Most people have trouble focusing, especially in a hyper-connected digital age. Here are some of the most common reasons we aren't as productive as we could be, and what you can do about it.
1) Your "to do" list is too long. Massive to-do lists can be overwhelming for day-to-day project management. At the start of each day (or the end of the previous day), select 3-5 items to complete each day.
2) You're not eating frogs for breakfast. Mark Twain is quoted with saying, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Modern day translation: When starting your day, do the most challenging task first. Completing this task the first thing in the morning feels great and sparks motivation to do more.
3) You try to focus for long periods of time. The Pomodoro time management technique suggests using a timer to break work into 25 minute increments. Having a timer running on your phone, ipad, or computer can be surprisingly effective at encouraging you to get in the zone. Experiment with the length of time that works best for you. Here's a free web-based tool you can use today.
4) You mindlessly scroll Facebook. If you find yourself automatically going to Facebook, try Newsfeed Eradicator. It’s a Chrome extension that replaces your newsfeed with a quote about productivity. You can still visit profile pages and groups, but you’ll need to have an intention about your visit to Facebook, which curbs the unconscious desire to scroll.
5) You spend too much time on a particular website. Self Control is free app that enables you to block access so you can stay focused. You simply download the app, enter the name of the website, add the length of time you wish to block access, and voilá! Until the times expires you won’t have access to that site (or sites), even if you restart your computer. It’s extreme, but very effective.
6) You're constantly bombarded with notifications. Email, Slack, Instagram, Facebook, texts... with all that distraction is no wonder why we can't focus. 😬 Limit the notifications. If you want to do deep thinking, temporarily close/quit the apps, silence your phone, set a timer, and get to work.
7) You don't meditate. Arguably the most effective tool for enhancing focus, meditation is like lifting weights for your mind. Sitting still with your eyes closed for even just two minutes a day is training your attention and strengthening your mind. Your mind may race the entire time you’re meditating, but if you’re committed to sitting still and paying attention to your breath, you've made progress. Meditation also cultivates self awareness, which enhances conscious decision making. Favorite apps: Headspace for beginners, Insight Timer for everyone, and Guru for experienced meditators seeking to deepen their practice.
Now is the perfect time to review what's important, and what you can do right now. Go! 😊