There are lots of demands on your time and attention, and these get in the way of you being able to do your job, or more importantly, the creative things that bring you passion. How can you manage your focus and your attention better? Here are some ideas.
- Unplug from the Internet– Not just kill your email, but shut down your browser capability as well. This will keep you on the desktop if your task is computer-based.
- Visual Reminders– Use a cork board or white board and put your primary focus requirements there in HUGE letters. Use dark markers and bold text to ensure that when your eyes drift from your main function, you have a visual reminder of what you’ve gotta complete.
- Use Milestones– You know those thermometer billboards people use for fund raising, the kind you see out front of the new library or church? Use a similar visual cue to remind yourself just how far you have to go to complete your task.
- Headphones– If you have to focus in a work environment, throw the old iPod on. Listen to whatever it is gives you focus. For me, that’s podcasts. I’m not sure why, but someone talking in my ear while I work is more relaxing than music.
- Post a Sign– Stick a sign up near your desk saying, “I’m busy right now. Catch me later?” or something similar. I’ve used this often. You get lots of weird looks, but most people respect your need for a “virtual closed door.”
- Look Up– Focusing sometimes requires us to close out all external sources for a moment to draw from our heads what it is we’re working on. Try looking up towards the ceiling, as if you’re looking into your own skull. (I don’t know why, but this seems to work well).
- Short Bursts– Sometimes nothing works. Try getting through the next five minutes only, and then promising yourself a quick trip back and forth to the water cooler or the coffee machine. When you get back to your desk, promise yourself another 10 minute burst. And so on. Incremental steps can sometimes get something big accomplished.
- Scatter shot– Another variation on the bursts theme is to hit lots of little things all over your task list, aiming specifically at the things you’ve just been neglecting for no real reason.
- Know when to Quit– Sometimes, it’s just not the right time to try and focus. Take a full-on break from what you’re doing. Give yourself permission to get up and leave the area. Go. And let your energy come back to you. This sometimes helps to relieve pressures that you’re not even fully aware exist.
What are some of YOUR focus tricks?
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