We all have parts of our life that demand our total attention and focus in order to either finish a project or to deliver excellence. Everybody also has distractions. Mine comes in the form of anything and everything that I can think of. The more important the task that I am facing, the easier the distractions seem to show up in my life.
The good news is, there are certain things we can do to combat distractions and set ourselves up to be focused.The most important thing to realize is that you must prepare up front in order to be successful in your attempt to focus. You can’t just hope everything falls into place. In order to really focus you must be intentional.
Here’s a list of 7 steps I usually try to implement to set myself up for success and you can use to increase your focus.
- Sleep. A good nights sleep is going to help keep your energy up and allow you to be your most alert self. Getting a good amount of sleep allows you to have a better mood and more creative energy. I find that not getting a good nights sleep sets me up for failure in the area of focus.
- Eat. You always hear that you should start your day with a healthy breakfast. Much of my life I skipped breakfast. In the last few years I have changed that habit and have seen a huge increase in my focus and energy in the morning hours. I also make sure that I always have a healthy snack of some sort close to me when I am really needing to focus. I will use anything as an excuse to break my focus, so by keeping a snack at my desk or in my book bag I have one less excuse.
- Headphones. I would love to have a noise canceling headphone but for now I have a nice Sony over-the-ear headphone. Over the ear is key to me. This allows you to block out as much noise as you can. I keep these by my desk but also have regular apple headphones I keep in my book bag. Sometimes I play music and sometimes nothing at all but it still allows me to cut out some noise.
- Music. When I choose to listen to music to focus, it has to be music that doesn’t have words. I tend to sing along and lose focus if I listen to songs I know. Last year I was reading an article on focus and came across a program to help with music. Of course you could always make a playlist in Spotify but I started using a program called Focus At Will. I use it only when I need to be totally focused. I don’t listen to it other wise. This is intentional to help train myself to focus every time I listen to this style of music. The acoustic setting is my favorite.
- Timer. I use a timer as a goal for how long I should try to focus. Focus at Will has a built-in timer that I use. I find that knowing there is a stopping point coming helps me give my full attention.
- Shut off Everything. In today’s world of Facebook, twitter, Instagram…the list goes on…distractions seem to be mounting more and more each day. So when I need to focus I will do one last check of everything I feel I need and then shut it all down. I even have to turn my apple watch into do-not-disturb mode sometimes. 🙂
- Name Your Goal. Finally I write down my goal and put this somewhere that I can see it. This helps me visualize what I need to focus on or why I need to stay focused. I don’t write down my goal every time I need to focus but I have found that with long-term goals, things I won’t finish in one sitting, this is a huge proponent to winning for me.
I am sure that I could add a few things to this list but these are the main rocks that I set in place to keep me on task. What additional things do you do to set yourself up for success?