Tips on How to Focus

We’ve all been there: You’re trying to do everything, and you’re not getting anything done.

If you want to avoid doing this, then you have to focus. But just deciding that you’re going to focus isn’t enough. How though?

In the last few months, while running Supshot, I’ve come into one problem often. I’ll have so much to do that I sit there doing nothing. What’s worse is that sitting there doing nothing ends up causing me more anxiety, because I’m wasting precious time that could be used to get some of those tasks done. The thing I would always ask myself is: Where do I start, though? I’ve learned a few tips along the way that have really helped me. I’m not perfect at it by any means, but that’s just because there is no end goal other than being better than the “me” of yesterday. Here they are.

1. Multi-task less.

This is a cardinal rule that I break all the time, but there is science to prove that multi-tasking is inefficient. Though everyone thinks it’s a great way to get a bunch of things done more quickly, when you’re multi-tasking you’re not putting all of your focus into any one task, which is hurting your concentration. What you need to do is pick one thing at a time, and you’ll see that you get things done faster. If you’re working at home, avoid trying to do chores while doing your work. Maybe the laundry gets done, but you’re slowing yourself down.

2. Know what matters.

Having an honest understanding of what you need to get done, and how long it’s going to take you is extremely important. Ideally, you should be attacking the things on your to do list that cause you the most anxiety to think about, because those are likely the most important.

3. Unplug.

This is a hard thing for many of us to do because every device we own is vying for our attention each minute, but when you sit down to do something, nothing else should get your attention. Just because someone decides to text, call, or email you doesn’t mean it can’t wait! The problem with just trying to ignore it is that if you know it’s there, you’ll be tempted, and that alone is taking away focus. We’re all weak, so avoid the temptation, and just turn things off while you’re working.

4. Give yourself extra time for each task.

This is probably the easiest thing you can do to help your schedule, even though it’s what you avoid doing most. The reality is that things will always take you longer to do than you think they will. If an important task you have to do is blocked out for 45 minutes on your schedule, then give yourself 75 minutes — and actually write it into your calendar. If on the off chance you really do get it done early, then what you have is free time, and no one in their right mind should complain about that.

5. Take breaks and reward yourself.

Most mortals, such as myself and the general population, can only intensely focus for an hour at most at a time. That’s why you should take a few minutes every hour to clear your head. Usually I just do some calisthenics (push-ups, sit-ups, dips) and then go for a short walk while listening to some music. For me, it’s great way to refocus and get some exercise in the process. You decide what works for you though.

It’s a great feeling when you get way more done than you planned to, but most people have trouble replicating those days. They just sort of happen, and we’re left wondering what we did right. Also, there are not many things that feel worse than a completely unproductive day where you also had no fun. So use the tips above to get started on doing more, and doing it faster, so you can spend the rest of your day doing whatever you want. That is the point of all this, isn’t it? So go enjoy having nothing to do after finishing what you need to!

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