As you saunter out of the party that was the weekend and are hit by the blinding light of a new week while your eyes struggle to focus… you better have brought your shades. Alright we are slightly dramatizing but focus is a daily calling, a basic skill that needs to be fueled to conquer procrastination, organize your thoughts and get the work done as efficiently as possible.
Even though the plain and simple truth to great focus is really enough rest, a healthy diet and regular exercise, we believe there are alternative punch lines. So here are some effective and helpful tips to revive your focus at work, play or even at home.
1. Drown Out The Little Noises
Message alerts and push notifications – these little things that constantly jerk you awake from concentration actually disengage your brain’s focus, and it can take you up to 15 minutes to regain focus all over again. Put your alerts on silent when you’re handling an urgent task. Schedule a time to answer e-mails and reply messages. Make it known or make prior arrangements with people if you don’t want to be disturbed – this is especially important if you have a full inbox to tackle.
2. Play With Yourself
In the game or competition context, that is. Turn your tasks into a different kind of challenge, with a time limit and a reward to inject some thrill into work. Set a timer for every task you need to complete and create a simple rule for how you should be rewarded. A trip to the pantry for a snack if you send out all urgent e-mails by 3pm, five minutes to read a magazine or check your favorite website if you complete your report in an hour, or head home 10 minutes earlier if you manage to wrap up the team meeting in half-an-hour.
3. Pick An Instrumental Soundtrack
Music on your headphones doesn’t just block out noise, but can also lull you into a state of focus. But as much as you love a certain band or artist – avoid music with lyrics. You’d think that the words would eventually fade into the background, but your brain will still process the data and hinder it from prioritizing the task at hand. Mellow or ambient instrumental music works best. Another thing that works best is using headphones with no music on to build a hypothetical wall between your mind and outside interference. No one will know. Try it ;)
4. Take Five. Or Ten. Even Fifteen.
It’s important to take breaks in between continuous work to let your brain rest and review its recordings. The average concentration span amongst adults is only 20 minutes, although Inspiration Feed recommends a 15-minute break every two hours. We say it depends on the nature and weight of your task. Take a short walk outside. Make a quick trip to the convenient store downstairs. The point is to reward yourself with these small breaks throughout the day and use them to refresh your mind and body – don’t make it a norm to be rooted to your chair and miss out on some fresh air at lunch time.
5. Change The Scenery
If work allows it, take work elsewhere to change your visual perspective, like to a park or a cafe. It doesn’t have to be one overlooking the French Riviera, it can be as simple as shifting to the lobby – so long as you don’t feel confined to the same walls or cubicle. This can increase your productivity and creativity. These locations may still be bustling with life and chatter, but they’ll soon become “white noise” as they are environments to which you don’t feel personally or emotionally involved.
6. Write Your To-Do List
The pen is mightier than the keyboard. According to The Wall Street Journal, the hand has a unique relationship with the brain when it comes to composing thoughts and ideas. While typing involves the simple touch of a key, writing activates a much larger portion of the brain’s thinking. A list on paper is easier to edit, doesn’t require much formatting, and locks down your thoughts in place, ready to be accessed nearby instead of hiding behind a window on your computer. Besides, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as striking off an item with a pen…
7. Wake Up With A Healthy Snack
There are healthier and tastier options to that needed perk of energy as you battle the 3-4pm wind-down; besides coffee, soda or candy. Foods high in caffeine and refined sugar will wake you up instantly, yes, but like the malice of false hope, puts you down again with added lethargy. Opt for fruit such as grapes, berries or a banana, or snack on a handful of nuts like almonds and pistachios. If you have a sweet tooth, bite into organic dark chocolate, honeyed granola or sip on coconut water – just don’t succumb to the office biscuit tin doing its usual rounds.
Do you have other suggestions on improving focus aside from what we listed? Share your tips with us – we’re always looking for more ways to better our work hats!