100 Ways to Improve Your Focus and Achieve Your Goals More Effectively
1. Plan your day the night before: Before you sleep, spend 5 quick minutes to plan the next day. List all the things you want to get done, order them in priority and allocate a rough timing. This way, you can get right down to action when you wake up the next day.
2. Get the big rocks in: Big rocks are your most important tasks – the important but non-urgent tasks. When big rocks are in place, you can easily get the small rocks, gravel and sand into your schedule.
3. Hardest task first: Within your tasks, work on the hardest one when you wake up in the morning. With that out of the way, everything else becomes a breeze. There is also added mental stress when you put the most difficult tasks off until later. The mental weight of the difficult task hovering in the back of your mind will deflate your energy and slow you down. One author called this "eating the frog". Whatever your "frog" is in your day. . . eat it first and the rest of the day will taste much better!
4.Single-task: If you are doing something which requires a high level of concentration and thought, try breaking it down into steps and do them one at a time. Don't try to multi-task and get nothing done in the process. Multi-tasking is a myth. Psychologists have proven that multi-tasking is simply giving shallow bursts of attention to many things in sequence. Each task will suffer from less focus and you will most likely make more mistakes and need to repeat some tasks or re-do them altogether.
5. Ditch the unimportant. If the work is a nice-to-do task and isn't a need-to-do task, consider removing it altogether. Why waste your time doing something that's not important? Not wasting time on the unimportant is a great way to create time for the important. Also, when you do the important stuff first, and find out that the unimportant things were not necessary, you have more time and energy left for more personal things that are important to you.
6. Use the Focus5 App Tasks to: (1) Capture all tasks that are streaming in but put them off unless they are both urgent and important. This way, you can concentrate on your task at hand rather than be distracted by other incoming things. (2) It gives you immediate clarity on all the things you need to do and pace yourself accordingly (3) You don't run the risk of forgetting anything you need to do. Using check boxes in your Focus5 task list gives you the satisfaction of ticking against the item when you are done with it.
7. Evaluate your completed task list periodically. Make sure that you are staying focused on the 20% priority work. Don't let the 80% unimportant creep in.
8. Reward yourself. An incentive will perk things up. Tie whatever you do with a nice reward at the end. Besides the sweet feeling of completion, now you have something else to motivate yourself to work faster.
9. Leverage productivity periods. All of us have times when we are more productive. For me, its early morning. Identify these times and schedule the toughest work to be done then. Plan the tasks that require lesser focus during your least productive times.
10. Effective vs. Efficient: Be effective first, then be efficient. Effectiveness refers to doing the tasks that matter. Efficient means delivering higher output in lesser time. There's no point in being efficient doing the non-value added tasks. Learn to Master your time.
11. Quit procrastinating: Procrastinating is a huge waster. Think of all the things you could have accomplished if you never procrastinate from this point forward! Move the work you don't like to do to the front of your schedule and reward yourself with something you enjoy to stay motivated.
12. Track your progress using Focus5. You can see what you are getting done and if it is the priority work. Continue to hone your technique of staying focused. Using the reports and looking at your weekly, daily and monthly behavior patterns will help you figure out where your strengths and weaknesses are creeping in so you can change behavior patterns and improve.
13. Start every week with a plan. Spend 15 minutes planning out your entire set of priorities for the week. It will save you time every day and help you quickly decide what is unimportant.
14. Get a head start: Wake up early – Start off your day ahead of others. When doing your tasks, start 5 or 10 minutes earlier than the time you specify. Because you are ahead of your plan, you will feel especially good about it and be motivated to run fast to keep your lead.
15. Clear your mind. The higher your mental clarity, the more you can focus on your task and the more you will get done. Sometimes clearing your mind the night before by doing a "brain dump" in a notebook with pen and paper will help you rest much better and will help your mind be clear. A clear mind will be much better at solving problems and creative functions when it is not using energy to remember tasks or ideas that can be written on a piece of paper or stored in the Focus5 app.
16. Be organized. Organization is a learned skill. Anyone can learn to be more organized. Having everything in an organized fashion makes it easier to do your work. Have a good filing system for your documents (both the soft copy and hard copy) so you can retrieve whatever you want easily. If you can't organize every day, find a time every few days or each week to organize. Depending on your work cycle and the type of work you do, there will be an optimal time and rhythm each week that will work best for you. Experiment with different organizational times and frequencies to find what works best for you.
17. Delegate. If the work is something that needs to be done but (1) can be better done by someone else (2) isn't part of your scope of work or (3) isn't the best use of your time, delegate it out to the relevant people. Striving to get the maximum out of the time you have involves taking out items which aren't effective uses of your time, such as administrative work.
18. Outsource. Same as Delegate, except you pay someone to do it. You can easily hire someone from the developing countries to do work at a very low price. You can also get professional work done, such as design, photography, etc. at a reasonable price.
19. Eliminate your distractions / Eliminate time wasters. Distractions exist all around us – MSN, Facebook, Twitter, TV, Radio, your mobile, email, etc. Turn off notifications and schedule email. If you can eliminate 50% of your distractions and schedule time for those you still enjoy/need. You will be making great progress.
20. Master your skills. To get your work done well and fast, you need to first master your skills. Learn to become one of the most effective people at doing what you do. Make this a priority.
21. Experiment with Focus5 and create a process that works best for you. Make priority work the priority. Remember, deciding what not to do can be the most effective way of creating more time for the tasks that will contribute to your success.
If you don't have an account, you can start a free trial of Focus5 to help you get your life back and achieve more in less time.
22. Find enjoyment. Find the most enjoyable manner to get things done and you will get more work done than using any other method. For example, I learned to use an outline for writing and dictate it so that others could transcribe it for me. I eliminated the most unenjoyable part.
23. Jump in. Stop finding excuses and just do it. Within 5 minutes into a task, your momentum will start to flow. The easiest way to break a stagnant period or creativity block is to get started.
24. Get plenty of rest. A good sleep perks me up for whatever is next. Note that quality of sleep is the key, not quantity. Know your sleep needs as well. The amount and quality of sleep required is different for everyone. Our bodies naturally follow a circadian rhythm that coincides with the sunrise and sunset. Some studies have shown that quality of sleep deteriorates the later one goes to bed after midnight. Try to get to bed at least a few hours before midnight to experience better quality sleep, helping you with better energy and focus the next day.
25. Learn from the best. Identify the people who are the best in what you are trying to do. Learn from them, understand the best practices they adopt and model their behaviors. This cuts your learning curve by a big chunk. There is a saying, "leaders are readers". Some of the most successful and focused people are avid readers. Paying $16 for a book to learn what took an expert 30 years to master can increase the speed at which you grow and improve.
26. Research best practices. Learn from the best practices used at other places. Apply them to what you are doing now. Many best practices can be cross-applied to different places and often can be adapted to different functions.
27. Improvise. Set a target. Track your performance. If you fall short of your expectations, evaluate how you can improve next time. If you meet your target, see how you can perform even better next time. If you set your targets & goals, and write them down but you fall short, you are still far ahead of those people who don't set goals at all. You will have made more visible progress than if you had never set goals at all.
28. Read productivity materials. Good productivity books and blogs can help you discover new techniques and methods for getting your work done in a more efficient way. Take time each week to experiment with 2 or 3 new ideas. Test everything - keep what works.
29. Group similar tasks. Put the same tasks together to get synergy out of them. If you have several research tasks, grouping them together can help you save time looking for information. When you are in the zone, staying there makes sense. It is best to try to group these tasks at the beginning of each week during your 15-minute planning session, and then review them at the beginning of each day briefly to make the best use of your time.
30. Use the best tools. The tools you use are supposed to make you faster, not slower. Upgrade to the latest versions of software (Lotus Notes, Outlook, Photoshop, MS Office, etc). Use a computer with an optimal processor speed. Make sure your internet connection is not slowing you down. Whatever is slowing you down, figure it out and upgrade, replace, or fix it.
31. Use the priority feature of Focus5 to move your most important tasks to the top of your list. Re-prioritize as you add and complete tasks. Prioritizing your tasks each week and each day will help you get the important things done and have more energy and time left over for other things in life.
32. Learn to say No. If you want to get things done, this means standing up for yourself and saying no to other things. . . things you don't want to do, things which are unimportant, and things which are unrelated. Saying no means saying no to people. It may be hard at first, but you will never make progress in what you want to do if you keep saying yes all the time. This may be more challenging for phlegmatic / supportive personalities, or people who have "people pleasing" issues, but as you learn to exercise appropriate boundaries by saying "no" to some things that are not required of you, you will have more time to invest in things that are more important to you. Your self-confidence will also improve a bit as you exercise your right to put up boundaries and focus your time and energy on more important things.
33. Create a conducive environment. Your work environment plays an important role in your attitude toward your work. Make sure you are working in a personal space that motivates you. When my office is neat and organized, so is my approach to my other work.
34. Improve your posture. Your posture affects your productivity too. Get into a good posture and your attention span and productivity on your work will increase too. Use a stand up desk to change positions from time to time. You can also purchase a posture chair or get a raised desk that fits over a treadmill. Many people who have to work at a computer several hours a day use this time to gently walk and exercise on a treadmill or pedal on a recumbent exercise bike. Figure out what works best for you.
35. Eliminate limiting thoughts. Worrying about some hypothetical scenario that has not occurred yet? Thinking negative thoughts? Feeling negative feelings? Stop living in your bubble and get rid of these thoughts that are holding you back. If you can't overcome this yourself, get an accountability partner or coach. You can also listen to uplifting tapes or music, as long as it is not distracting. Some people are more productive when listening to instrumental or classical music. Some people find it distracting. Experiment to discover which atmosphere works best for you.
36. Cut down on commuting time. Commuting time is one thing that eats up much of peoples time. Cut down on your commute by taking shorter routes, taking a cab, hitching a ride in someones car, working from home, using a car pool, etc.
37. Create a time box. Set aside a fixed time slot to work on your tasks. You must work on that task and only that task during that time slot, no more, no less. (Hence the term, time box, since the task is boxed within the time). Most people set aside a time to work on a task and continue working on it till they are done, even if it means exceeding the time. Because of that, they develop the mentality that its okay not to finish a task within the allotted time slot since there's time later to do it. This decreases their productivity. With time boxing, the non-negotiable cut-off timing makes you more productive.
38. Set a target. A target or a goal gives you something to work toward. Better still, make it a challenge that is still achievable at the same time.
39. Set a deadline. Put a deadline to the goal you set. A deadline creates a greater sense of urgency and will increase your speed and bias towards action. Also, be flexible with your deadlines. Be sure to write them down or use a productivity app like the Focus5 app that helps you do all of this in 1 convenient app while taking control of your life. If you are an "old-school" person and you have a smart phone but won't convert your written lists to a digital list, give it a try. You might just find it far more convenient and you won't have to track down your paper lists. You can also sync your important tasks to your calendar so that you have some redundancy, helping you to be more aware of your daily goals so that you achieve more of them.
40. Manage your email. Don't let your email manage you. Email is supposed to help you become more efficient. Learn to handle email just once and when you schedule it. Don't let email control your life and schedule. Find the best times to work through your emails. It is best not to do this first in the day, unless your work depends on responding to emails first in the day. It is best to follow your priority tasks first, and then schedule limited time for email management. Even while managing your emails, be sure to focus on the important ones first. It is easy to get into emails and begin sorting, deleting, and going off track to some un-important social media message or other distracting news that will only waste your valuable time. You can also use filters in your email program to funnel certain emails into less important folders and bring the most important emails to the forefront.
If you haven't tried the Focus5 productivity app, you can get a free trial to help you get your life back and achieve more in less time.
41. Plan your tasks. A blueprint is needed to build a building. Similarly, a good plan facilitates your work by quantum leaps. Time spent planning will decrease your work time often by ten times. Don't just dive into your work. Plan your day and plan your week. This is the place where a little time up front can have a multiplying effect. 15 minutes well invested at the beginning of each week can save you hours of wasted time, effort and resources.
42. Be on time. Be on time for everything on your schedule. This minimizes possibility that your tasks slide off the schedule and affect other things later on. It also recognizes the value of others' time. If you have a problem being habitually late, give yourself a 10 or 15-minute head-start. Also, schedule in some buffer time between appointments and blocks of working time so that you have some flexibility for the unforeseen events like traffic jams, urgent phone calls or other things that will occur and disrupt your week. We can't control everything but by allowing some buffer time, we reduce the chances of being late. If the buffer time is not needed, you might just find something else you can accomplish in that time frame, or you can enjoy some peaceful transition time to recharge for your next task or appointment.
43. Imagine you have finished the task. Feel that surge of euphoria. Now, ride on that wave of energy and use that energy to move your tasks into completion. If the accomplishment of the task is not stimulating, imagine the reward you will have when you are finished. Either way, learn how to motivate and reward yourself with your imagination or via real rewards that are complimentary to the size of the task. You don't want to reward yourself with a popsicle for completing a marathon, as the prize is too small, nor would you want to give yourself a 2-week vacation for writing a 2-page essay. The reward should fit the task.
44. Practice makes perfect. It takes 10,000 hours to become a master at what you do. Make sure you put the due diligence in your work. The better you are at it, the more work you can do in the same amount of time.
45. Use focused bursts of energy: Get your task nailed down by channeling all your energy into getting it done in a period of time rather than with little spurts of energy. If you have a report that will take 3 hours to finish, it is better to do it all at once rather than the alternative where you do it for 30 minutes every day, each time having to recollect where you left off previously. If you have to, take a 5-minute break every 50 minutes to 1 hour and walk around, get a drink of water or a small snack to give yourself a boost, but stay at it until it is done.
46. Get a coach. A coach brings awareness to your blind spots, pushes you forward and opens you up to new levels of performance you never thought possible. Most professionals who hire a coach stay at the top of the performance curve, whether in sports or in a business / profession. Those who hire a coach are far more likely to reach the top 5% to 10% in their profession and are far more likely to improve more consistently than those without a coach.
47. Find your 80/20 tasks and do your top 20% tasks following the Pareto Principle. Continue to move your efforts up the 80/20 scale where possible. The Pareto Principle states that 80% of your results comes from 20% of your efforts. Continue to figure out which of your daily and weekly efforts or tasks are bringing in 80% of your returns and focus on those first. Chances are, you may not need to do the other 20%. This means that you can continue to fine tune your tasks and potentially learn which 20% of your top 20% tasks are giving you the best ROI. Continue to work your way up the scale this way until you can afford to outsource the other tasks or simply get more work that pays a bigger return. You will continue to get more accomplished in less time. If you are an employee, you can use this to stand out and work on other initiatives and rise above your peers. If you are self-employed or own a business, you can grow the value of your paid time or business value.
48. Find new sources of inspiration. We all lose focus and can get deflated while working toward certain goals. If you feel like you are getting into a plateau where your focus and your accomplishment gets into a non-improvement zone, do some research, read a new book or article on your topic, or watch a video of a renowned speaker, professional or coach in the area where you have reached a plateau and allow the new information to give you a burst of creativity. Know yourself and know what motivates you, then use that knowledge to empower yourself to improve your effectiveness and efficiency. The Focus5 app has a built in performance reports that will show you amazing, simple insights into your daily, weekly and monthly behavior patterns. Use this tool to your advantage to take your performance to the next level.
49. Switch from right-brained to left-brained tasks. If your work is mostly right-brained, you may get a creative drain. Break your creative time by doing an analytical puzzle or something else that might be left-brained. If you are normally stuck doing left-brained work, break it up with short bursts of creative right-brained work. After small breaks, come back to your task and you will be a little more refreshed.
50. Read books from 4 different disciplines for 15 minutes each day. Many leaders use this to keep their edge and to feed their creativity. Choose 1 book from your core discipline, 1 book for comedy or laughter, 1 book from a creative topic and 1 book from a new discipline that you would like to learn more about. Keeping a balance like this each week will not only energize you, but you will learn new things, improve your creative flow and come up with new, exciting ideas that you would not otherwise thought of.
51. Listen to a brief podcast during transition time. If you have a commute to work, or there is a predictable lull in your work-day, find a podcast that feeds you with positive information or creativity. You can also follow the 4 disciplines method from the previous idea. Subscribe to podcasts from 4 different disciplines to round out your learning, leisure and personal growth.
52. Learn to chunk. Chunking is taking your larger or more complex / difficult tasks or goals and breaking them into bite-sized, related chunks that you can handle. This can also be done for tasks that you really don't want to do, but you have to do. Chunking large, unwanted or difficult tasks into smaller pieces will help you see progress, feel better about getting closer to the end of the task, and will help you get it done. You can also put some breaks between your chunks to reward yourself with 5 to 10 minutes of something enjoyable.
53. Drink plenty of water. The is so simple, yet most people work through the day dehydrated. Have a full drinking cup with you at all times so that you are constantly drinking fresh water. Being hydrated removes more waste from your body, helps regulate your body chemistry, reduces brain fog and can help you feel more energized. There are many, many benefits to drinking plenty of water and this is one of the easiest ways to help your focus. A dehydrated brain will have more trouble staying focused than a well-hydrated brain.
54. Know your caffeine limits and eat a balanced diet. Some people operate better with a little more caffeine, coffee or tea. Others work best with little or none. Find your sweet spot and remain there. In addition to regulating your caffeine intake, make sure that you have a balanced diet. Eating too much junk food or processed food increases toxins in your body, making your organs work harder to filter your blood and keep your brain in optimal health. Eating a balanced diet also helps you have fewer insulin spikes or "sugar crashes". These can be untimely and can be a detriment to your productivity and effectiveness.
55. Find your ideal work clothing. Some people are affected by the clothing they wear. If your clothing makes you feel uncomfortable physically or psychologically, change it. Wear clothing that makes you feel confident and comfortable at the same time if possible.
56. Get regular exercise. People who live a sedentary lifestyle have multiple factors working against them. Not only can their health and weight be adversely affected, their focus can suffer as well. It has been proven that exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins help you to feel better more often. In addition, people who exercise regularly have better physical and mental stamina which is important for those more difficult tasks that you will face each week.
57. Take a break. Take at least one full day off from your work every week. Focus on something else so that you can start fresh. Give your mind a rest. This is often when my best ideas come forward. It is also natural to follow a 1 day off per week cycle. People who work 7 days a week have been shown to have more burn out than those who get a weekly Sabbath or rest. For thousands of years and across multiple cultures, a weekly rest day has been practiced and is beneficial to one's health and productivity. According to Business Insider ". . .decades of research supports the 40-hour workweek and shows that working longer can lead to serious negative effects on health, family life, and productivity. Studies show that, over time, working long hours can increase your risk of depression, heart attack, and heart disease."
In addition, a 5 year study as reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that those who worked 40 hours per week performed much better cognitively than those who worked 55 hours per week. Testing showed poorer vocabulary and reasoning with those people who worked 55 hours versus those who worked 40 hours. The participants completed a variety of tests to evaluate intelligence, verbal recall, and vocabulary.
58. Do creative work first. After your first hour of work, you often have a lot less capacity than at the beginning of your day or project. When you start with creative work, that energy can often carry over to other less-creative tasks that you have to do.
59. Allocate your time deliberately. You want to be diligent about what you put into the hours when you are most focused and most productive.
60. Find your sweet spot during the day. Most people focus best in the morning or late at night, and Rock's studies show that 90 percent of people do their best thinking outside the office. Notice where and when you focus best, then allocate your toughest tasks for those moments. It is also great to have Focus5 with you on your mobile device so that you can take advantage of those creative moments. Many top leaders used to carry some kind of small notebook to capture these ideas when they happened, but as technology continues to evolve, an app like Focus5 is effective and efficient because you can capture the ideas in the app and then prioritize them later.
61. Systematize: If there is one commonality amongst successful people, effective leaders and great teams, it's consistency. To be top notch in any field requires strict focus and a consistent effort, which comes from deliberate practices conducted at specific times over and over again. In other words, practice doesn't make perfect -- perfect practice makes perfect. If you can do all of this in one convenient app or software that tracks your weekly performance and reports, you will be able to track positive and negative behavior patterns and improve on your systematic approaches.
62. Think positive: Keep your mind and thoughts committed to the task at hand. When you think about it positively, you are much more likely to get it done. If you have trouble being positive, or have a tendency toward pessimism, read books and get help while training your mind to become more positive. In most cases, the negative things we imagine or fear in the future never come to pass. Focusing on the present day and what you have control over can help you maintain a positive, productive attitude.
63. Be present: A popular phrase that is proven effective in training your brain to focus is “Be present.” Every time you find your mind wandering elsewhere, tell yourself, “Be Present in this situation.” When you find yourself drifting off again, say, “Be present,” until you finally get used to doing it. Clear your head of all the distractions, so that you can attain the power to focus.
The Focus5 productivity app is designed to help you stay in the present, focusing on those tasks that are most important to you. It is designed to help ordinary people take control of their daily lives and achieve extraordinary results.
64. If you work a lot on your computer, close all programs and windows other than what you need for the task at hand. This will keep all pop-ups, distractions, or other technology from interfering with your ability to stay on task. Newton's law applies to technology for sure. If it can happen, it most likely will. So be proactive by closing the windows you aren't using and disable notifications that are not required for the task at hand. When you are finished, you can take a 5 to 10-minute break and catch up on those fun, social things that would otherwise derail your efforts.
65. Turn off the Internet. Shut off your connection, unplug your router, or best yet, go to a place where the is no Internet (yes, those still exist). This is the absolute best way to find focus. If you must have the Internet to work, follow the previous step and set up technology barriers so that you won't get distracting pop-ups or push notifications.
66. Turn off all other kinds of notifications on other devices. It is amazing how many meetings one can attend today where people are constantly checking their phones for the latest text, tweet, or update. Trying to focus while something is notifying you of an incoming email or tweet or Facebook update is impossible. One company we worked with had a small, comical jail cell for mobile devices in the middle of the table. When meetings started, they were required to turn their devices to "silent mode" and place their smartphones or devices into the small jail until the meeting was over.
67. Plug in the headphones. If you have people around who might distract you, wearing headphones and playing some good, peaceful music is perfect. Make sure you are listening to something instrumental, or something that does not require you to use the parts of your mind that should be dedicated to your tasks. Music with lyrics, news and talk shows often require the language center of the brain to be engaged. If your task requires the use of language, either by writing, editing, or reading, then you will be distracted and less productive if you are listening to streams with talking or lyrics.
68. Attention and focus is a skill that can be learned. Commit to practicing these skills daily in your work and personal life. The more you practice these skills, the better results you will experience. Some have said your mind is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it will be. This is true of practicing focus and attention skills.
69. Avoid computers for the first hour of each day. Focus your attention and work on planning and laying out your tasks for the week and day. If you follow our other strategy of planning for 15 minutes at the beginning of each week, you may find that you can get into your work more quickly each day. You may even have more time at the end of the week for more productive tasks or personal rewards!
70. Use technology on-the-go. Use Focus5 to capture all your tasks where ever you are. The technology is available, so be sure to take advantage of it. You can capture your tasks wherever you are, and add, delete or reschedule and prioritize with ease. It's up to you and you are in control of your day, your week, your destiny and your life. Use technology as a benefit and not as a time-wasting distraction.
71. Take notes in meetings to keep your attention and focus on the conversation. Write down the key thoughts or action items you need to remember. Review your notes within 24 to 48 hours for 15 minutes and add the most important items to your calendar and Focus5 app. Once you are done with your notes, mark the pages with a large red mark and a date, or some other symbol you create so that you know you are finished with those pages. When you browse through your notebook later, you will not have to waste more time reading and deciding if you missed anything important from your meeting notes. When you systematize this with a productivity app and your calendar, you will become much more effective and efficient with following through on the most important take-away items from your meetings.
72. Surround yourself with organized people. Getting the right people around you, that are organized and focused, will help you keep your focus and stay organized as well. Not only will more organized and productive company help change the atmosphere around you, but you will be able to pick up on other ideas and strategies that work well for them. You can test and incorporate what works for you.
73. Jump-start your health each morning. While we talked earlier about drinking plenty of water, it is also important to eat a good, healthy breakfast. Starting your day right will help your brain stay fully engaged longer. Hydrating early in the day, and getting balanced nutrition will give your mind and body what it needs to perform optimally. Donuts and coffee loaded with sugar early in the morning is not ideal. But I'm sure you already knew that!
74. Keep a good work-life balance. A well balanced mind and body functions at a superior level. Keep your mind and body healthy with a good work-life balance. It helps when you schedule other family and personal leisure events in your calendar, and treat them with the same importance that you treat work. They are as important for a good life as work is, so give them the attention that they deserve and you will be thankful for it.
75. Change it up! Get up and move around every while for a few minutes. This will restore blood flow and oxygen to your extremities. Both are necessary for strong concentration. Multiple studies have shown that sitting for too long has detrimental physical and mental health effects. By getting up and moving around regularly throughout the day, you will be improving your health and ability to function well.
76. Exercise your mind muscle. Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen, even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind. If your work requires a lot of simple tasks that seem to bore or stagnate your mind, break up the rhythm with short, creative tasks that exercise your mind.
77. Improve Concentration through Meditation: Meditation is using the power of focused yet relaxed mental effort on something that is positive and true. Several studies have shown that meditation can be a good brain training tool that affects especially attentional / concentration skills. What you meditate on is as important as how you meditate. Train your mind to meditate on things that are true and good and you will be better off for it. When you return to work tasks, you mind and body will be refreshed and ready to go.
78. Bore through the boring stuff. If you've ever sat through a class or meeting that was deathly boring, or had to read a truly mind-numbing report, you know how hard it can be to concentrate. Here are some tips to help improve your concentration when you're just not that into whatever you have to do. Chew gum, eat a mint, doodle, etc. You can also highlight and chunk things in the report or in your meeting notes. Finding a creative way to work through the mundane things can help you turn a boring task, meeting or paper into something more palatable.
79. Isolate yourself for productive periods. Become a hermit and stay away from other people if you want to get work done. Unless your work is based on other people they will only break your focus. Create a private space and refuse to talk to anyone until your work is finished. Put a sign on your door to steer away drop-ins and don't answer your phone. If you work from home, be sure to set ground rules with your family and ask them to help you by respecting your office hours. Then take small breaks to socialize and reward yourself. Just be sure that your breaks don't turn into long distracting periods that take you away from what you have committed to doing.
80. Remind yourself why this task is important. If you are working towards your goals, reminding yourself why this work needs to get done will help you stay focused on accomplishing it. Picture the end reward of accomplishment. If there is no immediate reward, then picture the bigger reward of getting to the end of your group of tasks and visualize it strongly.
81. Take action: Action is motivating in itself. Once you are moving towards your goal, it is more difficult to stop you. Stay focused. Keep moving. Keep taking action. One of the top habits of highly effective people is to take clear, focused action toward your goals. People who take action more quickly and more often end up getting to their goals more quickly.
82. Create time slots for visitors. Plan time for others to have access to your day and time. Manage when and where you are available. Visitors can help break up the monotony of the week and as long as they are positive relationships, they can add richness to your life. Negative, high maintenance people can be a drain on your energy and time. Be sure to limit their access to your schedule and surround yourself with people who are positive and practice positive habits.
83. Mix up your locale. When you need to be creative, work out of a different location. Stimulate your brain's creativity with new sights and sounds. As long as the new location is not distracting, it can be very stimulating to your creative mind. You can also experiment with changing the nature of your location. If you normally work indoors, try a beautiful outdoor setting. If your normally work outdoors, find something creative and stimulating that is indoors and see what works for you. Remember, you are building habits that will help you improve your focus.
84. Sweep the decks! Clear off your desk at the end of every day. When you start each day fresh with a plan of its own, yesterday's work won't bog you down. If you have left-over priority items that did not get completed, you can line those up first. You can also create a simple checklist at the end of the day before you leave the office or head home from work. Leave the checklist where you will be able to find it. That checklist can help you get a much better start the next day, improve your focus and save some of your valuable time.
85. Partner-up! Find a positive, disciplined partner to work with. Find someone who is working on something similar and hold each other accountable to accomplishing your planned work each day. In the Focus5 app, you can create connections with other users. These connections and messages are private and you can use the app to easily encourage and hold each other accountable. This can be used with any kind of goal, initiative or task, from building a business to improving your personal fitness, to getting better at a certain set of skills. When you are accountable, you are 10 times more likely to accomplish your goals. Focus5 was designed with this power of positive, private accountability in mind.
86. When your task requires creativity, take a walk. Let your mind wander while you are walking and enjoying nature. The increased stimulation will spark creative ideas more often than not. Usually, if you alternate longer periods of work with short periods of creative walks like this, your mind will come up with great solutions or other creative ideas that you normally would not discover if you kept your nose to the grind and did not allow for short, creative, refreshing breaks. Your focus will certainly improve as you learn to give your mind frequent bursts of creative rest.
87. The night before. . . Remind yourself of your priorities for tomorrow before you go to bed. Sleep on them and hit the ground running tomorrow with a fresh plan, renewed energy and drive. When you put these priorities on a piece of paper before you go to sleep, you are dumping out the concerns and ideas that might otherwise keep you up at night and sabotage your sleep.
88. Block them out! If you work in an office setting with others around you, use headphones or white noise to block out the distractions of others. If you are unable to use headphones or white noise, request a different location with less distractions. When your employer realizes that your concern is your productivity, they will be more inclined to assist you and grant your request.
89. Grab some coffee: But don't just grab it. . . drink it! If you need an attention booster in the afternoon, a coffee shop run might do the trick. In a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, French physiologist Astrid Nehlig found that caffeine increases physiological arousal, which makes you less apt to be distracted. It can make you less apt to feel deflated or tired in the afternoon. Also, try eating a lighter lunch. Sometimes a heavier lunch with more starches and carbs can take your blood sugar and insulin levels on a roller coaster ride. Crashing in the afternoon after lunch is not an option in many cultures, so adjust to a lighter lunch and then reward yourself later at dinner.
90. Check the thermostat: If its too hot or too cool in your work environment, it could impact your focus. A study from Cornell University found that workers are most productive and make fewer errors in an environment that is somewhere between 68 and 77 degrees. If you don't control the thermostat, bring a sweater or a fan. For some people, the office temperature of 75 degrees is too warm. For some people, 70 degrees is too cold. Be aware and do what you can to adjust your workspace to a comfortable temperature that works best for you.
91. Pay attention: Learn the ability to pay attention by using concentration. When you sit and quietly think or focus on one object, you are concentrating. You will find that by developing concentration skills you will be able to solve problems quickly, and instead of running around in a quandary, you will already know the answers. Concentration gives you the resources or the power you need to speed up thinking processes.
92. Avoid over-scheduling. Packing too much into your day can wear you out. It is often better to keep a regular schedule and stay operating at a higher level. The Focus5 app has behavioral performance tracking. When you review these weekly and monthly trends, you will learn powerful insights that can help you find the right rhythm and schedule load that is optimal for you.
WHEN YOUR FOCUS RELIES ON OTHERS
93. Pair your times. Schedule time with others when you both are near your highest productivity times. This may take some learning, trial and error, but it is worth the effort. The increased synergy will often be more than 1+1 = 2. There can be a multiplying effect when you synergize with someone else, and when the chemistry and productivity times are aligned well.
94. Avoid making abrupt schedule changes: Consideration of others schedules will keep your mutual stress levels lower. Manage your stress and ability to focus by courteously managing theirs. There are few emergencies in life, but some people live lives in the urgent and unimportant quadrant all the time. Limit your time with people who refuse to be organized, positive and proactive. You will be glad you did.
95. Be generous with praise and recognition. A highly motivated partner is much better than an unmotivated one. If you have to dump, process or work out some negative relational issues with someone in your business or work, find an accountability partner or coach who will never violate your trust and will be a good listener. Sometimes just processing some of the negatives with other trusted people is all you need to get the negative weight off your shoulders and get back on track to a life worth living.
96. Say thank you a lot: Gratitude will help create a real connection. When there is a real one-to-one connection, you will operate together at a much higher level. When a person feels appreciated and recognized, they will operate with more internal motivation. There is a famous quote that says, "recognition: babies cry for it and men die for it". This quote is a powerful reminder that being appreciated and recognized in a positive way is innate to our internal makeup. When a person works for long periods of time without recognition or appreciation, their internal motivation will suffer and so will their efforts, productivity and quality of work.
97. Mix it up again: Work on your #1 priority first and then theirs. Switch off next time making their priority the priority. There is a psychological principle of "reciprocity" at work here and in many of these ideas that involve the work or efforts of another person. When you serve and give to another's benefit, they often will give more back because of the principle of "reciprocity". Give first and build up a deposit in others. Sew positive seeds in their lives. Reciprocity will work to your benefit and theirs, and you will both be better off for it.
98. Set a crazy goal: Some people call these BHAGs - or Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Set an over the top goal with your partner and see if you can achieve it. Then reward yourself with a day of focus on something more fun or interesting. Be sure that the rewards are not too cheap, small or infrequent. Also, be sure that they are not too frequent. Finding the right balance of reward and frequency will optimize both of your efforts. In behavior modification studies that we performed in college, it had been found that rewards that are less predictable in frequency but frequent and valuable enough will improve desired behavioral outcomes. Knowing your partner and what he or she likes is valuable too. Behavior modification works best when the rewards are in a pool of options that the person would choose, regardless of the value or cost. The opposite is also true. A study was performed before animal rights laws were placed on psychological and medical testing. Dogs were placed in a metal cage. All dogs would receive a mild shock on the floor. Half of the dogs could push a lever to stop the shocks. These dogs maintained a high level of positive behaviors. The other dogs could not stop the shocks regardless of what they did. These helpless dogs quickly acquired what psychologists call "learned helplessness". They soon laid down in the cage, whimpered and gave up all hope and activity. People can respond the same way in situations where they believe they have no real control over the desired outcome. They give up and operate at a minimal, sustainable level, much like the helpless dogs.
99. Set a daily challenge: Keep your partner engaged by challenging them to getting a task done in a certain time frame. Recognize a winner at the end of your challenge. Loser buys coffee in the afternoon. If you don't like coffee, go for tea or a reasonable pastry. Whatever you decide, the idea is to make it fun and create a small competition that will motivate you both. When "The Talent Code" author, Daniel Coyle studied hotbeds of athletic talent producers around the world, he found the best performers came from camps where peer competitions and rewards were a regular part of their training. Fun, measured competition will improve the performance of most people across most industries and goal sets.
100. Surround yourself with the subject matter you are working on. If you are working on writing a new procedure, surround yourself with all the ideas that you have, books, articles, regulations, etc. so that all the objects surrounding you are feeding your creative mind with pertinent data. You can even develop a creative wall where you can post ideas and reorganize the ideas, adding and subtracting post-it notes as your learning and creativity develops.
There you have it! 100 Focus tips to help you become more focused and productive, and to live a more satisfying life.
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All of these Focus & Productivity tips are designed to help your get more satisfaction out of your work while being more effective and efficient. When you combine some of these strategies with the Focus5 productivity app, you will engage several success factors in 1 convenient app. Try Focus5 today - no credit card required.