distracted from the task at hand, I checked the timer to see how much time had passed.
That gave me a baseline of how long I could concentrate on a task before losing focus and something to improve.
I started with 3 min focus, and today I can focus for 75–90 minutes at a time.
Gradually my concentration started to improve, making it easier for me to concentrate, preventing fatigue and feelings of frustration.
Leaving me more rested and than I had ever felt after working for a whole day.
Focus is the first step to success, and it is a skill that I can develop through environment design, training, dedication, self-discipline, and structured practice sessions.
Why is focus mostly environment, a skill, and a habit and not an inherent trait?
Because we are constantly bombarded with stimuli from our environment, and it takes practice to tune out distractions. And while some people may find it easier than others, everyone can improve their concentration level.
Understanding what takes up my time is one step in becoming more focused, and it's part of the process.
Finally, If you're feeling like you have problems focusing on the essential things, it can be helpful to look at what your day looks like. Do you create time for everything that needs to get done? Or does your schedule leave no room for the things that will make a real difference in your life and work? If so, it may be time to rethink how you approach each day by practicing better time management.
My ability to focus is not something I was born with, and it is something I have cultivated.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope this was helpful.
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