Are You Ready to Achieve More In Less Time in 2018? With Becky Auer
Tips and Techniques To Improve Your Concentration and Achieve More
Every year our attention span goes down. People joke that they’ve developed attention deficit disorders as adults that they never had as children. Lord knows I feel that way a lot!
We’re having more and more difficulty focusing on one thing at a time. And when we do start to focus, something else –whether it’s a text coming in or your email dinging – pulls us away.
Doesn’t it seem like everyone’s always busy, but no one seems to be able to get enough done!
If you’re working with entrepreneurs or small business owners, you’ll know that a lack of focus is a huge issue. Those who are able to cut out the noise and concentrate on one thing at a time have the biggest success.
The average attention span in the year 2000 was 12 seconds. By 2015, it shrunk to 8.25.
Are you still with me? Please, take your nose out of your smartphone for just a few minutes more…
Yes, I joke about how electronics and instant gratification have shortened our attention spans to that of a gnat, but it’s really no joke at all. We’re all logging into our social media accounts and then forgetting what it was we were going to do there.
It’s Time To Take Back Control
It’s not your fault that you can’t listen to more than ten seconds of a YouTube video before checking out the suggested videos on the sidebar. The reason behind the Incredibly Shrinking Attention Span is that we’re bombarded with distractions. We used to turn things off but now we live in a world of 24-hour mindless entertainment and breaking news.
Tips and Techniques to Improve Your Focus at Work
By making just a few lifestyle changes, you can make improvements in your concentration and focus. Sometimes it just takes forming a new habit and you’ll see results immediately.
You probably know many of the techniques that I’ll mention here. They’re good reminders, and since I don’t want you to get distracted before you finish this article, I created ‘bullets’ so you can get through them quickly! You may know these tips and techniques but just don’t use them. When you figure out how important they can be in boosting focus and concentration you’ll want to use one, if not all of them.
- Regular exercise improves focus and concentration
- At least three times a week is suggested
- More frequent, more moderate exercise can have an even more pronounced effect
- Don’t kill yourself with exercise, but DO some
- Get unplugged
- Disconnecting for a set period each day will help you stay focused
- Do something that isn’t tech-related
- Take breaks
- Take a break at least once per hour
- Stand up and move around
- Take short breaks before you feel tired
- Caffeine intake
- Most of us overdo the caffeine (guilty!)
- Use it in moderation
- One or two cups of caffeine a day – that’s it!
- Drink more water
- Water helps maintain your energy level
- Dehydration leads to reduced focus
- Drink filtered or bottled water and add ice or fruit
- Sleep well
- Not enough sleep can kill focus and make you crabby and nobody wants that
- Many of us end up in a cycle of too little sleep, too much caffeine and not enough exercise
- Get 8 – 10 hours of sleep a day, but I know this depends on the individual
Management Tricks and Tips
Use One Calendar
Use just one calendar for everything. Include your work time, your time for clients and your personal time. Using separate calendars isn’t very efficient and you run the risk of forgetting tasks. I still carry a calendar. That’s how I got used to managing my life and it’s tough to change!
Color-Code Your Calendar
If you use an online calendar, organize your calendar by color-coding it. Assign different types of tasks with different colors. Then you can easily understand your schedule at a glance. You can have just one calendar but still see your schedule divided into categories like personal tasks, professional tasks, kids, family and so on.
When you estimate how long a task or project will take, add some extra time in case there are distractions or problems. Isn’t there always??? If it’s a project that will take four days, schedule in five days. If you don’t have distractions or problems, you’ll finish early with time to spare and can do the happy dance!
Set Deadlines for Everything
Set deadlines for every task, even those which are not time sensitive. This will keep you from putting off tasks that aren’t urgent and will help you get everything done. It also helps you prioritize and decide which tasks need to be worked on when.
Prioritize and Schedule High Priority Items First
Make a list of things to do based on deadlines and work on high priority items first. Do this not only daily but also weekly, monthly and so on. For example, if you have a time-sensitive task to do this week, get it done Monday or Tuesday.
Work Your Cycles
We all have different cycles. These are times during the day when we’re best at certain tasks. For example, your focus might be best in the morning. Mine is! Or you may find it easiest to deal with communication tasks in the afternoon. Figure out when you focus best for various tasks and schedule to fit your cycles.
Single-Task – Multi-Tasking is OVER-RATED!
Do. Not. Multi-task. Got it? People think that multi-tasking is good for productivity. If you’re doing two tasks at once, you must be getting more done, right? WRONG! Instead, you’re dividing your focus and not giving any of the multiple tasks the attention they deserve. Do one task at a time and save the others until later.
Schedule Distractions, Communications and Family Time
Set aside time for your distractions, communications, mindless entertainment (yes, we all need some) and family time. It makes it much easier to ignore distractions when you know you’ll deal with them later. If you schedule some time for relaxation and family alongside your work time, it also helps to break up the day.
Work and Non-Work Time
Create a definite time when work is finished for the day. Once you finish work, don’t keep checking email or doing work-related things. I know its tough but it’s important for maintaining a proper work-life balance. You can adjust your work time in any way you like, but make sure there is a definite stop time.
Conduct a Time Audit
If you really want to improve your time management, you can do a time audit. A time audit is when you monitor and log how you spend your time each day. At the end of a week or a couple of weeks, you can see exactly where your time is going. With this data in-hand, you can decide which things you’re spending enough time on, which things you’re spending too much time on and which things could use more of your time.
Exercises to Improve Your Focus and Concentration
Here are a few exercises that you can try to help you improve focus and concentration. These are all easy to practice and only take 5-10 minutes per day to produce results (although more doesn’t hurt).
- Sit somewhere comfortable and be quiet with your eyes closed
- Breath deep
- Focus on sensations
- Acknowledge thoughts then let them pass
- Don’t let a thought take you out of your meditation
- Start with 5 minutes and try to reach 20 or 30 minutes
- Keep notes of your distractions
- Note down distractions in a journal or on a set of cards
- Separate them into different times of the day
- Write down your distractions or interruptions and when they happened
- Recognize your distractions and how you deal with them
- Go back and see where distractions are coming from
- Note down distractions in a journal or on a set of cards
- Memorize something
- Take a list of things and remember it in order
- Keep adding items to make it longer
- Requires attention and helps with recall
- Don’t move
- Sit somewhere comfortable and see how long you can go without moving
- This takes a great deal of concentration
- Start with five minutes and gradually extend the time
- Count backwards
- Start with 100 and count back
- For more of a challenge, use multiples or start at higher numbers
- Try the alphabet backwards too
- Do puzzles
- A great way to challenge your brain and sharpen concentration
Create Your Focus and Concentration Action Plan
Now it’s time to put everything together and create an action plan that you can use to begin improving your concentration and focus.
- Get Organized
- Pick a day to organize your workspace
- Set daily, weekly and monthly times for keeping your desk clear
- Declutter your house
- Time management
- Integrate calendars into one
- Break large projects into smaller goals
- Make sure that you’re single-tasking, not multi-tasking
- Consider auditing your time
Staying focused is harder today than ever before. But the things that distract us and divert our attention aren’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s a situation that will likely get worse as our lives become more ‘technology driven’.
I know it’s hard to maintain focus! But if you can learn and apply a couple of techniques and create a few habits to help you concentrate, you’re on the road to being more focused! You’re clients will thank you for it too!
We’re all so busy that it’s easy to lose sight of our priorities. Often it can be a struggle just to stay on top of our day-to-day tasks. For many of us it seems there is just no time left to work on things that will move us toward our goals and aspirations.
Listen, try it! All it really takes is a little organization and planning to get you where you want and need to be.
Let me help! I would like to ‘gift’ you a Productivity Planner. With this Planner you can get yourself ready for more focused, productive days ahead. It allows you to schedule your priorities and keep you focused, saving you tons of time. Just download it and get it printed!
Here’s what you’ll get in the planner:
An inspirational quote to get you motivated each and every month
Space to document your daily priorities, schedule and tasks to keep you on track
A section for you to enter your daily reminders or anything important to you each day
Download your Productivity Planner here http://bit.ly/GetProductivein2018
About Becky Auer
Becky Auer has started 3 multi-million dollar businesses. The last was a Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar that she took from $0 to $6.5M in just over a year and kept it there until she sold it. Becky runs group coaching and mastermind groups as well as coaching private clients. For Free Resources, go to www.BeckyAuer.com.
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