Whether you’re a student, working from home or even back in the office, we all know what it’s like to completely lose focus and go off on a mind-wander. I am prolific for my ability to procrastinate and working from home has forced me to focus in but also pay attention to what works well for me. It’s easy to lose track, especially right now, but here are my Top Tips for getting that focus back.
1) Identify the issue
It sounds simple enough, but often if you’re sitting there staring at your screen, you don’t really know why you’ve lost that trail of thought or why you can’t get stuck into your task. Take a step back and think about why! Are your working conditions okay? Are you being distracted by something in particular? Do you need to take a break and have a snack? Once you identify what the issue is, work around fixing it and get back to the task at hand.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore the issue! The quicker you solve it, the quicker you can get back to being super productive. (Unlike me when I couldn’t focus on a screen at all and realised I needed glasses after a few weeks!).
2) Take a break
10 minutes for a cup of tea? An hour for lunch? Or is it just not happening today and you need to come back to it tomorrow. You really need to find what works best for you. Unless you’re a superhero, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to go 9-5 without having a snack or a little wander and that’s okay.
If you’re working from home, remember it’s super unlikely that at work you would have gone all day without getting up for a stretch apart from lunch, so make sure you make the effort to move about. Normally you’d walk somewhere for a meeting or to grab a coffee, but this won’t be happening anymore. Schedule in little breaks to have a cup of tea and even go for a wander around the block to reset your mind. When you’re having a break, try and keep away from your phone. You’ll already be staring at a screen all day, so take this time away to reset completely.
3) Eliminate distractions
I’m sure we’ve all been in the position where we think ‘oh I’ll just check [insert social media site here]’ and suddenly you’ve lost years of your life (okay, not years, but you get me). Unless you need to have your phone with you, put it into another room and focus on that work! If you are truly struggling, you can find lots of apps that block social media sites for a set amount of time. If you have an iPhone, you can also schedule ‘downtime’, that blocks your ability to use certain apps. If you’re more distracted than unfocused, try and put some of this resources to use.
5) Keep work & home separate
This follows on quite nicely from distractions – try and keep your work life and home life seperate. If you can, set up a working space away from the rest of the home – for example, I work only in my spare room. If you can’t do that, set up a corner that you can work well in, but where you won’t be easily distracted by the TV/other people you live with/the fridge (I’ll allow that last one!).
Make sure you’re establishing those set working hours too. When you’re working from home, your time really blurs and you may find yourself checking your emails super late because you haven’t really left work. By setting up that you’re going to work from 9-5, you’ve established your working time and you know you’ll be focusing solely on work during that time too. Without this structure, you’ll find yourself drifting in and out of work all day, never really managing to sit down and get stuck into a task.
6) Limit the focus and get organised!
If you’ve juggling a lot of balls, you’re never going to be able to focus on just one. Multi-tasking is a skill, but also a hindrance if you’ve got a heavy workload. Get organised and prioritise your tasks to enable you to just focus on that one thing at a time. On Monday, make a list of everything you need to complete that week. Break it down and assign tasks daily. Look at your calendar for the week and start setting timings for what you’re going to do. A timetable never hurt anyone! If you run over your timings a little bit, that’s not a problem – just reshuffle your plans to fit your deadlines. At the end of each day, take a look over your to-do list, tick everything off (SO satisfying!) and make your plan for tomorrow.
By limiting those distractions and narrowing your focus, you’ll find your concentration improving massively. Make sure you take time out for yourself too! Stress never helped anyone concrentrate so make sure you’re fueling yourself properly, sleeping well and taking proper breaks away from work. Let me know what your top tips are for getting that focus back below!