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Paying Attention: Our top tips for improving focus & concentration

In today’s fast paced world staying focused isn’t easy. The constant influx of information, digital distractions, and ever-increasing responsibilities make it challenging to give our undivided attention to our most important tasks. Sharpening your focus can be the key to a productive and successful day. In this blog I’d like us to examine the distractions that life throws at us and explore some ways to improve your focus and maximise your productivity. 

Setting Your Goals

Do you make new year’s resolutions? And if so, how many times have those resolutions been successful? Goal setting is an important step towards increasing your productivity and maintaining focus. The SMART method is a popular way of setting clear and achievable goals. Smart goal setting works on the following criteria:

Specific – Is your goal clear and well defined?

Measurable- can your goal be quantified?

Action oriented- what practical steps do you need to achieve your goal?

Realistic- how achievable is your goal?

Time bound – how long do you have to achieve your goal?

Setting realistic goals rather than unachievable ones helps to break down and compartmentalise your work, leaving your mind free to focus on the task at hand.

Learning to prioritise your goals is an important step towards being productive. Separate your tasks in order of time sensitivity and what actions you must undertake to do to achieve your goal. If there is a task you can’t complete, put it to the back of your priority list until it is achievable and work on some short term goals. Recognise when you are taking on too many tasks and take some time to reassess your workload. If you can’t get something done today, leave yourself a plan in place for tomorrow.

Optimise Your Daily Routine

Planning and routine are very prevalent when discussing focus and concentration. A well structured and efficient daily routine can help to promote focus and productivity. Learning to stick to a routine you plan yourself can improve time management, and help you understand your limitations. 

Listing the task you wish to achieve either on a daily or weekly basis can help you prioritise your time and consolidate your goals in one place. Be sure to allocate time in your day for resting in between tasks, as overworking can lead to lack of focus and decreased productivity. 

Prioritise your tasks in order of importance and how long they will take. Then work through your tasks one by one, focusing on each section of your day until the task is complete. This way of working can promote an uncluttered mind, making it easier for you to stay focused on the task at hand.

Minimising Distractions

When you are trying to focus and be productive, distractions are your worst enemy. This is why it’s important to identify potential distractions and avoid or eliminate them where possible. Some of the most common workplace distractions include: mobile phones, social media, email and the internet but distractions can come in many forms. 

Take some time to identify what distracts you from being productive and implement methods to minimise these distractions. Routine can play a big part in this. When planning your daily routine, make time for distractions. By allocating yourself ten minutes every few hours to check your mobile phone or answer emails, you can compartmentalise small tasks that will distract you, leaving you free to focus on what is important. 

During the pandemic many of us found themselves working from home and playing host to a whole range of new and exciting distractions. This is why creating a dedicated workspace can be key to maximising your efficiency whilst working in the office or from home. Use this dedicated workspace to block elements of life that may distract you. Finding a space where you can avoid disruptions and feel comfortable to work is a great first step towards achieving better focus and concentration.

Mindfulness and aiding your concentration 

Mindfulness, the practice of being present and self aware, can be key to achieving a greater level of focus. By training your mind to be aware of distractions you are on your first step to not being absorbed by these distractions and losing concentration. Mindfulness techniques such as meditative breathing, can provide a moment to step back from the pressures of the modern workplace and take a moment to assess how you feel. 

Mindfulness can work to counteract the oversaturation of digital media and information we absorb subconsciously throughout the day. By making time in your schedule to take your eyes off the computer screen or work, you avoid being plagued by racing or intrusive thoughts when you need to concentrate the most. Even turning off the notifications on your phone or devices can act as a form of mindfulness, allowing you to prioritise your thoughts and attain a greater level of focus throughout the day.

Single Tasking For Greater Efficiency

Psychiatrist Edward Hallowell defined multitasking as a “mythical activity in which people believe they can perform two or more tasks simultaneously as effectively as one”. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking isn’t a very productive way of working. Studies have shown numerous times that people are far better at performing single tasks sequentially than taking on several tasks at once. 

By focusing on a single task, you can minimise the distraction that comes with working on too many things at once. This can help to preserve energy which in turn can aid concentration and focus. By sticking to your routine and not being distracted till it’s completed you can achieve a better level of productivity, leaving yourself more free time for mindfulness and self care.

Conclusion

Improving concentration and focus is a process that requires time and dedication. By setting achievable goals, scheduling when and how you will complete them and minimising distractions you’ll leave yourself far more prepared to deal with the stresses of the modern day workplace. And an unstressed mind is perfect for achieving greater focus, concentration and achieving your goals. By implementing these tips I hope you find yourself on the right path to greater productivity and a more focused day.

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