Most of us have been through a whirlwind of toing and froing from the office and adjusting to the work from home lifestyle. For many, including us, this has resulted in reflection on what really makes a work space and how we focus no matter where we are. Here at Alix Digital HQ we are back in the office and loving it. Together creativity flows, ideas bounce off the walls and collaboration is at its best, however there have been some key takeaways learnt from taking our workload elsewhere and finding focus in our minds rather than in our surroundings. The following tips can be used to increase your focus, ability to concentrate and overall productivity wherever you are.
Take One Task At A Time
Although multitasking can make us feel like we are on a roll, ticking jobs off left, right and centre, the reality is that we can sometimes be spreading ourselves too thin. Carrying out multiple activities at the same time can result in lower focus, poor concentration, and lower productivity, ultimately leading to burnout and a lower quality end result.
Instead, start your day with a to- do list and make sure you have assigned time for everything you want to achieve that day. Mark out the time each job will take and allow yourself small breaks in between to debrief from one task before moving onto the next. Unavoidable things will always pop up out of the blue with urgent priority, but as a rule, planning out your day and dedicating time to each task one at a time can keep you feeling productive and on top of your workload as well as in control of your attention and ability to produce high quality work.
Choose Where You Want To Focus Your Mind
This may sound silly when you are struggling to concentrate, but ultimately you have the power to choose what you focus on. Without having this discipline you can drown in your thoughts, replaying the past or worry about the future.
Instead, try and get into the habit of acknowledging your thoughts and then letting them go. If they are that important, they will come back up again when you have the time and space to address them. This is easier said than done I admit but not allowing your mind to wander can be crucial in avoiding useless distractions. To work on this skill, carry out some mindfulness exercises to train your mind to find focus from within.
Use Music To Your Advantage
There are tools available to us which can help in aiding concentration and focus. One of which being music specifically created to improve concentration. Music can provide therapeutic effects on the brain and natural sounds such as bird song or running water can help to relax the mind, increasing clarity and focus.
There are also songs with certain frequencies and notes that have been proven to increase focus, now available through apps such as Spotify and online sources such as youtube. If you struggle to work in silence this may be the answer for you. Stay away however, from music that may cause distraction, like anything with human voices and catchy lyrics that you can’t resist singing along to!
Get Time On Your Side
Another tool that can be used to retain hyper focus is a simple timer. One technique that has been proven to be useful is the 20-5 rule. This requires you to set a 20 minute timer in which to fully focus on your task at hand and then finish with a 5 minute break to stretch your legs or get some fresh air before starting with another 20 minutes of work.
Research has shown that our brains tend to ignore sources of constant stimulation. Taking a quick break combates this problem and leaves you feeling refreshed and able to tackle your next 20 minutes with more motivation. Don’t however take a break longer than 10 minutes as this will have the opposite effect allowing your brain to wind down and interrupting your flow.
Make A Plan Of Action
Not only does writing a to-do list help with time management, but it also keeps you focused on what you need to get done and allows you to prioritize your tasks. When making a plan for your day ahead, including everything that you need to get done, in priority order. This way you can make your way through the list one task at a time and before you know it you have ticked everything off.
It is also best to prioritize not only the most pressing deadline but also the biggest task. You will feel accomplished once you have got the biggest task out the way and you can then move onto the smaller and less overwhelming tasks with ease and a boost in your motivation.
To Sum Up…
Ultimately it comes down to limiting your distractions and your ability to focus your mind on your work. Frequent distractions affect your productivity and cause the task at hand to take far longer, dragging out the process and causing frustration as well as taking time away from further jobs you need to do.
It also interrupts your thought process, disturbing your understanding and decreasing your ability to complete the task well. Distractions also affect your ability to recall information which reduces your ability to learn and affects your professional image.
Give these tips a go the next time you are struggling to concentrate and you’ll be sure to get the job done and produce work you are proud of.