How to Improve Your Focus: 6 Tactics to Stay on Task

If you aren’t focused on what you’re doing, then you stand zero chance of being successful.

“Focus can only occur when we have said yes to one option and no to all other options,” says James Clear, a writer who focuses on self improvement. “In other words, elimination is a prerequisite for focus.”

Here are a few specific things that can be done to increase focus:

1. block the ringing and dinging

Ring . . . ding . . . you’ve got mail. Between phone calls, text messages, mobile apps, and emails, constant exposure to different notifications can disrupt your flow and prevent you from truly concentrating on the tasks at hand.

There are certainly times when you need to be notified, but there are also plenty of times when it’s appropriate and necessary to silence everything and focus on a specific task. Whenever possible, try to silence your phone, log out of your email, and block notifications. Once you complete your task, you can follow up on anything you missed.

2. take frequent breaks

Research shows that the more you focus on a singular task for an extended period of time, the less focused you become. Your brain actually becomes numb to the stimuli and no longer finds it as engaging. One way to counteract this is by taking frequent, short breaks. The time away will recharge your brain and allow it to be stimulated again upon reintroduction.

3. outsource draining tasks

Certain tasks are more draining than others; ironically, these tasks aren’t always the most important or valuable. If you find that you’re spending a lot of manual effort and energy on time-consuming tasks that really don’t create much value, it may be a sign that you should outsource. By delegating these tasks, you can focus on the ones that actually matter.

4. strategically allocate time

In order to optimize focus, you have to be strategic with your time. Depending on how you operate and the way you process information, this may look like allocating specific time blocks for each task you face throughout the day. (For other people, it may look a little more flexible.) The point is that you need to create a framework for yourself; otherwise, you’ll bounce around from one task to the next without getting anything done.

5. stop multitasking

A lot of people think they’re at their best when they multitask, but this is rarely true. You may operate under the illusion that you’re getting more done, but more than likely you’re not.

“Multitasking forces your brain to switch your focus back and forth very quickly from one task to another,” Clear explains. “This wouldn’t be a big deal if the human brain could transition seamlessly from one job to the next, but it can’t.”

For best results, stop trying to multitask; it’s better to do one thing at a time. You might feel like you’re doing less, but you’ll end up accomplishing far more by the time it’s all said and done.

6. Don't ignore your personal life

Work-life balance is always an issue for people. In an ideal world, the two would coexist without any friction. One of the unfortunate side effects is that issues in your personal life can spill over into your professional life.

In order to prevent your personal life from being a distraction at work, make sure you create a healthy balance. When you’re away from work, spend time with your family and work through any issues that need to be handled. This will allow you to focus on work when you’re at work.

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