7 Simple Ways To Stay Focused

In a fast-paced world filled with endless distractions, maintaining focus has never been harder. I remember when I used to sit down at my desk and easily bury myself in my studies for hours on end without even the slightest thought of what I might have missed on Instagram or Facebook. Now, I sit down at my desk to tackle the morning’s emails or to edit a video and I battle to focus for more than an hour…and I find that..well, I find that pretty worrying.

After feeling short of energy, tired & grumpy during the past two weeks I decided that it was time to reassess what changes I could make in my life in order to maximise concentration and lessen distraction. I have put together seven very short and simple ways that I am in the process of implementing in my life in order to regain my focus and have shared them below.

I have also since received some great feedback from some of my viewer’s on YouTube, so if you’re interested in reading more about what others have shared about their focus hacks, check out the comment section of the YouTube video attached at the bottom of this post.

  1. DO NOT LOOK AT MY PHONE WHEN I WAKE UP

What’s the first thing that you do when you open your eyes in the morning? (No really, let me know in the comments below).

For me – I roll over in bed and look at my phone. I check what notifications, messages and emails might have come through during the night and what I might have missed. The problem is that the morning before my work day begins, is actually the only time that I can truly disconnect and be offline – so instead I’m proposing to both myself and to you, to leave your phone upside down on your bed stand. Instead, get up, make your coffee, make your bed and catch some fresh air before being consumed in what might have gone on while you were sleeping – because the chances are, it really wasn’t that exciting.

2. MAKE A DAILY ‘TO DO LIST’ AND SCHEDULE

I LOVE LISTS. No I really do. I catch myself writing things down that I have already done just so that I can tick them off (before you judge me, it appears that many other people do the same).

I often feel as though my thoughts are all over the place and I tend to spend a measly 10 minutes on one task before moving onto the next in fear of forgetting. Writing down what I need to tackle for the day helps me to gain some clarity & complete each task fully before moving onto the next.

I have also been advised to write down a daily schedule whereby you allocate times for these different tasks. For example:

9-10am: Gym

10:30-11am: Daily Emails

11-1pm: Edit Video

3. MINDFULNESS

I know that this one might sound a little up in the air but taking 10 minutes in the morning for yourself is so important, despite me initially thinking that it was more of waste of time than anything else. I downloaded an incredible app called “Headspace” which guides you through basic meditation and mindfulness practices for either 3, 5 or 10 minutes and I can’t recommend it more.

‘Mindfulness’ seems to be a term thrown around pretty Willy Nilly these days, the latest buzz word of 2017 however it’s something that has been around for thousands of years. Defined as ‘a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.’ It’s something that I am trying to incorporate into my daily schedule just before I tackle my work in the morning in order to try and start the day in a fresh and clear headspace.

According to the Positive Psychology Program, some of the benefits of mindfulness include:

  • Higher brain functioning
  • Increased immune function
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Lowered heart rate
  • Increased awareness
  • Increased attention and focus
  • Increased clarity in thinking and perception
  • Lowered anxiety levels

4) CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT

Sometimes we get in creative ruts regardless of what industry we work in. Often, a change of your typical work environment can be the magic switch in order to gain some more inspiration. For myself, although I love being in charge of my schedule and work hours, if I’m not 100% focused, I tend to find every distraction under the sun in order to put off doing that one thing that has been on my to-do list for some time. I can imagine that working in an office can limit those distractions.

As a freelancer, I try to find work-friendly coffee shops that often have other people working around me. My friend, Kiersten Rich, has written a great blog post that suggests a few Cape Town coffee shops perfect for a freelancer.

5) GET SOME FRESH AIR

I guess this point ties in with the one above – except I encourage you to put down all of your technology & to spend at least 15 minutes soaking up the fresh air outside. I have started to enjoy doing this during my morning coffee as well as to get outside for sunset in the evenings. Of course, it would be awesome if your daily dose of fresh air was combined with exercise such as a walk or run. For me, my time in nature is often in the ocean, my favourite form of meditation.

6) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LIKE-MINDED, POSITIVE PEOPLE

Our support system – one of the most crucial aspects that can either negatively or positively, influence our life. I can’t stress how important it is to have friends and family that support you in what ever you choose to do. It’s also equally important that they can call you out if they feel like you’re making a wrong decision as well as revel in your achievements. In my friendship circle, I’m surrounded by strong, hard-working and supportive individuals who work as doctors, some are still studying, lawyers, engineers, fashion and teachers. All of us occupy extremely different jobs in fields that couldn’t be further apart however despite not always understanding what each of our work entails, it’s a great support system to lean on.

7) SET A BEDTIME

Oosh! I plead guilty. Lately I have been staying up until 1-2am doing nothing productive or constructive – in fact I’ve been binge-watching Friends (no hard feelings about that though, right?). I could however feel that my energy had significantly dropped & that I was constantly waking up feeling groggy which set the slow pace for the rest of my day. I have therefore tried to implement a 11pm bedtime – off of my laptop and my phone.

Let me know if you found any of these tips helpful, and if you have advice that you would like to share to enhance focus, please share them below.