Anybody have a hard time getting themselves to focus on the task at hand ONLY, not the 19 other things on your mind at this very moment? I'm sure we've all been in situation like this. Well, I've put together a list of things that I do to help me focus and get to work! It doesn't matter if you need to do homework, meet a work deadline, or blog your heart out, these tips should help you!
1. Turn your phone off.. or at least put it somewhere that you can't see the screen :)
Hi, I'm a millennial and I am on my phone constantly. - Sound like anyone you know? I'm going to guess it sounds like most of us. I'm not here to grill anyone on their phone usage (I'd be the biggest hipocrit in the world if I did..), but when I really need to be productive I put my phone in my purse or turn it upside down at the very least. If I don't see the notifications pop up on my screen I don't feel the need to grab it every time it lights up. I try to put it far enough away, or on a soft surface, so that I can't feel it vibrate or hear the notification sounds go off too. - It should not be this hard or take this many steps, but realistically, this is something more than just the millennial generation has an issue with. - I don't do this all the time, but when I really need to get things done I do and will only check it once an hour or two in case of emergency or someone needing something. Your brain can focus better without the constant sound alerts, screen notifications, and vibrations. If you're struggling to stay focused, just try it.
2. Make a to-do list.. carefully..
Sometimes I have a two page long to-do list, other days I have five bullet points each with one word. Sure, some of this depends on workload, but it is also different strategies being used. It sounds backwards, but if I have a strict deadline or stressed, I make pretty detailed to-do lists. They include nearly everything I have to do in a day (or sometimes week). This might stress some people out, to lay out everything that needs done by a certain deadline, but what stresses me out more than that is when I'm nearing a deadline and remember a whole other set of tasks I have to do. My long lists travel with me and sit right next to me when I get to work so I can check things off as I accomplish them. Ah, satisfaction.
My short, compact lists are used for when it's just things I want to do. For instance, most things with my blog are not must do items, but I'd like to get them done by a certain time. This week my to-do (for Girl Meets GAMEDAY) looked something like this:
3. Take breaks.
Yep you read that right, in order to get work done you must take breaks. Have you ever had a big exam or work project you were pressing to study for or finish? Did you get to the point where you thought all your energy and time had to be focused on that one exam or project? How'd you do when you reached that point? I'm going to guess you got even more stressed, maybe even felt sick? When I do this to myself I get stress headaches (that usually turn into migraines), sick to my stomach, hot, sometimes even panicky.. basically nothing good or fun comes from it. Now, I am (usually) the queen of procrastination and am definitely not the spokesgirl for the "get your stuff done well before deadlines" campaign, so I totally understand this last minute push to get things accomplished. I've learned though that focusing on one thing for too long actually hurts your progress. Start studying or working a little earlier and allow yourself 5-15 minute breaks every 45-60 minutes.
4. Exercise. (P.S. don't tell my family I said this!)
I used to hate hearing this. I thought there was no way this could help or hurt your productivity. I was wrong. - I'm not a morning person, so working out before work is not something I do (at this point..), but even exercise after work, between classes, or towards the end of the day, makes me feel like I can accomplish more. And I usually do accomplish more. When I had late morning breaks between classes and worked out the rest of my day went SO much better. There were times I couldn't workout until later in the day though, which is fine too! It might not have affected my productivity as much, but my stress level went down. Which typically meant I could get a few more tasks done before bed, or calm down and sleep better. - If you have a lot to do or your stressed and need to be productive, take the time to exercise. It sounds wrong, "take time out of doing the work to do something else so that you can get more work done", huh? But really, it makes a difference for me at least!
5. Play some music that YOU enjoy.
Play some music that doesn't distract you, but gives you a some background noise and helps you focus, whatever type of music that may be! For me, some days that is country, some days it's throwbacks, and some days it's 2000s rap. Don't judge! While I was studying for the GRE I listened to a lot of alternative pop from the 90s and 2000s (Lifehouse, Goo Goo Dolls, The Fray ), it was soft enough that it calmed me down and was music I could listen to without (always) singing along. If I have a tedious task at work that doesn't really take much brain power, I'll listen to music I sing along or dance a little to. It makes the task fun that way! -- Find music that works for you, whatever genre that might be, and use it as a way to calm yourself or to get through those tasks that you don't really want to do.
Alright, you've heard the five steps to being more productive and the reasons behind them, so tell me what you think! I'd love to hear your original thoughts on the article and your thoughts after you've tried some of these!
As always, leave your questions and comments below!