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How to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

These tips for how to stay focused can be a game changer if you are looking to increase your productivity. If you are struggling to get your most important work done and are getting pulled away from focused work by never-ending distractions, this is a must read!

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Before we get into the tips, here are some important things you need to know:

  • This isn’t easy. If focused, productive work was easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s not. It takes effort and practice. You will not be good at it right away. It will take time and repetition to build up your “focus muscle”.
  • You might annoy some people. By eliminating distractions, you might knock other people off track because you are not available. That’s ok. Learn to set expectations and boundaries, and others will adjust accordingly.
  • Focus will take you to the next level. If you develop the ability to increase your focused time on important work, your life will improve. You will be better at your job and you will feel better about your accomplishments. Let’s do it!

5 tips for how to stay focused

1. Find your “best time”

If you want to do hard, focused work – you need to have energy and be mentally sharp. Finding the time when you have the most energy and mental clarity is critical to staying focused on a project or task. For most people, this is first thing in the morning.

Mental sharpness and willpower tends to be at its peak in the morning. This wears down during the day due to things such as:

  • Decision fatigue
  • Stress
  • Energy loss
  • Information overload

You get the idea. Weather you are a morning person or a night owl, make sure that you plan your focused work time around when you are at your peak. This will allow you to get more done and stay focused for a longer period.

2. Eliminate all distractions

Distractions are the #1 thing that will derail your focus. If you allow distractions into your planned “focus work” time, you will not be able to stay focused and achieve your goals. Some helpful tips for eliminating and avoiding distractions:

  • Close your office door
  • Block out your calendar
  • Turn off all notifications on your phone
  • Put your phone away (out of sight)
  • Get away (library, coffee shop, conference room)
  • Close browser tabs, computer programs, etc.
  • Close all email completely
  • Clear your desk of unnecessary clutter

The key here is to avoid all potential distractions for the time you want to remain focused. Think about the one or two items you need to complete your project or task. Keep those and remove or hide everything else.

3. Start small

In today’s world, we are constantly bombarded with waves of distracting information. It’s everywhere in our home, at work and in our pocket on our phones. Email, social media, news, Netflix, co-workers are all vying for our mental focus and energy.

So the advice here is to start small. If you are used to constant distractions, set a timer and try to do focused work on a task for 20 minutes. It will feel like an eternity! But by starting small you can work on developing your “focus muscle”. Even with small, 20 minute blocks of focused time you can achieve massive results.

Start with 10-20 minutes at first and work your way up to larger chunks of time. Personally, I seem to max out at about 90 minutes of focused work and then I need a break. Start small and gradually increase your focused work time until you find your sweet spot.

4. Set yourself up for success

Focus doesn’t just start when you sit down at your computer in the morning. If you don’t have a plan for what you want to work on you’ll spend time and energy figuring it out. This is time wasted – and you don’t want to waste your “best time”.

To get the most out of your focused work time, it’s essential to plan it out ahead of time. In addition to blocking out the time and eliminating distractions, do the following:

  • Write down exactly what you will work on the night before
  • Gather any materials/documents/resources you might need for the work and have them available
  • Tidy up your desk to have a “clean slate”
  • Close all tabs/programs on your computer to start fresh

Once you develop this planning practice, you will see that it is an essential step in focused productivity. By planning your big projects the afternoon or evening before, you set yourself up for success and are more likely to dig right in to that difficult project.

5. Give your work some meaning

This is more of a motivation technique, but it’s a powerful one. When you sit down for focused work, it’s important to define how the project you are working on relates to your goals and ideals. This helps to give your work some meaning and will give you additional motivation to stay focused on the task or project at hand.

As yourself these questions:

  • Which goal of mine does this project relate to?
  • How will completing this project benefit me (or my team/family)?
  • What feeling will I have after finishing this project/task?

These questions can help you understand the bigger picture behind your project and help you stay focused. Reminding yourself why you need to complete the project at hand will help you retain focus and continue on even when you don’t feel like it.

A final piece of advice

Accept this fact – you can’t multitask. You need to have a single focus – nothing else. That is how to stay focused for longer periods of time. You need to set everything else aside and focus all of your mental and physical energy into a single task.

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How will you stay focused?

So, what ONE THING are you going to start working on TODAY to be more focused? Comment below and tell us what your plans are. If you enjoyed this post and found it helpful please be sure to share it! Tag us in your posts on Instagram @realsimplegood and #TheRSGLife. We can’t wait to see what you are focusing on!


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