Incorporate strategies to improve focus

By JOHNNY CARCIOPPOLO / Community Columnist

You’d be surprised by how many people lose track of where their time goes. They might think they are focused on a single task, but are they really? One way to find out is to keep track of how you spend your time for a week.

Here are my strategies for improving your focus and increasing your productivity:

  • Track your time. Analyze the results after a week. Tweak and get rid of time wasters.
  • Plan your week. Write down key projects and the tasks associated with them. Don’t forget to add in family activities that you participate in as well.
  • Prioritize your list. Break down your tasks from most important to least important. Use a calendar to mark out blocks of uninterrupted time to work on each one.
  • Eliminate what isn’t essential. Outsource what you can for things you need to do but which aren’t your strengths.
  • Set your goals. Break down big or long-term goals into smaller weekly or daily goals to make them easier to focus on.
  • Set aside a specific amount of time each day for checking and answering email and social media. It could be the first 30-minute task of the day, the last 30 minutes of your work day, or maybe the 15 minutes before your lunch break. Only do it once a day though.
  • Do away with multitasking. It takes a while to learn how to focus on one project at a time, but stick with it and it will become a habit. Finish one project or task before moving on to the next one.
  • Make a distraction to-do list. The Internet has made it easy for us to become quickly distracted. As soon as we want to look something up, we hop on the Internet to do a search. Anytime we get distracted like this it takes about 25 minutes to get back to the original task. So instead, next time you want to look up something or an idea pops in your head, jot it down on a piece of paper.
  • Learn to say no. If you already have a full day’s task list, don’t feel like you have to take on another project for someone else.
  • Create an environment that works for you. If you work best in a neat and clean area, make sure you put away or file papers and magazines. Get rid of clutter. If you focus better while listening to music or some kind of ambient noise, be sure to have a way to make that happen.
  • Take a break when needed. Short breaks help break up boredom and burnout when you’re working on a big project.
  • Break up or chunk it. Break your tasks down into smaller more manageable chunks of time with short breaks in between.
  • Use an app on your phone to boost your productivity and concentration. Apps like Evernote can keep you organized and keep track of distractions.