Whether you work from home or in an office where you’re surrounded by coworkers, it can sometimes be difficult to stay focused on the task at hand. We struggle to combat the distractions we encounter and we fall victim to habits that completely derail our productivity. Not to mention, we’re all guilty of letting our minds drift away from the work we should be paying attention to. So, how can we fix this tricky situation? To help you out, we’re sharing five simple ways to instantly regain your focus during the day. These tips will help you stay concentrated on the work you need to get done so you can check more things off your to-do list.
1. Create lists of your tasks.
Are you currently someone who makes lists every day to keep track of all the things she needs to get done? If not, this is a habit you need to adopt right now. When you have so much stuff that you need to do and you rely on being able to just remember it all, it becomes a distraction. You’ll continue to stop and remind yourself, “Oh, I need to take care of that task today.” That’s not productive and it just clutters your mind since you become so preoccupied with remembering it.
Instead of relying on your memory to remind you of the tasks on your to-do list, take a few minutes each morning to jot them down. You can write them on paper or save them in a to-do list app on your phone. You’re then able to prioritize your list by noting which tasks are the most important. When your list contains all those important tasks, you won’t have to worry about remembering them all day long and you can instead focus on accomplishing one task at a time.
2. Stay hydrated and eat brain foods.
If you’re having trouble staying focused, ask yourself if you’re drinking enough water throughout the day. Are you consuming the daily recommended amount? If not, fill up a glass of water and keep it on your desk. It will serve as a constant reminder to keep your body hydrated.
There are also plenty of brain foods you can eat if you need to regain your focus. Try snacking on avocados, blueberries, broccoli, or even some dark chocolate. Yes, you have permission to eat a piece of chocolate during the day! These foods can help improve alertness and boost your concentration, which is just what you need to stay focused on your work.
3. Eliminate the inbox distractions.
It’s safe to say that people are kind of addicted to their email inboxes these days. We have access to our emails on our phones and we’re guilty of leaving that Gmail tab open in our browser all day long. And it should come as no surprise that when we see that inbox number increase or when we hear that constant pinging of our phones, we often drop whatever we’re doing to check our latest emails.
When we fall into the trap of checking emails every single time a new one comes through, it’s just not productive. It distracts us from the task we were previously working on and it takes a moment for our brains to refocus when we switch back to the original task. (That’s why it’s not good to multitask!) To help you avoid the inbox distractions, turn off the notifications on your phone while you work. Close the inbox tab in your browser. Instead, you should set dedicated times for checking email throughout the day. (There are exceptions for those times when you’re impatiently waiting for an urgent email.)
When you avoid giving into your inbox every time a new email arrives, you’ll be able to stay focused during the day. Another great tip is to clean up your inbox and unsubscribe from all those newsletters you just don’t read. There’s no reason to have them cluttering your inbox every day.
4. Create a digital junk drawer.
Odds are, you have a drawer somewhere in your office that’s just filled with clutter. It houses all the items that don’t have a designated home so you can keep them out of sight. Well, have you ever thought that sometimes your brain can accumulate the same kind of mental clutter? It absolutely can! When you have so many thoughts going through your mind and you’re always trying to remember them, it quickly becomes an overload. So, you need to find a place to store those thoughts and ideas.
Create your own digital junk drawer where you can essentially brain dump all of the ideas that come up for you. You can create a Word document or even an Evernote notebook that allows you to house all of those random thoughts. It’ll be reassuring to know that they’re there waiting for you whenever you’re ready to review them.
You could, of course, use a physical notebook for this, but the whole point is to cut down on the physical clutter around you as well. You don’t want to add more papers to chaos to your desk, do you? Plus, when it’s a digital file, you can easily do a search to find the information you’re looking for.
The reason this is so effective is that having to remember all of those ideas will no longer take up the valuable mental space you need. And when those ideas are safely stored away, you can regain your focus on the tasks you should actually be concentrating on.
5. Automate some of your daily tasks.
Have you ever wondered if there was an easier way to get things done? Have you ever wished you had someone to help you out with the repetitive tasks on your to-do list? If so, you aren’t alone. We could all use an extra hand from time to time. However, not all of us have the budget to pay a personal assistant to handle those tasks. The good news is, there are many that you can actually automate to save you time and allow you to regain your focus on what’s actually important.
Use a tool like Zapier, which allows you to automate tasks between web applications. It connects to apps like Gmail, Trello, Google Calendar, Slack, MailChimp, social media platforms, and many others to give you the opportunity to automate some of the simpler tasks on your to-do list. Although it’s not completely automated, you can also create canned responses in Gmail to send to people when you receive the same question on a regular basis. It’s a sure-fire way to cut down on the time you spend on these tasks so you can get back to what’s most important.