A powerful way to increase your productivity and get things done is to feed your focus. It’s really hard to focus especially in our present time, it’s noisy outside, you have a new social media notification every ten minutes, or you’re trying to complete a lot of tasks.
The major reason why you can’t focus is Multitasking. You have that phone message you want to reply to. At the same time you’ve to complete the task you’re working on. You’re busy thinking about that problem, or the party you’re going to.
Multitasking or switching from a task to another doesn’t get rid of the distraction you’re in, but it results in something called the cognitive switching penalty.
Josh Kaufman explained in his book THE PERSONAL MBA every time you multitask, you keep on switching attention, your brain spends time and energy thrashing, loading, and reloading contexts that’s why sometimes you multitask, and at the end of the day, you complete none.
How to improve focus in four ways
1. Adjust your mode and your environment
When your emotions change, it affects your thought, which may change your mood and behavior. Though some people can work or study in an environment they don’t like, but the majority are more likely to be distracted.
Working or studying when you are depressed or stressed will do more harm than not studying at all, so adjust your mode it may be by meditating, exercising or anything that can calm you down.
I listen to music because it calms my mind. There are many ways but always do what calms you down. Adjusting your environment isn’t hard, but if you are studying, clear your desk to not distract you.
According to researchers at Columbia University Medical Center: meditation reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. Meditation is well known to give a sense of peace, calm, and balance, but it can also improve focus and learning concentration.
Before starting any boring task or studying, consider meditating to get rid of all jumbled thoughts crowding your mind and causing stress.
3. Clarify your plan
Draw a clear image of what you are going to do, plan before executing because it will save you much time.
For example, I have a mid-term exam next week. My goal is to study 30 pages a day to ensure completing the syllabus. Before reading, I’ll make sure where I’m going to read (my environment) is good to not be distracted.
Exercise or meditate to clear my mind from unwanted thoughts. I may get bored while reading all these pages at once, so dividing the 30 pages into 2, then taking a break after completing the first 15 pages is a wise decision.
Clarify what you are going to do, make a plan for it, you will be focused on completing it.
4. Review and recognize what you’ve done
Knowing you are and what you have done can help prepare you for tomorrow.
Why can’t you focus?
1. Your phone notifications
In our time, we are surrounded by a lot of distractions, it’s hard to stay focused studying or doing something without hearing phone notifications.
My friend once told me that ‘every time he gets tired while studying he takes a break (which is 30 minutes), and most of the time he surfs through social media apps, he ends up spending 1 hour without realizing that.’
When reading or studying, make sure you stay away from your phone, but if you’re studying with your phone, turning off some social media app notifications can save you from a lot of distraction.
2. Too much stress
This applies to everyone, especially in this fast demanding world we are living in. We all have a sort of anxiety and worry, but stress is terrible for both your mind and focus.
It’s hard to eliminate the core cause of stress, but you can find ways to cope with it, whether it’s practicing Yoga, or meditating, or exercising.
Other ways help to cope with stress, some may work for you and others won’t. Identifying what helps to reduce your stress will do much better. When you reduce your stress, you can be able to focus better and get more done.
3. Working too hard
Many people’s ability to focus deteriorates because they work more than they can. Working too much is going to push your focus to deteriorate, making you less efficient in your workplace and other projects you’re working on.
Giving yourself a break and your brain a rest is good for both your mental and physical health, and it can help to improve your focus. A 10-15 minutes exercise before you start again can give you a mental and physical boost.
4. Not dealing with the problem
Not dealing with problems you have can decrease your focus. You will constantly think about it and how you need to address it but do nothing about it. The key to stopping this is to take a step toward solving it, even if the problem can’t be solved right away, just a step in working toward it can clear your mind of it.
Once you acknowledge the cause of lack of your focus, you will be able to focus. But it’s time to improve your focus.