“Focus on the possibilities for success, not on the potential for failure.” — Napoleon Hill
If there’s one thing we could all probably use a lot more of, it’s the ability to stay focused. Telling yourself to set goals is one thing, but staying focused and completing those tasks is the hard part.
The good news is that there are several techniques that can help you set your goals and stay focused over summer.
1. Prioritise your tasks
A simple daily routine can help maximise your productivity. To achieve this, each night write down a short list of the most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow in order of importance. When you wake up the next day concentrate on only the first task. Work until the first task is complete and approach the rest of the list in this same fashion. Repeat this process every working day. You will be surprised how quickly you will finish your task list if you remain focused on it, freeing up time to do other things.
Why is this method so simple yet effective? It allows you to focus on the most important goals, put aside distractions and has given you structure to your working day that has already been planned and thought out the night before.
2. Practice the Pomodoro Technique
Maintaining focus isn’t always easy but it will help you work more efficiently. Next time you feel yourself losing track of your attention span, attempt the Pomodoro technique.
This technique is based on a timing method that helps train your brain to stay on task for short periods of time.
To do this, set your timer for 25 minutes and get to work. When your buzzer goes off, take a 5-minute break. Set the timer again and repeat. Once you’ve done four rounds of this you can take a longer break of about 20 minutes.
3. Set a SMART goal
Staying focused will help you get more done in less time. If your lack of focus is a result of feeling overwhelmed by a complex project, try breaking it down into smaller parts, and plugging the smaller steps into the SMART formula.
SMART stands for:
Specific. What exactly needs to be done?
Measurable. How will you track your progress?
Achievable. Is your deadline realistic?
Relevant. How does it fit with your overall plan or bigger goal?
Timely. Give yourself a timeline for when it needs to be done?
4. Fuel your body
We all know what happens when we don’t fuel our body – we feel run down, we might get ‘hangry’ in the office (combination of hungry and angry) and we may even start stress eating.
So, to keep our body functioning to the best of its ability, remember to not skip meals and eat a balanced diet.
The same way you plan and set your days, you should be planning your meals.
5. Get enough sleep
It’s no secret that getting a good night’s rest will help boost your productivity. The recommended amount of sleep for adults aged 18 to 60 years old is 7 or more hours a night.
This summer, while we are all looking to wind down, be sure to take care of your body and don’t fall into bad habits like skipping out on good rest. To boost your sleep health, try to:
- Avoid caffeinated beverages at night
- Switch off all electronics devices 30 minutes before bedtime. The lights from your phone will stimulate your brain and prevent you from feeling sleepy
- Read a book before bed. Stress tends to build up throughout the day but by immersing yourself in a good book, you can take your mind off your current situation. One study found that reading a book for just 6 minutes before bed reduced stress by up to 68%.
6. Be more mindful
As the year comes to an end, you begin to think about what the future may hold. It is common to experience your mind wandering off, distracted thinking (aka. daydreaming) affects everyone.
Being mindful means you can maintain moment to moment awareness of where you are and what you’re doing – which is great for when you’re trying to stay focused.
Being mindful and recognizing when your attention starts to drift can help you quickly bring your focus back to where it needs to be. You can train your brain to be more mindful through simple deep breathing, stretching, and meditation.
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