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3 Ways To Focus When You’re Tempted To Slack

Staying focused, as we all know, is hard at the best of times, but when we’re doing things that we wouldn’t normally choose to do, it’s even harder. Here are 3 ways to focus when you’re tempted to slack, from which I’ve excerpted the third point as I don’t think there’s enough emphasis on this. I’m a prime example of someone who attempts to focus on one thing for too long, and then wonder why my concentration wavers after 20 minutes – if indeed I manage that long. We all have different concentration spans, but this is great advice:

Set A Timer To FocusStep #3: Work in Short Bursts
Nobody can focus for hours at a time – in fact, most people can only concentrate intensely for around 25 – 45 minutes. Try to work in short bursts, with brief breaks in between.

So that you stay on track, set a timer going. I like Tick Tock Timer, but there are plenty of others you can try, like e.ggtimer. Start off with 30 minutes, and see whether that seems about right for you.

While the timer is running, you should stay focused on the task at hand. 

As soon as the timer goes off (even if you haven’t finished the task), stop. Take a quick break to grab a glass of water, stretch your legs, look at webcomics, or whatever you want to do. Then set the timer again, and start back on your task.

(You might find that it’s helpful to time your breaks, too, if you struggle with getting back to your work.)

If it’s not easy or appropriate for you to take a break from your work, then try switching between high-focus and lower-focus tasks. For instance, you might spend 30 minutes working on your big presentation for next week, then spend 15 minutes answering emails, and so on.

Read all the steps here

If you read all of the 3 ways to focus when you’re tempted to slack, you’ll have also read about the importance of goal setting and removing distractions.  Since these were recent posts, I decided not to highlight these points, although they’re clearly of paramount importance. I think using a timer to focus on one task for a certain length of time is a great idea.  Literally remove all other distractions and focus on that one task until your timer sounds. You can then reward yourself!


Ways To Focus In A World Of Distractions

This must be one of my favourite articles to date, partly because some excellent brains have been cited, such as Steve Jobs, Evan Williams (co-founder of Twitter) and Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Asana and Facebook.

You may have come across the term, ‘mindfulness’ when reading through this site. It basically means bringing all of our attention to the present moment, rather than focusing on the past or future – which is surprisingly where our minds are mostly, according to Soren Gordhamer who has written this insightful post for Mashable.  Read on to discover ways to focus in a world of distractions.

Ways To Focus In A World Of Distractions

According to David E. Meyer, director of the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan, when people try to perform two or more related tasks either at the same time or alternating rapidly between them, errors go way up…

….To access our mindfulness, we need to be as skilled at emptying our mind as we are at filling it. When I asked Padmasree Warrior, CTO of Cisco, how she keeps balance and focus amidst so much responsibility, she says she meditates for twenty minutes a day no matter where she is in the world. “This clears my mind, keeps me anchored, and calm while dealing with [the] multiple challenges of my hectic days,” she says.

Once again, among these ways to focus in a world of distractions, we read that meditation is a great method to clear your mind, and thus to focus.  I also appreciated the part about doing less to achieve more, not because I’m lazy, but because attempting to do too many things at once, or multitasking, ends up being must less productive than focusing on one task at a time.

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