4 Easy Tips to get Focused and Get The Right Things Done

You might have your weekly plan, but you still feel like you don’t get anything done. You need to be intentional about your work hours; to make sure you get time to work. You cannot wait until you get “in the zone”, you have to make it happen!

I’ve compiled four tips that worked magic for me, and I hope it can do the same for you:

  1. Book focus time in your calendar
  2. Avoid multitasking
  3. Avoid checking “things” during breaks
  4. Turn off notifications and let people know about it

Book focus time

Book focus time in your calendar. Take a look at your previous weeks, how many hours do you spend on average on meetings? How are they spread across your calendar? Do you get anything done in those 30 minutes slots between your meetings?

Now book several recurring focus time slots of 2-3 hours. This will force people to book meetings on the remaining parts of your calendar and will give you several good chunks of time during the week to do deep work.

Sure, you might be rewarded with a few meeting marathons, but I promise you it will be worth it.

Avoid multitasking at all cost

Speaking of deep work, multitasking is a major productivity killer!  When you switch from task to task, without completing the first one, you will not be able to focus 100% on the 2nd (or 3rd or 4th). Our brains are not able to let go off unfinished tasks, it’s called the Zeigarnik effect. Your stress level will rise and you will not be able to focus 100% on any of the tasks you are multitasking on. So the best way to regain focus is to finish off one at the time

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Avoid checking the news, personal mail or social media during breaks

I could write numerous reasons on why not to do this. But for simplicity I’ll  point to my previous bullet. This is also kind of multitasking. Your mind get stuck on one of the things you just read, and your brain treats this as an unfinished task. Boom; focus lost!

Have a glass of water, do a five minute yoga or meditation or go for a tiny walk instead.

Photo by Siarhei Plashchynski on Unsplash

What the heck; I’ll give you one more reason. Did you know that people usually blink 15 times a minute, but when staring at a computer screen this can decrease to a third. This might lead to dry and irritated eyes, headaches, trouble concentrating. It even has a name; Computer Vision Syndrom (CVS), and in one study 90% of the participants experienced symptoms after 2 hours in front of a computer screen!

Gazing out the window, or on anything further away than 6 meters (2o feet) only 20 seconds every 20 minutes can reduce these symptoms?

Enjoying your view can actually be seen as an eye exercise AND your mind gets to take a well deserved break.

Turn off notifications and let people know about it

Another way to avoid multitasking is to turn off notifications. Just do it, turn ’em all off!!

  • E-mail (before you object, no, e-mail is not an immediate communication channel)
  • Slack, Teams, Google Chat or whichever gives you the most distractions during the day
  • Any browser notifications
  • Your phone, of course!
  • What ever else you might have notifications on

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff from Pexels

By the way, this includes the visual indicators as well as the sounds.

But! And there is one important but, choose one channel as the primary channel and let people know about it. You definitely don’t want to be unreachable. Also, tell them that this is how to reach you if urgent. If it’s not, they should use any of the other channels which you then will check between your tasks, not in the middle of one.

Ensure you don’t get interrupted

All the tips above will help you not to get interrupted when you do your deep work. According to one study conducted at the University of California, it took an average of 23 minutes to get back to work after you got interrupted. This study was on people getting interrupted by others, but you can just as easily interrupt yourself. Just think of the last time you were supposed to spend only 2 minutes checking <your favorite thing to “just check”>. Did you spend just 2 minutes?

Now, imagine a day without interruptions. How many timeslots of 23 minutes do you think you might save?

The math is really simple!

Which of these tips will you implement today?

And please leave a comment on your favorite tips on how to get focused.

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