improve focus

It’s easy to understand why it’s hard to concentrate and improve focus these days. Ours is a culture of information overload — there are just so many things to do and so many options available on the market. There’s also the legacy of a country deep in recession. You want to cut down on work and get some perspective, but you can’t afford to slack off less management includes you in next month’s lay-off.

Are you always overwhelmed and stressed-out? Do you find yourself committed to doing several things at once, but finding you can’t get a single thing done? Don’t worry; if lack of focus is your problem, help is on the way.

The following are Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Focus:

Get enough sleep. Let’s start with the biology; are you getting enough z’s? Sleep deprivation is an easy culprit in low productivity. When you lack sleep, your brain is too tired to attend to the task at hand. More so, your reaction time is slow, your hand-eye coordination almost non-existent and on some occasions, your vision gets blurry. Make sure that you get at least 8 hours of sleep a day. You’re not a machine!

Set goals. Create objectives. If you know where you want to go, you’d find it easier to identify which tasks lead to your goal, and which tasks are mere distractions on the road. For best results, set goals that are time-bound, realistic and measurable. Lack of focus can result from setting vague goals you don’t feel you can commit to.

Write things down. The faintest ink is better than the sharpest memory. Don’t rely on only your mind to remember all the things that you need to do. Instead, write everything down. Come up with a “to-do” list, outline your project plan, or simply list the steps you intend to follow to get to your goals. When all is on paper, life doesn’t feel so intimidating.

Be difficult to reach. A common distraction in the workplace is people demanding audience with you. How can you concentrate when your phone is ringing every 30 minutes, everyone from your children to the used car salesman are sending you emails, and you have a revolving door that allows all sorts of interruptions? When you need time to focus, and your work doesn’t involve having to communicate with the rest of the world, declare the need for privacy. Some communications are not important and urgent.

Practice daily meditation. You don’t have to enroll in a 4 hours-a-week yoga class to get some centering time. Every day, upon waking up, take a moment to close your eyes and get in touch with what you’re thinking and feeling. Imagine all your worries being temporarily folded and tucked away. Listen to a quiet song or a tape of nature sounds. The habit of daily “me” time can go a long way in helping you find order amidst the chaos.

Get rid of the clutter. Clutter without leads to clutter within, so make sure that you have clean and well-organized surroundings. Are you prone to hoarding stuff you don’t really need? Then perhaps it’s time to start a garage sale. Do you have difficulty remembering where you placed your scissors, staples, and letter opener? Then invest in drawer organizers. A place for everything and everything in its place can make life easier.

Know how to say “no.” Are you a pleaser? Do you find yourself saying yes to everything that you end up with no personal time? Then perhaps it’s best that you practice communicating your boundaries. Many personal development gurus argue that effective focus is as simple as learning to say “I can’t do that, sorry.”

Prioritize. It’s tempting to only do things that are easy, pleasant and rewarding. But giving in to the temptation is a surefire way of having urgent and important tasks pile up on your desk — causing you to feel confused and stressed-out. Make sure you know what tasks deserve your attention first — and start with them even if you don’t feel like it. Discipline is key to better focus.

Know your distractions. Each person has their own devil on their shoulder. Is yours logging on to a Social Networking site? How about turning on TV and having a soap opera marathon? If you know what things take away your focus from work that needs to be done, then you can come up with ways to avoid them.

Lastly, motivate yourself. You must be adept in the skill of inspiring yourself! It’s easy to get distracted when you feel forced into doing something you don’t want to do. Instead, think of the value of your contribution. Find your purpose. Consider everything as a calling. Psyching yourself can help you concentrate on the task at hand, and filter the noise and distraction in your head.