Tuesday, April 10, 2018

4 Steps to Sharpen Your Focus

Do you want to make the most of your time? You can improve your ability to focus in just a few days by using a simple check list.

Better focus can be learned

  • Have a plan
  • Notice but don't react to distractions
  • Practice regularly
You need to prepare for completing a task. I like to envisage what "finished" looks like. That way I can do some quick reviews during the allotted time and adjust my speed or effort. Putting in more effort for a short period of time is not any harder than working slowly for longer.

I love the feeling of achievement I get when I finish a task in the time I set. If it is part of a bigger project I feel very positive about the project if I  know I am putting in lots of effort for each smaller task. I can see the finish line coming closer each day and I find that very rewarding.

When I have a big physical job to do I break it down and assign smaller tasks in 30 min blocks.  Cleaning and organising goals can be achieved this way. This is how I managed to transform my sewing room into a nice place to work and create.

See what Kathy Vines has to say about "The Keys to Completing Organising Projects"
Here is a bit more science on training your brain to focus

Constantly trying to focus can leave you fatigued

  • Forcing yourself to focus requires energy
  • The brain needs time to rest and recover

I am always amazed by the amount of energy that gets used up when you think. Somehow I think that thinking is just a passive task.

In this article on "The Two Brain Systems That Control Our Attention" it is clear that trying to block out the distractions around you requires lots of effort. I know I feel my mind wandering all the time and I have to bring myself back on task quite often.

I now know that this is normal and is the way our brain works. With practice you can reduce the time you are distracted and also increase the time that you can focus.

Three ways to let your brain "rest" after periods of focus are:

  1. Meditate
  2. Take a stroll in natural surroundings
  3. Spend time on an enjoyable task so you loose track of time. This means your brain is not struggling to focus and is recovering from forced focus.

Set a time interval to stay focused

  • Use the Pomodoro method
  • No shorter than 30 mins
  • Take a few minutes break
  • Have a clear start and finish time
  • Have a clear picture of what "finished' looks like.

When training yourself to focus it is best to set a fairly short time interval to practise your focus. 30 mins is easy to accomplish. At the end of that interval take a short break to relax then do another focus interval.

Having a start and end time for a task and having a clear picture of what finished looks like makes completing the task more likely.

Have a plan to stay on task for that time

Multitasking is the enemy of productivity. It is much better to focus on one task.
Don't believe me? Have a read of this article on "The Truth About Multitasking".

To help you do this I have drawn up a simple sheet that you can print two to a page and double sided so you have lots to get you started.

Each time you start a task just go through the checklist. When I first started doing this I found that I didn't even realise when I was being distracted. I was halfway through commenting on a facebook group before I pulled myself up and wrote on the check list what distracted me. 

The more you work on this the less time it takes for you to realise you have gone off task. If it is something that needs attending to just make a note of it and come back to it later.

Download my free printable called "Sharpen Your Focus". After using it 4 or 5 times I now find that I automatically remove distractions and just thinking about the check list helps me notice when I am going off task and I can reduce wandering time significantly.

Stay Organised and Happy,

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