If you have trouble maintaining your focus and attention throughout the day, you’re not alone. But if you find that it gets in the way of a focused, productive workday, then it’s time to take action.
Here are some techniques and strategies you can employ to keep you on task when your focus and mind begin to wonder:
1. Remove Obvious Distractions
One of the amazing things about modern society is our ability to stay connected with everyone all the time. But that constant “connection” is often an incredible distraction, i.e., we check our work email incessantly, take quick peeks at our social media, or continually glance at our mobile device. Whenever possible, refrain from checking emails and set your phone aside for predetermined periods of time.
2. Handle Tedious Tasks Efficiently
Boring tasks can quickly become a distraction and lead to procrastination. Instead of doing them all at once, break them down into smaller increments, say, 15 minutes. Do something active when your time is up – like taking a brief walk around the office – to refresh your mind before digging in again.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Whether you didn’t get enough sleep the night before or suffer from a chronic, low-level lack of sleep, chances are your focus and attention become difficult to maintain. Moreover, sleepiness affects many other areas of your life – from decreasing your ability to learn and memorize things to causing an increase in irritability.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to help you get the right amount of sleep you need, whether it’s limiting your evening exposure to blue light that’s emitted by computers, TVs, smartphones, and iPads, to having a mattress that helps ensure proper rest. And, if you can get away with it, a short midday nap will help recharge your batteries.
4. Drink More Fluids
Studies show that even mild dehydration can lead to inattention. The amount of water – and other beverages – you should drink per day is 9 cups for women and 12.5 cups for men.
5. Visually organize your time and tasks
An excellent way to stay on task is to map your day by the hour and to review it frequently throughout the day. Doing so will help you pace your day and budget your time most effectively. It’s even more helpful to rank your list of tasks according to priority – with four or five levels of urgency – and then do those that are essential and time-sensitive early in the day or week when you’re mentally and physically fresh. Save the optional tasks for later.
6. Daily Meditation
Daily meditation sessions in which you concentrate on your breath build up your mind’s focus. In this type of meditation, you focus your mind on your breath while bringing it back to your breathing whenever it wanders. Some say it’s the mental equivalent of a gym workout.
Speaking of the gym, regular physical activity helps improve your attention and focus because it releases chemicals in the brain that boost learning and memory. It also provides a short-term boost that improves cognitive performance which makes it easier to focus while making you mentally sharper.