There are very few things that are more frustrating than knowing what you have to do, trying to do it, and not being able to. Typically, this inability to complete tasks comes down to one thing: focus. One’s ability to focus is a surefire indicator of future success. If focus is lacking, it’s unlikely that you will be able to get much of anything done during the day no matter how long you stare at your to-do list. Despite this, it sometimes feels like absolutely nothing is able to help you get your focus to where it needs to be. Wrong! There is a multitude of ways to climb your way to a focused and productive mindset. Here are 6 of our favorite ones.
Start each morning with exercise
Not only does exercising first thing in the morning give you the benefits of exercising as is, but it’s known to be a surprisingly effective way to boost your productivity throughout the day. Even just a quick 20-minute session can have a lasting effect. The initiation of blood flow in your body gets your creativity sparked and your wheels turning so you’re ready for a productive and focused day. Make it fun for yourself and pick something that you genuinely enjoy doing, whether this is going for a walk, swimming, running, or even yoga.
Set small daily goals
Set yourself up for success by looking away from the big, daunting tasks and taking it one step at a time. Pick a few smaller tasks that you can realistically complete in one day and write it all down in the morning. Each goal that you achieve and get to cross off of your list releases dopamine, which is part of your brain’s reward system. This wires your brain to enjoy and encourage your productivity, leading to improved focus.
Write out your critical tasks each hour
Writing out your key tasks by the hour is a surefire way to refocus your brain towards the tasks at hand in case you deviate from your daily goals. Take five minutes every hour to write out the tasks you would like to accomplish in the next hour and then time yourself until each one is completed. Timing yourself helps to provide a sense of urgency that encourages you to work quickly and efficiently.
Get plenty of sleep
It’s common knowledge that not getting a good night’s sleep can have detrimental effects on the following day. Getting as much sleep as possible (ideally 8 hours) sets you up to feel refreshed and ready for a productive day of work when you wake up in the morning. Additionally, try waking up at the same time every day. Human brains love routine. When your brain is used to rising at the same time every morning, it will be more apt to function to the best of its ability sooner after you wake up.
We all know how hard it is to put our phones aside, especially when you’re working. If you do not need your phone, we suggest putting it on Airplane mode, Do Not Disturb, and placing it in a drawer somewhere in order to avoid any and all temptation to check it. However, if you do need your phone, we suggest disabling notifications, placing it somewhere that is away from you but still at arm’s reach, and checking it every 30-45 minutes. Going offline to the best of your ability is a fantastic way to fully concentrate on the task at hand. Author David Rock was able to write four books during several flights to Australia and back due to a lack of interruptions. Imagine what you could do for your business with that kind of distraction-less time!
Take a break
If anybody knows how difficult it is at times to take a break from work, it’s small business owners. Our work is everything to us, so it’s incredibly challenging to take a step away from it when it feels like you should be busy at every second. However, it’s been proven that taking intermittent breaks can actually improve your focus and productivity. We recommend the Pomodoro Technique, which is as follows:
- Decide what you would like to work on.
- Set the Pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
- Work on the task you previously chose.
- Stop working when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
- If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes) and then return to step 2; otherwise continue to step 6.
- After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.