Top 10 Ways to Stay Focused

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Our modern world has brought about many marvels. Technology is evolving faster than ever, making us more connected, medical science is treating and curing more diseases than ever before, we have better lives thanks to modern conveniences, and yet, most of us have less time than ever.

We’re so busy taking advantage of all the time saving devices and advancements out there, that we have failed to notice that our lives are becoming busier and busier with each added responsibility and activity.

The result of all this is that our focus has become diffused. Frantically we multi task, making sure that our home, work and social lives stay up to scratch. Of course, nothing is perfect, but everything is good enough. With so many things on our plates, it’s well nigh impossible to focus on just one or two of the most important things, and so, we never achieve our full potential.

What about when we really need to focus though. What if there’s a critical project that needs to be completed, or if something else arises that requires our attention. How can we improve our focus, still achieving all the things we need to do, and making sure they’re all done right. Focus and dedication are the two keys to getting anything done, and the better your focus is, the easier you will find it to achieve all of your goals, whatever they may be.

Here are our top ten tips to improve your focus.

10. Decide on Your Goal

The very first step in getting focused is to set a goal.

You wouldn’t go on a trip with no destination in mind would you? Trying to get focused without a goal amounts to the same thing. A lot of running around, with no progress.

Your goal could be broad, such as “make more time for me” or more pinpointed, such as “improve my performance at work and get a promotion.” Your goal should be backed up by sound reasoning too. If you’re trying to do better at work, why? Do you want a raise or a promotion; are you trying to protect your job?

Knowing your goal is the very first step in improving your focus, and of course, you can have short, medium and long term goals. Whatever they are, figure them out, and write them down.

9. List the Steps

Once you’ve figured out your goal, you’re probably sitting looking at a piece of paper with a word or two scrawled on it, thinking that it seems just as unattainable as ever.

Looking at anything like that is daunting, and can make you want to crumple up that piece of paper, forget your goals, deal with having less focus, and go back to your old system, of fixing whatever’s most broken first. That’s why it’s important to break everything into easy to manage, bite sized pieces, and tackle them one at a time.

Remember the old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day?” that’s the same reason we break things up into steps. It helps us look at the building blocks, rather than just that one overwhelming task.

Setting timeframes can also improve focus. Give each item on your to do list a timeframe, and you’ll be adding motivation to get it completed.

8. Give Yourself Visual Reminders

When you’re trying to stay focused, giving yourself something visual to remind you of your goal will help enormously.

If, for example, you’re focusing on getting a promotion, get yourself a black or white board, and put it up somewhere where you will see it. Write messages to yourself, reminding yourself of the goal. If you want to lose weight, keep your focus on the goal by putting a picture on the fridge. Its clichéd, but it works.

Even post it notes can help. Stick a few where you’ll see them. Put them on your computer monitor, bedside lamp, and bathroom mirror. Wherever you’ll see them, and be reminded of your goals works.

Another great idea is to put reminders on your cell phone. All too often, we write things in a diary, and then forget to check it, rendering the effort futile. A reminder, with an alarm, on your cell phone, will help you get, and keep on track, helping you focus, and removing the worry that you will forget something crucial.

Last, but not least, get yourself an in tray, whether at home or in the office. Seeing physical files, documents, bills or other items in your tray will help remind you to focus, and to achieve those tasks on your list!

Visual reminders help us stay focused and motivated, which leads to achieving goals quicker and easier.

7. Talk to Yourself

It’s another cliché, but then, clichés become that because they’re used over and over. And the reason for that is that they work.

Giving yourself a pep talk before work, or first thing in the morning, whether in the mirror while you get ready, or in the car on the way to work, will help you remember your goals, whatever they may be, and to keep focused on them.

Appoint yourself your own life coach, or motivational speaker, and remind yourself often what your goals are, and that focus, determination, hard work, and a little bit of luck, can get you wherever you want to be.

6. Clear Out the Clutter

A cluttered house, office or desk is unlikely to inspire motivation or focus in anyone, so if you want to get, and stay focused, you’re going to have to spend a little time banishing all the junk you’ve accumulated over the years.

Start small. Take it one room or one drawer of your desk at a time. If you can’t bear to part with papers, in case you’ll need them sometime in the future, invest in storage boxes to keep them safe, label them, and stack them on a shelf or in a cupboard.

Keep going, and eventually, every physical area of your life will be organized, helping you to get your mind organized. Plus, it’s easier, and more pleasant, to do anything if the area you do it in is well organized, clear and uncluttered. Be brutal if you have to, but get it done.

5. Learn to Stay Calm

Panicking is one thing that can kill focus very, very quickly. When we get stressed, and start to panic, we stop reasoning, and start doing indiscriminately.

Have you ever met someone who always seems busy, but gets very little done? Chances are, they are in a constant state of panic, acting and reacting without planning or thinking about what they’re doing and why. They bounce frantically from one task to the next, never finishing anything, always rushed, unfocused and unproductive.

Train yourself to remain calm. Take deep breaths, count to ten, or talk to yourself. Do whatever it takes to keep your mind focused on the goal. Once you can do that, and keep focus on your immediate goal, you’ll start doing things that will help you reach your goal quicker, and the more you practice, the better you’ll get.

Pretty soon, you’ll be planning every step, thinking about every action, and keeping your focus much easier than before.

4. Delete

We all want to do it all, and have it all. Unfortunately, however, there’s only so much focus to go around, and the more irons you have in the fire, the more likely you are to lose focus on all of them.

Take a look at your schedule, and figure out if there are things you can strip away, giving yourself less to do, and narrowing your focus to the really important things. If you find duplicates, for example, taking a yoga class and going to the gym, choose one, and scrap the other.

Figure out which activities are the most important to you, and your short, medium and long term goals, and plan your day, week and month around those, making sure you leave yourself some down time in between.

A big part of deleting is learning to say no gracefully. Have you ever said yes to someone automatically, only to realize later on that you actually don’t have the time, or the energy, to accomplish the task you agreed to? Not only does that steal focus from the things that are important to you, but it can eventually lead to resentment. Rather say, I’ll think about it, and then do just that. If you honestly have the time, agree, but if you don’t, just say no, apologize for being unable to help, and be done with it. I can guarantee you, true friends and family won’t hold it against you, and if they do, that’s their problem. Not yours.

3. Delegate

For most people, delegating is one of the most difficult time management skills to master. Handing something over to someone else is a scary prospect, since it means you no longer have complete control, but if you want to narrow down your responsibilities, and gain more focus, you have to reduce the number of worries you have.

It could be as simple as asking your spouse to pick up the dry cleaning, or handing over simpler tasks at work, but whatever you do delegate means one less thing you need to do yourself, and one less thing to split your focus on.

Delegating could even mean hiring house help, or getting an assistant or child minder. Anything that splits your load will help you focus more decisively on the important things.

The key to delegating though is to delegate, and then actually give up control, trusting the person you have given the task to get it done. Giving away some of the problems that are impacting on your focus and then micro managing them makes no sense whatsoever, and will actually cause you to lose focus even more.

2. Simplify

Simplifying your life is actually an easily accomplished thing, if you set your mind to it. Things like banking online instead of rushing out during lunch, or using bought pasta sauce instead of homemade, sorting out your closet and finding your favorite work outfits, putting them one side, all mean there’s less to think about, meaning more time, and more focus, for the important things.

Paring down, and automating basic functions and tasks , so that there’s barely any thought or effort involved, frees up more time for you to focus on the important stuff.

Even things as simple as putting your keys in one place, doing your grocery shopping once a month instead of weekly, and finding a better route to work can make your life easier, and give you more time, and energy, to focus on the important things.

1. Relax

Just as it’s important to learn to be calm, it’s important to learn how to relax. If you’re stressed out, your body goes into fight or flight mode. All unnecessary systems start shutting down, including your immune system, which is why you get sick easier when you are stressed out.

Being stressed is also an easy way to kill focus. You’ll be more lethargic, find it harder to concentrate, may have trouble sleeping, and will certainly have a short fuse. None of which is conducive to focusing on anything. Stress can even lead to serious health issues like heart problems and a stroke, so learning to relax helps more than your focus!

Learn meditation, yoga, tai chi or other relaxation techniques, pencil some down time into that hectic schedule, and make some time for you, and you’ll be able to get back to being much more focused when you’ve recharged.

Once you’ve gone through all of these steps, you should be a lean, mean, focused machine, ready to take on the world, tackle anything, and tick tasks off your to do list with lightning speed. And when you’ve reached that stage, there’s absolutely nothing on earth you cannot achieve. So go out there, focus on what you want, and get it.