How to Focus in a Crazy Busy World

Ask anyone how they’re doing and you’ll most likely get a response like ‘I’m crazy busy’.  In today’s fast-paced world we’re expected to do more in less time!  Not only are we expected to do more, we’re also dealing with a lot more information today, and with all that busyness going around it’s getting harder and harder to focus on the important stuff.

Last week I covered the topic of multitasking and how it’s affecting our productivity (in a negative way); this week I have some tips to help you boost your focus.

Focus is more important than intelligence


5 Tips that Boost Focus

  1. Have a Goal.  If you don’t know what your goals are, how do you know what you’re supposed to be doing?  By having a goal (big or small) it’s easier to maintain focus on accomplishing that goal.
  2. Organize Your Space.  Having a messy or even busy workspace is distracting.  By clearing your space you’ll have less distractions.  That doesn’t mean you need to have an über organized workspace, just one that you’re comfortable in – it’s all about You!  Tip:  Less is better.
  3. Brain Dump.  Stop trying to remember everything – always have a (paper or digital) notebook to jot down notes or stuff you need to remember.  By clearing your headspace, you’ll have more space to focus on the important stuff.  My favorite tool for this is my Evernoteit’s with me wherever I go!  
  4. Focus Time.  If you’re like me, once you start working on something you go non-stop and that’s not always a good thing.  Studies have shown that it’s important to take breaks throughout the day.  In his book ‘The way we’re working isn’t working‘, Tony Schwartz recommends doing three 90-minute laser focus sessions throughout the day and taking in between breaks.  Another great technique is the Pomodoro Technique where you set short focus times with intermittent breaks throughout the day:  Start your timer for a specific amount of time and get to work – focusing only on that one task at hand – once the timer goes off you get a certain amount of time to take a break – use this time to get off your chair and do something different (go for a walk, meditate, stretch, do something creative, …)  Once the timer goes off again, it’s time to get to work.  Just look up Pomodoro timers in the app store.  I’ve used the Pomodoro Timer app and like it – even though their recommended 15-minute focus sessions are too short for me – I adjust them to my workstyle, which is more like 45-minute focus time sessions.  Try it out and see what works best for you!
  5. TIO!  Turn it off!  When working on important projects make sure you turn off any distractions on your…
    • Phone:  Put it on silent for a while – you can return calls and messages later.
    • Email:  Unless your project depends on it, turn off email notifications – or better yet, shut it off completely – the emails can wait!   Remember, emails are typically other people’s priorities – get your stuff done first, then worry about the everyone else’s stuff.
    • Social Media:  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, … they’re all screen suckers!  Limit the amount of times you go into social media – go in twice or three times a day and set a limit on the amount of time you stay there.  If you’re still having a hard time getting off social media:  There are apps on the market that will only allow you to be on certain sites for so long.  Tip:  Avoid temptation and turn off notifications for your social media not disturb
    • Shut the door:  Do you work at an office or at home where others can just barge in?  Close the door and put up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.
    • Your TV.  I’ve been guilty of this – watching TV while working on a project – and this is a huge distraction!  Rather than taking 30 minutes to finish a particular task, you’ll spend 90 minutes getting that same task done – and most likely not nearly as good (see my blog on multitasking & productivity).

Still having a hard time focusing on that project?  Walk away!  Sometimes all it takes is to walk away – go do something fun or start something else and come back to this later – or better yet, tomorrow.  Sometimes all it takes is to take a break and walk away – you’ll feel refreshed and focused to get it done!

Do you have any tips that help you stay focused?  Please share!