Staying focused on a single task is not easy, especially when you’re constantly working in an environment filled with distraction. And because how accessible the internet has made everything to us, distractions are but a single click away.
So how do you develop a practice of focus and concentrate on a single task for whatever time it takes you to complete it? This article discusses some practical steps you can apply right away to improve your focus. But before we delve in, keep in mind that these are merely guidelines. It will take a lot of hard work on your part to actually practice focus.
1. Remove distractions
This might seem to be the most obvious step, but it’s also the most essential. So many people often underestimate the power of distractions. They like to delude themselves that they are strong and can work in the face of distractions. But don’t fool yourself into believing that.
No matter whether you work in the office or at home, the first step t developing a practice of focus is to eliminate all distractions. This can be as simple as turning off the television or radio and keeping your phone in flight mode. If the distractions bothering you are mental, you might need to calm down and take a few moments to meditate.
This will help you calm your tumultuous thoughts and prepare to concentrate on the task at hand.
2. Only focus on one task at a time
Whie it might seem like multitasking can help you get more work done, several research studies have proven that the human mind is incapable of multitasking. What we perceive as performing multiple tasks at the same time is actually our brain rapidly switching between two tasks, lowering our efficacy at both.
Don’t trick yourself into believing that you’re efficient at multitasking. Only focus on one task at a time to improve your results.
3. Practice mindfulness
When you’re mindful of your body, your thoughts, and your surroundings, you’ll find it easier to concentrate on the task at hand. This will also help you live in the present and not worry too much about the future which is ultimately anyway out of your control.
4. Take short breaks
Taking short breaks in between tasks will prevent you from getting burnt out. It will also keep you motivated to only focus on the job while you’re working, because your brain knows that it can treat itself to any distraction of its choice during the break hours.
A good solution here is to use the Pomodoro technique. The key concept behind this technique is the idea of “time boxing”. You might have faced a situation when you know you’re wasting time, but even then find it hard to stop what you’re doing and get back to work. The time wasted on the meaningless task keeps getting longer and longer, and the task that’s the most important on your list keeps getting pushed farther and farther down your list of things to do.
This is where the Pomodoro technique comes in.
The concept is simple: you work in blocks of time (usually twenty five minutes), interspersed with breaks where you can recharge.
Because you have those short breaks of five minutes strewn in so generously, you can get more work done in a short time. This helps you achieve more without feeling burned out.
5. Be consistent
The first few days while developing a practice of focus might be hard, but the important part is to keep practicing. Things will get easier with time, and you can get better and better at concentrating on one task for long as you keep working.
To keep yourself accountable to your new habit, you can download a habit tracker that lets you mark the days on the calendar where you successfully managed to stay focused on your target task without losing concentration. A long streak of days marked on the calendar will motivate you to keep going and push yourself harder.
You can also hire an accountability coach. These are trained individuals who will hold you accountable to your new habit of developing a practice of focus and help you stay on track. Having an expert by your side will motivate you to keep pushing yourself even if you fall off the wagon for a few days.