9 tips to improve your focus

A few years back I realized that I was constantly distracted and found myself mindlessly checking social media over and over again. We’ve all done it, right? It caused me to reflect on what I was getting from social media, as well, and I realized it was nothing worth “getting.” So, I deleted all my passwords and didn’t touch any social media for two years.

Guess what? I still struggled with distraction.

The reality is, there are a million distractions around us all the time. A lack of focus results in reduced work quality, worse memory retention, stress, and ultimately getting less done.

So it makes sense that we’d want to “solve” this problem. Unfortunately, there is no one solution out there for all of us. But, small decisions made consistently will add up to a more focused you.

Here are 9 strategies that will help you hone your focus.

Prime your environment

What you surround yourself with is a key factor in staying focused. When your phone is on your desk, computer notifications are on, and you’re listening to a podcast, your work quality will go down.

Remove what pulls your attention away and add what aids you to stay focused.

Some ideas to help:

  • choose a focus block
  • close your office door
  • put your phone in a drawer
  • drown out background noise
  • turn off notifications (phone & computer)

Stop multitasking

Only 2.5% of people multitask effectively. It’s unlikely you’re not one of them.

There is research out there that says performance decreases by 15% or more when multitasking, but think it might actually be more.

You will make more mistakes.

You’ll do things slower.

Your problem-solving ability will decrease.

Improve your diet

Too much, too little, or lack of nutrients can all affect your focus and concentration.

When you get the right nutrients, your:

  • stress levels decrease
  • mental clarity improves
  • energy level stays consistent

For a small pick-me-up before or during a focus session, try:

  • dark chocolate
  • blueberries
  • green tea
  • coffee
  • nuts

I need to do better at this because it’s definitely one of my weaknesses.

Get more sleep

I always knew sleep was important, but I don’t think I realized how important until we had our baby.

When he started sleeping through the night at 5 months, it was amazing how our energy increased.

Lack of sleep can result in:

  • slower thinking
  • lower levels of alertness
  • reduced levels of concentration
  • worse retention of information (memory)

The biggest thing for us has always been getting to bed on time. This means starting your evening “shut down” with plenty of time to still get the necessary 8 hours.

Set your environment up by:

  • creating a bedtime routine
  • making sure you get 8 hours
  • removing blue light 2 hrs before bed (phone, TV, computer)
  • doing breathing exercises to relax

Exercise

Even light exercise will:

  • increase your energy
  • sharpen your thinking
  • improve your memory
  • release tension from your body

All of these help you with focus.

Practice

We don’t naturally have elite focus and it can only be improved by actually working to improve it.

Practice focusing by regularly:

  • meditating to calm, relax, and direct your mind
  • playing games to improve memory and problem solving

Some fun games to play are:

  • Sudoku
  • jigsaw puzzles
  • Crossword puzzles
  • memory games or apps
  • word games (Wordle anyone?)

Play these games with your kids. It has been shown that children who play a lot of games are more prepared for the world and better at focusing.

Set a timer

Your focus is not unlimited. Setting a timer is making a commitment for a set period of time.

While it may seem goofy, it’s an external mechanism that’s a reminder of what you’re supposed to be doing (focusing).

Take short breaks

After your timer goes off, take a break.

If you focus too long, your intensity actually decreases.

Here are a few ways you can take breaks:

  • Step away from your task
  • Do breathing exercises
  • Get a drink of water
  • Take a short walk
  • Stretch

Recharge and then get back at it.

Do things that matter

The reality is, a lot of you struggle to focus because you’re doing things you don’t care about.

I have no solution for that other than start doing the things that matter.

Summary

Improving your focus is a process. You’re building a muscle (your brain).

You’ll see strides at first, but like most things, it’s a lifelong journey.

Don’t get discouraged and just keep at it.

I talked more about this in my latest podcast episode, which you can listen to here.


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