If you’re like many creatives, you probably find yourself struggling with productivity. I know I do. Some days, it’s painfully difficult to get “into the zone” and start creating. And quite often, it’s not for lack of inspiration, but focus.
Maintaining focus is key to achieving the kind of productivity you strive for—and it’s something that’s become increasingly difficult in our distraction-plagued first world. I’ve already had to spend most of my morning fighting off Facebook and Instagram. If you’re anything like me, this is a daily struggle, and so I want to share a few tips I’ve been using to help enhance my focus.
Doing the Prep Work
It’s not always easy just to sit down and go straight to work. Sometimes it helps to prepare your mind and environment in order to really concentrate by
- Identifying distractions – such as your smartphone, social media, and other devices, as well as things like noise, interruptions, etc.
- Clearing out clutter – which can harm and even kill your creative flow. Taking a few minutes to tidy up can make a huge difference when it comes to your mood—and your focus.
- Creating a plan of action – so that you can intentionally set aside high-focus time to work on that book, essay, or project. Many times, things that don’t make it into your schedule simply don’t get done.
It’s amazing what just these three small steps can do to clear your mind. Now that you’re set up, it’s time to get to the hard work of creating—and staying focused.
7 Focus-Enhancing Tips to Boost Productivity
TIP #1: FIND THE RIGHT PLACE
After you’ve cleared your space of distractions; turned off your phone and closed social media, it’s time to get comfortable. Find yourself a good chair and desk, your couch, or the bar at a coffee shop—someplace you can settle in for a few hours and relax. Creating a stress-free environment is helpful for getting into the creative zone.
TIP #2: TURN ON SOME BACKGROUND NOISE
If you’re like me, you may find silence to be a little too dense for focus at times. A bit of background noise can be helpful, such as some soft coffee shop jazz, or inspirational soundtracks. Even rain can help set the mood for maximum focus.
TIP #3: STAY HYDRATED
According to this article from Time, studies have been done that show a link between hydration and focus. Keeping a bottle of water handy while you’re working can help to keep your mind on high-alert and ready to create.
TIP #4: KEEP HEADPHONES HANDY
If you’re going to be working in an unfamiliar or noisy environment, be sure to pack some headphones. You can use them to listen to background noise of your choice, or just to block the noise around you. Plus, headphones are a great little “do not disturb” sign to help keep interruptions at bay.
TIP #5: MAKE SURE YOU’RE GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
Lack of sleep is one of the biggest culprits behind lack of focus. According to WebMD, not getting enough sleep can wreck havoc on your cognitive function, work performance, and mood. If you’re getting less than six hours of sleep, it may be time to change your bedtime habits.
TIP #6: SAY “NO” TO INTERRUPTIONS
Throughout the day, interruptions and distractions will inevitably arise and it’s important that you fight them if you want to protect your focus. As Steve Jobs so aptly put it: “Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” This, perhaps, is the true secret to maintaining focus in a distraction-ridden world.
TIP #7: TAKE BREAKS
This may seem contradictory, but taking breaks is important—so long as you are intentional about it. Don’t let distractions dictate your breaks. Instead, plan a time to withdraw and rejuvenate on your own. If you’ve been working for an hour, take a few minutes to rest—but be careful not to let distractions suck you into their clutches. Make sure you get back to work on time.
Employing these strategies can be a struggle, but I’ve certainly found them to be helpful in my own life. So today I want to challenge you to pick at least two areas where you can work on enhancing your focus, then leave a comment about your results!
- Do you struggle with staying focused during the day?
- What do you think are your primary distractions on a day-to-day basis?
- Do you have any focus-enhancing tips you’d like to share?