On Tuesday, we talked about a technique using short periods of focused time to get things done. If you want to learn about that technique, you can find Tuesday's post here.
But what if you are unable to stay focused even for short periods of time. Maybe you constantly have your laundry list of to dos running through your head. Maybe you have constant interruptions from your kids or spouse. Maybe you have so many important things to do, you try to get them all done at once.
Whatever the cause, lack of focus can really hold you back from your goals, cause you to waste time, and prevent you from getting to the things you really want to do.
Below are some tips to help you stay focused on the task at hand so that you can actually check things off your list and reach your goals.
1. Get the Word Out
When you are planning to work on a specific project or task that requires your full attention, put it on the calendar. Set aside a certain time to work on the project. Then let people know that you will be unreachable at that time.
Ask your spouse to take the kids out, stay off social media, put your phone on sleep mode. You can let your friends and family know that you are working on something important to you and ask that they not reach out to you during that time or let them know that they may not get an immediate response.
When you need to get something done, make sure the people around you know. They won't know not to interrupt you if you never tell them you need that time.
2. Find a Distraction Free Spot
Different people work well in different situations. Find out what works for you and create that situation for yourself.
Some people love to work in coffee shops. Others get totally distracted by all the movement and conversations around them. Some people need silence, while others enjoy soft music.
Some people can get to work in their home office, while others get distracted by all the cleaning and chores that need to get done in the rest of the house.
Pay attention to what environment you work best in and either go there, or create it for yourself.
3. Keep a Notepad
One of the biggest distractions we have are the brilliant ideas that we come up with. We are smart and resourceful and we come up with great ideas, and projects, and goals. However, when we are in the middle of one project, those ideas can totally derail our progress.
Instead of jumping on each new idea, when inspiration strikes, make a note about it. Instead of letting our minds focus on the new idea, write it down with enough detail to jog your memory of the idea then get back to the project at hand.
This allows you to keep track of your new ideas but not let them slow the progress of your current project.
4. Eat More Healthy Fats
The human brain is made up of roughly 60% fat. That's pretty crazy. This means that in order to encourage proper brain function, we need to be eating healthy fats. I am aware that this goes against all of the low fat marketing.
However, your brain needs lots of good fat to function properly. Thus, one of the best ways to quickly improve cognitive function and therefore your focus, is to get more healthy fats into your diet. Nuts, avocados, eggs, and coconut oil are all awesome fats to incorporate into your diet to help your brain work better.
5. Get More Sleep
Getting the right amount of sleep is one of the most important contributors to healthy brain function. Along with proper nutrition, sleep has the biggest impact on our overall health which includes clear thinking. It's even more important than exercise.
Now I know that as a mom, sleep isn't always easy to come by. However, it is so very important to maximize our sleep time. Go to bed without distractions including social media and email. Set a bed time and stick to it. Make sleep a priority.
If you have to chose between a full 7 hours of sleep and a morning workout, choose the sleep. Sleep is when your brain and body rejuvenates and heals. Don't short change yourself. You will totally feel the difference.
6. Exercise in the Morning
That said, if you do have time in the morning, definitely spend some time exercising. It doesn't have to be long and it doesn't have to be super intense. Just get your body moving.
You can take a brisk walk, do some weight lifting, maybe a workout DVD. Maybe you just like to do some cardio while listening to a podcast. Thats a great multitask where you can do something for your brain and your body.
Exercising in the morning gives you energy for your day. It brings mental clarity. It raises yourself esteem and self worth. It is a mood booster. You can take just 20 minutes to get your heart rate up and feel the effects for the whole day.
7. Set Mini Daily Goals
Each day have a focus for what you want to accomplish that day. While you might have a million things to get done, choose the things that will be your focus for that day.
You should have no more than 3 things on this list. These are your major tasks for the day. By focusing only on what needs to be accomplished in any one given day, you will set yourself up for success.
Achieving small daily goals will wire your brain for success and trigger the reward mechanism, releasing dopamine when you accomplish your goal. Your body will crave that feeling, which will help you stay focused for tomorrow's goal as well.
Clearly, getting focus takes work and practice. However, the more we practice, the better we will become. There are way too many distractions in this day and age. But by setting up our bodies and our environment to remove distractions and promote brain health, we can focus on whatever task lies before us.
What hacks do you use to increase focus? Let me know in the comments.