Building Habits, Focus, Studying

How to Stay Focused

FOCUS
focused

  • what is it?
  • why is it so important?
  • how to develop it
  • how to keep it & stay focused

Well according to dictionary.com focus can be defined as “the centre of interest or activity” or “an act of concentrating interest or activity on something”.

 In respect to this article we are going to consider focus the ability to concentrate on a specific task with ones full attention for the required length of time to complete what you had set out to do.

Everyone has been there – where you really need to get something done but just can’t bring yourself to actually do it, or lack the focus to remain at the task for any significant length of time.  Thankfully focus is a skill that anyone can develop and improve upon, unfortunately there is no revolutionary quick fix.  However, focus is truly important in all areas of life so definitely worth the effort to strengthen!

An improved ability to focus can benefit any individual in regard to so many things!  Whether it’s giving a friend your full attention during a conversation, patiently helping your kids with their homework, teaching a difficult task to someone else, learning a new skill, perfecting an old one, or simply completing a rather boring task in a timely manner there are only benefits to improved focus.

does being focused improve productivity?

Your productivity can shoot through the roof simply by gaining the ability to devote your entire attention to the subject at hand rather than being partway into many things at once.  This doesn’t mean multi-tasking isn’t beneficial, or that you shouldn’t have lots on the go at any given time.  It does mean that you need to be able to give your full attention to each of those tasks for a set amount of time.

Perhaps you put your full attention on chopping vegetables with your kids and getting a slow cooker ready for dinner. Then you can leave that running in the background while your focus is directed to office work such as writing the grocery list, organizing bills, or catching up on emails.  Upon completion of that perhaps it’s time to play a game with the kids or get them started on homework while you fold laundry (a task that is more suitable for a time when you may be interrupted as taking a quick break to answer questions doesn’t require you to comeback and restart the same way you may have to while writing up a summary for work).

Developing Focus

Like most behaviours focus is a habit that requires dedication to develop. Thankfully, once you’ve built it the benefits are so vast that it’s fairly easy to keep.  The most critical factors to developing focus are the determination to do so, and setting yourself up for success by removing distractions until you are easily able to ignore them.

Everyone has found something they were really interested in and totally absorbed by for a period of time.  Whether it was playing soccer, reading a really good book, or learning about your favourite subject. At some point in time we have all felt the power of complete focus.  Think back to that time and analyze what things helped to create it.  Most likely you enjoyed the subject of your attention – luckily it is possible to make almost anything interesting and fun for at least a short period of time.  If camp counsellors can make plunging a gross toilet fun you can most definitely find a way to not hate filing some paperwork or mopping the floor!

If you don’t like the task at hand find something positive about it – there is always something or it would never need to be done in the first place. If it requires visual attention and physical labour but not much auditory attention or brain power you can even throw some music on in the background.  You don’t have to love every task you complete but its so much easier to get it done well and quickly if you’re able to identify the core reason why it is necessary.

Set yourself up for success! 

This means knowing how you work best. Personally, i need a BIG clean work surface.  Having space to spread out everything involved in my current project allows me easy access to all of my materials. Additionally, I like the ability to quickly cross reference without having to ruffle through extra papers.  Finally, i work best with an aesthetically pleasing but not cluttered workspace – what about you?

Office Decor:

Generally speaking, I like to have one photo of something i enjoy or a single motivational quote on the wall in front of me.  A neutral non-distracting colour as the room’s paint, and wherever possible a nice big window that faces a quiet area (even if it looks out onto the brick wall of another house, having some natural light can still be beneficial). Last but not least, i like a little space on the floor available for a quick stretching break if needed. Your preferences may vary but figure out what they are and then create your workspace accordingly.

As far as the actual work i’m completing, its always more fun to be organized and colourful!  Having good pens in a variety of colours, nice paper, rulers, and a computer with only relevant tabs and documents open can make a huge difference.  The ability to make anything look nice is there when you have the above. Even scheduling appointments can be exciting when you get to fill them in with colour and see all of the vibrant productivity in your future!

Remove Distractions! 

This part is oh so important in the early stages of developing focus.  Once you’re “in the zone” you can stay focused without even noticing the majority of potential distractions but you need to make it easy for yourself to get focused in the first place.  If this means closing the door to your workspace to eliminate interruptions, playing some non-distracting music or white noise in the background to drown out audio distractions, leaving your phone on silent or even in an entirely different room then do it!

If you plan to work for a significant period of time then bring in a healthy snack to help boost your focus and eliminate the need to get up and make one.  Use the washroom before you start, and always have a refreshing drink available (water with lime in the summer, and a nice hot tea in the winter are my preference, coffee is a popular one as well, or even a cooler can be enjoyed over an evenings worth of work).  I don’t care who you are, no one actually studies better in front of the tv so get your work done first and then you can fully enjoy the whole show later instead of half watching while you kind of get a small start on what you really should be doing.

Thankfully, once truly focused and practicing the habit daily maintaining it is fairly easy.  Just don’t forget to get up and stretch your legs/get some fresh air every once in a while while working on larger projects that require long hours of focus.  A fresh mind always produces better work!

If you’ve read to this point it is highly likely that you got through the majority of this article in one go – proof already that you are capable of both developing and maintaining focus! Now go put that skill to use for another short project and build up to complete focus on the larger ones too!

***It’s incredible what you can get done if you just do it!***

If you’re still struggling to stay focused or drifting off during important tasks check out our other article on how to Stay Energized!

18 thoughts on “How to Stay Focused

  1. Focus is something that I hold in high regard as an entrepreneur. My craft takes a lot of discipline because I don’t have to answer to anyone. I am pretty motivated but everyone needs to sharpen the sword from time to time. This article has offered some great insight. Thanks for writing it up.

    1. Thanks Chawn,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article and very much agree that it’s a necessary skill for entrepreneurs and something you can always benefit from revisiting 🙂

  2. Hello and thank you for this informative and amazing article. It was really thorough and just what I needed. When I was younger I did have some problems focusing myself on my taks but nowdays I solved all my issues with concentration.

    I realized that after being absolutely focused some kind of rewarding feeling is released in your brain. I do not know if it is the hormones or what – but completing your goals and staying on course makes you feel so good about yourself it is amazing. That is number 1 thing that motivated me to be and stay absolutely concentrated.

    When you are in the zone the best tip is to forget about anything else and just keep yourself in that state.

    Thank you.

    Strahinja.

    1. I absolutely agree, and I believe thats why its so important to have the discipline to get started as it becomes so much easier after a couple rewarding tasks are completed!

  3. Thank you for sharing with us this great post on how to stay focused.In our daily life we meet many distractions but we are the masters of our life that’s why we have to avoid those distractions in order to get what we dream about.

    In this business,I always want to focus to the new ideas which can develop my online business.

    I learnt different tips in this post which will help me to change some routine that can hinder my success

  4. Thank you so much for this information, I really needed it today.  I work in the IT Security field and I usually have numerous tasks and issues thrown at me every single day.  I struggle a lot trying to keep it all under control and trying to prioritize what I need to get done first.  I’ll take some of these suggestions and use them starting immediately and see where it gets me.  

    1. Thanks very much for reading Toby.  I am glad you enjoyed the article and hope that the tips within it can reduce your stress and make the workload manageable 🙂

  5. What a great post on how to stay focused. It can be so hard when there are distractions around, sucking you away from what matters. A schedule is something I integrated into my life and it’s amazing! You feel more in control of your life, do you know what I mean?

  6. As a person who works online half the battle is staying focused to what needs to be done.  Its so easy to fall prey to all the distractions and then you end up not getting the work done that needs to be done.

    As a new marketer its very hard to be discipline but once you get through the distractions and learn to stay focused then your business will prosper.

    Thank you for writing a very informative article.

    Dale

    1. I absolutely agree with this Dale! I found focus to be one of the hardest parts when first starting out online but have since been able to get to work and stay there with the strategies I outlined here 🙂

  7. Recently, I’ve noticed that it got more difficult for me to focus. I started to “run away” from tasks using any available excuse. The most dangerous thing is my cell phone with Facebook app and Gmail on it. Why not to open FB for a minute, just to check (what exactly is so urgent????)… And end up scrolling for 30min reading crap.

    Too many open browser windows on my laptop. It’s so easy to jump from one another “just to check” and end up with nothing done 2 hours later.

    The modern open space offices just make things worse for me. People pinging me on the instant messenger, calling by phone, sending emails and just tapping on the shoulder every minute.

    Need to find a way to reduce all this noise. Thank you for bringing some fresh ideas.

    1. Thanks for the comment Mary! i hope you were able to find some tips to get yourself focused and maintain it even in situations that are busy such as the workplace you talked about.  Perhaps a pair os headphone would help drown out some noise so you only see the real distractions when necessary (ie, a coworker tapping on your shoulder).

  8. Lots of great suggestions, thank you for your post.  Over the last year, I have been trying to build out a website and the lack of focus is simply killer.  I even question whether there is even such a thing as multi-tasking.  Me, I do both tasks poorly! LOL

    I never gave much thought to the environment.  My desk is always little cluttered, and maybe that contributes to being scattered. One thing that has helped me lately is a productivity app on my phone.  I can set it for 55 minutes, and then I work until the bell rings.  It starts a five minute break, where I can stretch or go to the restroom and then it rings for me to continue with the next work period. 

    1. Thanks for the feedback Gustavo,  the productivity app sounds like a great addition to your routine for maintaining focus!! I hope a little decluttering will benefit you as well 🙂 best of luck with your website!

  9. You gave some great tips on how to be focused, especially if you struggle like I do sometimes. I work best in a quiet environment which sometimes means moving my phone to a different room or closing the door, two ideas you mentioned. I find that the kinds of food I eat or if I got a good night’s sleep the night before also factor into my ability to focus.

    Overall, I think this article is something anyone can benefit from because being able to focus is key.
     

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