How To Stay Focused In 12 Simple Steps Or Less…Seriously!
Here’s my list of 12 things you can do to avoid distractions, stay focused and get more done. In no particular order and most are free or very little cost. Now you have not more excuses why you can’t hammer out that next big project. Avoid distractions, stay focused and get shit done…it’s that simple.
1. Turn Off Your Mobile Notifications
For me it was as simple of turning off all of my phones notifications. Simple enough thing to do with the iPhone, not sure on how it’s done on the Android but probably just as easy. Others might want to just turn their phones off completely. Since I have two girls who are in school and I’m the go to guy if the nurse calls because one of them has the sniffles, I don’t usually have the luxury of turning my phone off completely.
Pro Tip: There are several apps that will block notifications during a set period of time as well. Say from 8am-5pm if those are your work hours, just search the app store and you’ll find one you like.
2. Keep A Clean And Organized Work Area
A cluttered desk will translate to a cluttered mind…at least that is how I see it. When I had shit stacked up all over I would look at a stack of paper and think…I need to do something with that right now. Even though I might have been in the middle of sourcing a product, watching a webinar, having a Skype meeting or writing a post. You need to keep your work area clean and organized to reduce distractions and you’ll be a happier person.
3. What’s The One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Always be thinking to yourself “what the next one thing I can do.” This statement goes with just about anything you do in life.
Some examples for your consideration:
- Whats the one thing I can do right now to make me a safer driver?
- Whats the one thing I can do right now to show my child they mean more to me than anything?
- What’s the one thing I can do to learn photoshop better?
- What’s the one thing I can do to make dinner healthier?
- What the one thing I can do to get me closer to my goal for the day?
Always be thinking like this and sooner or later that one thing will become second nature and you just do it. Then, when it does, ask yourself what’s the “next” one thing I can do right now.
I think you get the idea.
4. Calm Yourself With Meditation
For any of you who haven’t tried meditation, please do. It can help calm the mind and body in ways I can’t possibly understand. I use to think it was just witch craft and hoopla but it’s not, it works. And…the more you do it the more focused you become. Start with just a couple minutes then work up to five minutes, ten and so on. I use an app called Calm and it works great. Keeps track of your progress, can send you reminders and all that jazz. The have a free and paid version. Start with the free and if it works for you get the paid, if not, try out another one. Once you are in a groove be sure to get a mediation pillow if you don’t want your ass to get sore.
5. Use A Pomodoro Timer When Possible
So the Pomodoro Technique works pretty well. Some people love it and some don’t. I’ve been using it more and more but there are days that I just wing it and don’t bother with the timer. However, for those who have mastered it say they get twice as much done in the same amount of time. How can you go wrong with that. Working smarter and not harder is always the goal. Oh yeah, theres an app or two for that as well. I use Be Focused Pro and it works really well.
6. Turn Off Background Voices
Cut out any music with voices, television shows or random people talking. Your brain subconsciously wants to ease dropping on the conversations and listen in. Once your mind picks up something interesting going on there goes y our concentration and focus. It’s best to just use white noise, classical music or one of the dozens of apps and services out there. For years I used a program called Focus At Will, but now I use an app called Relax Melodies and I create my own mixes, geeky I know.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have a lot of spare cash sitting around just search YouTube for videos like this. They work fairly well.
7. Pull The Shades
Steven King tells us to “write in a corner” if we want to get things done. I agree with this to a certain extent and for writers it might actually work. However, I tried this once and I felt like I was being disciplined and was waiting for the dunce hat to be put on me.
8. Work Nights, Weekends And Holidays (if needed)
Look we all know that success doesn’t happen in just working four hours a week, I don’t care what Tim Ferriss says in his book…it just isn’t gonna happen. Specially when you are just starting out or trying to ramp up you need to grind. Before I was able to replace my very respectable corporate IT job I was getting up at 4am to put in an extra two hours six days a week. I worked many Saturday/Sundays and various lesser holidays. This enabled me to replace my income and I’ve never gone back since. It was slow, but I was making progress and things where moving in the right direction. Sacrificing a holiday or weekend now for the longterm benefits of your freedom is worth it. If you need to put in nights and weekends to get your goal hammered our, fucking do it.
9. Keep Your Next Goal In Mind
Think to yourself, what is the one thing I can do next to move me closer to my goal. Always be thinking this and when you are not you should be concentrating on the task at hand. If you mind wonders, simply notice that it’s wondered, acknowledge it and come back to focusing on “the one thing” you can do right now.
10. Get Out Of The House
Sometimes when you work from home your brain tries to think of anything it can to keep you from doing work. You know…you just want a bottled water from the kitchen and then all of this happens.
- The dishes need to be put away.
- What should I make for dinner tonight?
- Is the laundry done?
- Watching a quick five minutes of ESPN turns into thirty minutes
- You need to walk Stanley (insert your dogs name here.)
- Maybe I should call someone to go to lunch with.
- Is it nap time?
- Maybe I should take a dip in the pool.
- It’s great weather to go to the range.
- I wonder how that bottle of Charles Krug 2012 Malbec tastes this time of day?
…and on and on…you get the idea.
Sometimes even with the distractions of a coffee shop you can actually get more work done.
Pro Tip: When you go to the coffee shop take your noise cancelling headphones, baseball camp and keep your head down and it’s all good.
11. Review Your Weekly, Monthly And Yearly Goals
This is your map for life. If you don’t have goals written down somewhere you better fucking get on it. If you have goals read, review and update on a weekly and/or monthly basis depending on your end game.
If you don’t have goals do this. Sit down right now, don’t even finishing this post…don’t worry you can share it later after you get shit done. Now, draw two lines down the page so you have three columns. In the first column put health/life, in the second column put family/friends and in the third put business/work.
Now, draw a line in the middle of the page across the other two lines. Above this line is short term goals(1-6 months), below this line is long term goals (6-18 months.) You can adjust the length of the short term and long term but get it done.
Now start writing down some goals for each column/category. They are ranked in order of importance because without column one in good shape column two and three really don’t matter. Without columns one and two, column three will be very hard to work on. You get the idea…not write and don’t stop until you are done.
Set a reminder on your calendar to come back and review these goals fairly often. If you are just starting out with this I would say weekly so they stay fresh in your mind and you stay focused on them. If you are a pro, maybe once a month or if you are fucking hardcore, every quarter maybe. Each person and situation will be different, find yours and stick to it.
12. Send Your WiFi Router On A Field Trip
Seriously…I know this will be difficulty for most to fathom but it’s possible. I’m writing this blog post right now without the World Wide Web. You would be surprised how much online work you can actually do offline.
Pro Tip: Have your spouse take the route with them to work in the morning and this solves the issue of trying to plug it back in so you can like photos on Facebook for the next two hours.
If you found this article helpful please post a comment below. Let’s get this focus thing hammer out so we can conquer the world.