We’ve all been there. You show up at the desk, the whole day’s ahead of you, but you can’t figure out how to stay focused at work for an hour or two.
It can be particularly challenging to keep your concentration focused on a task, especially if you work online.
Whether it’s decision fatigue, bad habits, lack of motivation, or something else entirely, your inability to focus burns a hole into your productivity and you are not able to get things done consistently.
Not everything works for everyone. That’s why we gathered more than 80 tips that will help you to stay focused while studying, writing a paper, reading a book, or doing any work online.
Learn How to Stay Focused in the Office and When You Work at Home
You have probably heard some of them, but you might have missed some easy to implement ways to stay focused because you never thought about them. Just adding a few of these productivity tools to your arsenal will help you to feel more alert, be attentive at work and boost your concentration without reading dozens of books that try to teach you “to stay focused.”
You will learn easy and simple to implement ways to avoid distractions, design your environment, take care of your body and train your brain to focus. These tips go way beyond the typical “Eat the frog” and take regular breaks. (Although you’ll find them in this list as well).To get started browse through the tips and find something that you can do today. Just pick an area where you feel you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
How To Stay Focused On Your Goals
It’s important to remind yourself of what you’re working towards. Having a goal in mind will fuel your motivation to finish your work, push through when you feel tired, and stay focused on a long term goal.
Before you go to sleep, clear your mind and make some basic decisions about what you will do tomorrow.
For longer time frames pinpoint a specific goal you can work towards. It’s easy to get lost in a distracting series of small tasks if you’re not working towards a meaningful, large goal.
When you have a goal to work towards, it can be the carrot at the end of the stick that makes the task worth doing. There is a reason why I mention this point at the beginning of this article.
It’s merely the most important one. If you want to stay focused, you must be specific and have a time slot for absolutely everything.
There are many ways to do this. To stick with this routine, I recommend the method that you are most comfortable with.
One of the biggest failures I’ve seen (and committed myself) was to create a complicated time management system that I abandoned one or two weeks later because it was too complicated.
You can use a one-page productivity planner, some journal or one of the many ToDo-List and Calendar apps out there.
It does not matter which method you choose.
These are the options that are proven to work for many people: The most important thing is that you have a look at your plan before you start to work and when you finish your work.
Try to use the same system — every single day. Jim Rohn once said:
“Don’t start the day until it is pretty well finished — at least the outline of the day. Leave some room to improvise. Leave some room for extra strategies, but finish it before you start it.”Jim Rohn
To boost your focus choose ONE from the variety of systems that are available on the market and STICK with it.
One of the biggest mistakes I made in the past was switching between all those systems. Don’t make the same mistake.
There are many options you can choose from. Research suggests that handwriting activates different, critical areas of the brain than typing. That’s why one of my best tips to stay focused at work is to use a least one analog way of planning.
Traditional Methods To Plan Your Day
Especially if you have a hard time focusing at work I recommend to write things down on a piece of paper.
Use A Simple Piece of Paper
The best format to use a simple piece of paper is the format I found on Neville Medhora’s blog. His to-do lists have morphed many times over the years until he found this method that works for him. It’s only a pen and paper. It’s important to notice that he only plans his tasks THE DAY BEFORE. He rarely ever adds on work for the same day. (He claims that the way he stays sane).
Use A Simple Calendar
Probably you already have something like this. You’ll often get one for free from various companies for free.
Use A Moleskine Book / Diary
Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying fundamentals. One thing to keep track of the fundamentals is to write things down. If you still doubt if this is the right approach for you I recommend to read the blog post Can A $2-Tool Make You A Millionaire?
Use A Formatted Journal
Planning is not something that comes naturally for many people. Even those who love to plan need the right system to ensure that they are getting the most from their planning. That’s why many experts created a structured journal to boost focus. These often contain additional prompts to help you focus on all aspects of your life.
Choose one of these if you like to follow a proven format.
THE FREEDOM JOURNAL – Accomplish your #1 goal in 100 days
John Lee Dumas created this journal. On his podcast Entrepreneur on fire, he has interviewed over 2000 successful Entrepreneurs. The journal is his step-by-step process to guide you in setting and accomplishing your #1 goal in 100 days.You will establish an action plan every day. At the end of the day, the journal helps you to review your wins and losses. It contains 10-DAY Sprints to accomplish ten micro-goals and quarterly reviews to identify obstacles and adjust.
The Bullet Journal
The bullet journal is a planner system devised by Ryder Carrol. It’s a blank journal that contains a combination of different elements like the other planners mentioned here as well. It includes an index, monthlies, dailies, collections, and a future log. Basically, any blank journal can become a bullet journal. The original trademarked Bullet Journal includes an 8-page guide that will teach you everything you need to get started. You can watch this video to get an overview of Ryder’s system.
The Phoenix Journal
The Phoenix Journal is a quarterly planner with a full page for note-taking and journaling for every day. My friend Mitchell McBrayer created it. Feel free to list to my podcast episode “How Daily And Weekly Planning Will Burn Away Your Bad Habits And Transform Your Life” with him. The Phoenix Journal tries to provide the perfect balance between freedom and structure. Plan your day, reflect, take notes and journal all in one place.
The Full Focus Planner
Just like the other planner, The Full Focus Planner® exists as the perfect intersection of annual goal-setting and daily productivity. Leadership expert and bestselling author Michael Hyatt created it, to offer a tactical solution for acting on your highest priorities, both day-to-day and year-to-year. Michael Hyatt wants to help you to fuel your high-achieving lifestyle so that you can accomplish your biggest priorities without overwhelm and distraction.
The High-Performance Planner
Brendon Burchard’s planner is combination of a planner and journal to increase your performance via writing prompts, self-assessments, and calendars all backed by science and the author’s 20 years coaching the highest performers in business, athletics, entertainment, and beyond.
The High-Performance Planner is a 2-in-1 day planner and journal based on the world’s most extensive study of how high performers increase productivity, set goals, prioritize projects, outperform their peers, and create the positive mindset and habits needed to win the day.
Through morning mindset journal prompts, daily goal boxes, evening scorecards, weekly habit assessments, monthly project planning, and proprietary whole life balance sheets, the Planner helps you think more strategically, prioritize like a pro, achieve your goals faster, and become more focused, happy, and productive.
Use A Formatted One Page-Productivity Planner
If you want to stay focused at work and don’t want to carry a journal with you everywhere you can use a “One-Page-Productivity-Planner” instead. For this you have several options.
Brendon Burchard’s One Page Productivity Planner
Brendon Burchard designed a simple tool for working through your day. His most important mantra is: “Never forget the inbox is nothing but a convenient organizing system for other people’s agendas.” In his High-Performance Academy (that I was a part of) he recommends to move through your day by starting your morning filling out the 1-Page Productivity Planner. I was pretty annoyed by the branding on this planner and the lack of critical items. If you want to use his approach you are probably better of by buying the High-Performance Journal.
The FindFocus Productivity Planner
Because I needed a simple but more holistic tool, I decided to create my own. It combines the essential elements you will find in the productivity journals mentioned on a single sheet of paper.
With this planner, you create your “success list.” The planner makes you focus on a small number of tasks—the vital few—essential to achieving your long-term goals. These tasks are the most important things that you can do right now to boost your focus and results exponentially.
The planner was designed to have much space to write, to plan your day, to reflect, to focus on long term and short term goals and to design your ideal routine. If you want to implement the most important tips that you will discover in this article, it’s probably the cheapest and best analog tool you can use.
Outsource Your Focus And Get A Coach
Of all the solutions presented in this article, this is probably the highest leverage thing you can do to boost your focus at work and in life. The constant battle for focus & productivity is a task that you rarely win alone.
Staying ultra-focused on high-leverage action is the ultimate struggle for everyone working online.
Getting a coach is the ultimate life hack to stay focused and overcome overwhelm, isolation and procrastination. There is nothing like a fellow human who’s only interest is to help you.
You cannot compare this to any software or any other productivity tool. While most other solutions that require you to change your behavior create short-term excitement that fades after a week or two, your coach will be able to see patterns over time.
Having a coach looking over your shoulder can quickly become the cornerstone of your focus.
For this solution, all you have to do is show up and be radically honest with yourself and your coach.
Having some other human help you to organize your thinking and clear your head is not the cheapest option but highly recommended if you want to stay focused at work.
One solution that I’ve tried in the past was using CommitAction. This service combines getting a coach and a to-do list app. Commit Action is also one of the most affordable to get a coach because other coaches easily cost $100/hour and more. The most important thing to consider when choosing a coach is to trust your gut.
Just like every other answer to the question “How to stay focused at work” in this excessive list you probably have to try different forms of coaching and various coaches until you find someone you trust and resonate with.
Create a Dashboard and Decide Upon Your KPI’s
Whether you get a coach or not the next best thing to boost your focus is to create a dashboard. Often it’s difficult to see your progress over time. That’s why almost every company uses some controlling system or has a complete controlling department. The most sophisticated personal dashboard I have ever seen was created by Sam Ovens, a master of focus.
Sam has a simple equitation:
Results = Energy x Focus Energy = Sleep + Meditation + Exercise + Socializing Focus = Goals + Processes + Habits + Environment
To see success with focus, there is no way of improving over time if you cannot measure it.
The tips you’ll find in this guide are all based on these focus areas.
Create A Personal Dashboard
It’s next to impossible to maintain focus on your longterm goals without a dashboard. Your dashboard does not have to be complex (but it can be). If you think “I can’t concentrate on anything” and want to focus better at work, I would recommend choosing between the following options to make yourself focused.
Get a Whiteboard
I’ve justed a lot of things when I tried to stay focused but always preferred things that are simple and highly visual like a whiteboard. This is a great way to keep track of your deep work hours and any important KPI you want to track manually.
Use a Simple Sheet of Paper and Hang It on Your Wall
If you don’t have a whiteboard to write down your goals just use a simple sheet of paper and put it to your wall. Write down your new “focus” goal in big letters and put it up in front of your desk. That way, every time you see it, you will feel motivated to focus. Everything is better than not writing down and having no visual reminders.
Use a Simple Excel Spreadsheet or Google Sheet
Excel and Google Sheets are great ways to keep track of your goals because they are so flexible.
For example, you can use this to create a financial dashboard. Being delusional about your financial situation can be one of the things that prevent you from maintaining focus on your daily tasks. There is magic in transforming data points into lines that either move up or down.
At the bare minimum, I would recommend tracking your expenses and revenue/income along with your savings. This is really revealing if you do this for a couple of years in a row. (Something I’ve neglected way too long). You can start with a simple spreadsheet or use an app that was designed for this purpose.
Use a Habit Tracking App
Another great way to keep track of your goals (especially process-oriented goals) are habit tracker apps like Habitica or Beeminder which allow you to track your progress. Habitica is turning your life into a role-playing game and make it fun to do chores and Beeminder is an app that lets you answer with a number or connect a device/app to auto-report. It will show your progress and a Yellow Brick Road to follow to stay on track. If you go off track, you pledge money to stay on the road the next time. If you go off track again, we charge you.
Use A Goal-Setting App
Using a to-do list app is one of the most common methods of time management. These planning tools usually offer complete control over organizing your tasks. You can use them to monitor the progress of a project as well as a team.
However, you need to do your research to find the best app for you depending upon your requirements. Because I never had much luck with digital apps for personal planning, I’ll refer you to this article to find the best goal-setting app for you.
Make Your Tracking 10x More Powerful With Implementation Intentions
In his book Atomic Habits James Clear refers to a study from 2001, where they worked with 248 people to build better exercise habits.
They divided the participants into three groups.
- Group 1 was the control group. These people were simply asked to track how often the exercised.
- Group 2 was basically the same but was educated about the benefits of exercise, so they would be motivated. In these Groups 35%-38% exercised at least once per week.
- In Group 3 91% exercised. They got the same presentation as Group 2 did with one variation. They were asked to be specific about when, how and where to exercise.
Having a specific plan for when and where you will perform an action to increase your focus will almost guarantee that you follow through.
Us this formula for all focus tips when you go through the rest of the list.
So if you are really asking yourself “How To Stay Focused At Work?” all you have to do is to fill out this sentence for every single item you find beneficial:
Set Implementation Intentions
I will [Perform Action] at [Time] in [Location]
Tipps to Stay Focused At Work by Increasing Your Motivation
It’s not always knowing where you want you go you need a “why” to sustain your motivation. Here are some tips to keep up your motivation when you feel that willpower is not enough to stay focused.
Get a Jar of Awesome
This “jar of awesome” is something I learned from Tim Ferriss. It’s a jar filled with notes that capture all of those cool moments that you’re not going to remember tomorrow or a week later.
Whenever something great happens like someone made a compliment, you saw something beautiful on your way to work write it down on a slip of paper and throw it into a big container or glass.
Then when you’ve lost your focus and need an extra boost of motivation, pick a random piece of paper to remember this special moment from your past.
Paying attention to “small wins” is an important aspect of happiness and well-being. It directs your focus to things that you might miss if you are not paying attention to the smaller details of your life.
Create a Success List
Jot down your small wins to keep your focus on the positive side. If you don’t want to use a journal set aside a few minutes to write down your wins. Maybe include any lessons learned or changes you’d like to make in the future.
May you can even do that right now?
What are you grateful for? What went right today? This week? This month?
Listen to Podcasts
It’s difficult to stay focused without having constant reminders. Podcasts are the last medium that is not torn into snippets.
You can still experience the context of a one hour interview or a series of shorter podcasts that you can follow on a daily basis.
Read Books That Remind Who You Are
Even better than podcasts are books. You’ll learn a lot more from books than from reading blog posts like this. In fact this every blog post is taken mostly from books that are in my library.
Implement a Reward System for Yourself
I do this and not only does it motivate me to work harder, but it has also helped me develop healthier spending habits. Every time I achieve a goal (to become more focused, in this case), I give myself a gift. Until I have achieved that goal, I withhold all luxuries from myself, even takeout!
Increase Your Focus by Designing Your Work Environment
Where you work is probably one of most important decisions you can make. Ideally, you would choose a combination of a soundproof office and expose yourself to ideas in hubs on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, not every one of us can design the ideal work environment but
Here are a few things to consider if you want to increase your ability to stay focused:
Stay Where You Are
Whether you’re working in an office, a library, or at your own home, it’s hard to build a productive routine if you constantly have to adapt to a new environment. Developing a habit of reading or working in the same place has its psychological benefits. Return to the same space anytime for similar tasks so you develop productive habits and routines.
If you make focus at work a priority you need to optimize as many elements of your work environment as possible.
Choose a Quiet Place And
Choose a place where you do not get distracted by other people, waiters, loud sounds or anythings else that might grab your attention. External noise and distraction can break your concentration for a long time.
Avoid Physical Distractions
To everything to avoid any kind of distractions. For example, you can try Hang a Do Not Disturb sign if you work in an open office space. Every time you get distracted it takes about 20 minutes until you reach your highest capacity to focus again. Make this a priority for any type of work that requires deep concentration and creativity.
Keep Your Phone out of Sight
While we’ll take a deeper dive into how to set up your phone for staying focused it’s a good idea to place it out of sight. There are a number of studies that show the negative impact of having a phone visible in sight. While you work make sure that you don’t get distracted by incoming calls or notifications. Once you do this a few times you will realize that your Fear of Missing Out is not based on reality.
Use a Ksafe
While you can use apps on your phone to block any kind of distractions I prefer the physical solution. Use a ksafe when you want to get a few hours of work done.
If you put your phone on airplane mode it’s guaranteed that nobody will disturb you. (Not even your our urge to check Facebook or Twitter).
Turn off Your Computer When You’re Not Using It.
If you are working on a task that doesn’t require the computer, turn off the monitor. Only turn it back on when you need to use it.
Use Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Buying my Sony WH-1000XM3 was one of the best investments I’ve ever made not only for work but also when my wife or the kids watch TV and I want to read a book instead.
Listen to Music That Enhances Your Focus
You got some noise-canceling phones but what kind of music do you listen to? My absolute favorite music while working is to listen to brain.fm which is functional music to improve focus in 15 minutes. This science-based app creates music that sounds different–and affects your brain differently–than any other music.
If you cannot do not want to afford expensive gear opt-in for the low-cost alternative. Ear-Plugs are probably one of the cheapest tools you get to get into the focus zone. Neville Medora that using earplugs has “VASTLY improved his life in many ways:
- They help me write way better.
- They make me feel “in my own world.”
- They help me concentrate for long periods of time.
- They calm me down on planes.
- They help me sleep much better.
Let the Sun Shine In
Sitting in a darkened room can make you feel less alert because it interferes with the body’s circadian rhythms. Find a place with a lot of natural light and open any curtains or blinds. If this is not possible make sure to install office lights that simulate natural light. 
Keep the Temperature Mild
The ideal temperature for a work environment is 21° Celsius. (That’s about 71° Fahrenheit)
If you cannot maintain that exactly, try to keep the thermostat between 20–25° Celsius (68–77° Fahrenheit). If the temperature is too high, it’s hard to concentrate and remain focus for 8 hours at work. If the temperature is too low, you may shiver or feel ill.
Surround Yourself With Fresh Flowers and Plants
Try to add some real plants to your office. Maybe a small plant on your desk or a larger one on the ground. The plants will help to provide fresh air, which can help your mind to stay clear.
Design Your Ideal Work Station
The type of office equipment does not matter nearly as much as the companies who sell these items want you to believe but they are still worth considering.
Get a Good Chair
If you work sitting, having a good chair is essential. Sitting for long periods of time puts a large amount of pressure on our spine and hip bones, pressure that our body just wasn’t designed to handle. Like with everything else “there is no ‘best’ chair that will perfectly suit everyone, but there are some features that you should look for”
- Check the chair for adequate upper and middle back support.
- Make sure the seat is the right size for you
- Examine the chair’s lumbar support.
- Make sure the backrest can be adjusted or reclined.
An ergonomic chair can do a lot to minimize the strain placed on our body. But is only the first step. Ideally you would walk around throughout the day.
Get a Standing Desk
If you don’t have one stay calm. Sit-stand desks are not exactly inexpensive. They’re fine if you like them and may help you to get more focused. However, the research in recent years only showed that too much sitting over the course of a day is not healthy. Instead, many health professionals recommend that people at work take frequent walking breaks. Replacing sitting with standing does not fulfill that recommendation. Use your personal judgment here but don’t think getting a standing desk will get you enough exercise.
Get a Treadmill Desk
Treadmill desks are a great way to get more movement into normal work.
Sitting for hours on end is bad for your health and a treadmill desk can help you achieve more movement during day.
Adjust Your Desk Height
Most desks are around the same height, but a few adjustments can make a difference in maintaining a good posture.
A good strategy for checking if a desk has the right height:
When you sit at the desk, rest your arms at your sides, keeping your elbow at a 90-degree angle and your upper arms in line with your torso. If the desk is the right height, your hands should rest comfortable on the desk.
If you cannot adjust the height of your desk, make sure to make adjustments with your chair to compensate.
Adjust Monitor Height
The top of your screen should be at or slightly below eye level. Make sure that your eyes look slightly downward when viewing the middle of the screen.
A good rule of thumb is to position the monitor at an arm’s length distance. The larger your screen, the more distance you will want. Try to eliminate any glare from windows and lights.
Use an Ergonomic Keyboard
Ergonomic keyboards are more about comfort than health. Split keyboards help larger people keep their wrists straight, but don’t offer much benefit to others.
More important than the type of keyboard you use is to make sure to break up your keyboard use with other activities.
Just with choosing the right chair and desk:
Other things are much more important to protect your focus. For example
Keep Your Work Area Clean
It’s hard to stay focused and apply yourself to work if your workspace is messy and cluttered. Spend a few minutes at the end of each day to clean your workspace.
Remove anything that might distract you.
Keep everything you need close by to reduce the chances of getting distracted.
Optimize Your Digital Environment
This article gathers tips to stay focused at work and just like optimizing your physical environment is to organize your digital environment. That’s why you need to pay close attention to these tips that will enhance your focus.
Contrary to what a lot of people claim, multitasking is actually a myth. Doing several things at once probably sounds efficient. But what really happens is that you are not able to focus on any of the tasks properly. By the end of the day, you wouldn’t have accomplished anything on your to-do list.
Therefore, I advise you to break down your tasks and give each of them your full focus. Of course, when necessary, you might have to juggle more than one task. But during most of your day, try to finish one task at a time.
Have Shortcuts for All Routinely Used Programs
See, it takes the smallest distraction for your mind to drift away. I know this for a fact. So it’s best you minimize any such distraction. One way to achieve that is to put all the computer programs you use into one folder. Or better, create shortcuts on your desktop.
In addition to that, make sure your computer is protected with good antivirus software so that you don’t waste time checking whether devices are safe for use.
Remove Anything You Don’t Need
Creating shortcuts to the programs you frequently use is a great way of saving time. But that isn’t enough. The next step is to remove all the programs you don’t need.
By that, I mean remove all those video games, as well as the desktop version of Instagram, WhatsApp, etc. That way, you can rest assured that your desktop won’t distract you until you go looking for a distraction.
Switch off Notifications
It’s okay to go “MIA” every now and then. If necessary, switch your devices off or change your status to “Do not disturb”.
I understand that the reason why we choose not to do that is the possibility of an emergency. But the truth is, not every phone call is an emergency. More often than not, it’s just another bored person looking to kill some of their time.
Even if something terrible did happen, practically speaking, you cannot reverse fate. Plus, nowadays, most phones have the “priority calls/notifications” option. That means there is no need to freak out every time you are expected to put your phone away. You can always turn your notifications back on after you’re done with your work, or most of it, at least.
Stay Away From Social Networking Sites
Did you know? Every time you check social media, your body releases dopamine. Dopamine is the hormone responsible for feelings of pleasure and is the main reason why we easily get carried away on social media.
The problem is that every time you check Facebook or Instagram, you read something new and interesting. When that piece of information enters your mind, your focus shifts from your work to what you just found out.
So if you want to know how to stay focused, particularly while at work, start by cutting down on social media. Learn to discipline yourself by checking social media only when you have some extra time. Believe me, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Use a chrome extention like StayFocusd if you need it. Once you get used to it, it becomes no big deal.
Before you start your social media detox, I advise you to check out relevant YouTube videos. So many bloggers such as Matt D’avella and the likes have shared their strategies for cutting down social media. I’m sure you’ll find them very helpful.
In the meantime, I’d recommend you to install software such as Newsfeed Burner and AdBlock. Newsfeed Burner is a great piece of software that will limit distractions from websites such as LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook. AdBlock does exactly what its name suggests. It will block advertisements on YouTube, Facebook, etc.
Keep Your Desktop Clean
The environment around you is the input your give your mind. If it is messy and dirty, your mind will get anxious and troubled. On the other hand, if it is neat and clean, your mind will feel more relaxed and focused. So if you want to improve your focus, then you must start by organizing both your physical desktop and the virtual one too.
Optimize Your Browser
Nowadays, most of our work is done on the Internet. Therefore, it is essential that we find a way to make the most of it. If we fail to do that, then the Internet will make the most of us instead. Here is some software that has gained popularity among consumers for improving browser efficiency and productivity.
- Momentum — This is a tool both Tim Ferriss, the author of Tools of Titans, and I strongly recommend. It acts as a personalized dashboard and provides inspirational quotes, photos, weather forecasts, and a customizable to-do list as well.
- Evernote — Sometimes, your mind chooses to shut off when you feel overwhelmed with all the pending tasks and deadlines. With Evernote, you can easily record ideas in note, voice and picture format. You can also break down large projects into smaller, simpler tasks that can be achieved easily.
- Sloth Worth — Trust me, you’re going to thank me for introducing you to this software. What this extension does is to calculate how much time you waste on unnecessary websites and how much money you could have made if you were working instead.
- FindFocus — Unlike other apps that block distractions, FindFocus will motivate you to wait until the time is right for a distraction. It will help you develop healthier, more productive habits and give you control over your overwhelming desires.
- Airstory — whether you’re a CEO or a YouTube blogger, writing is an inevitable part of any career. With Airstory, you might be able to write more effective content, on any platform.
- LastPass — LastPass doesn’t only remember passwords. It makes browsing so efficient for you that it generates strong passwords that hackers won’t be able to figure out. Plus, it fills in your details when you purchase something online, provides access to trusted friends and family in case of emergency, and stores digital records on your behalf.
- Grammarly — Indeed, writing is a very tedious task. It requires a lot of checking and verifying and as a result, you can easily get bored and shift your focus to something more entertaining. With Grammarly, you’ll be able to get your work done in no time because it will check the grammar and detect plagiarism if there is any.
- Loom — With Loom, you’ll be able to record, narrate and share videos almost at the same time. That saves a lot of time spent on streaming, downloading and uploading. This new-found efficiency will then make a remarkable impact on your ability to stay focused. That’s because no time is wasting between the small tasks.
- Ninja Outreach — Have you ever come to a point where you get so exasperated with a task, that you just stop all related work and watch Friends instead? That’s usually what marketers go through in their search for good prospects. With Ninja Outreach, you will have access to influencers and their emails. That means you won’t have to go on a full-fledged search for their details — definitely a time-saver.
- CloudApp — This app will make your work more interesting and efficient. You can record instant videos and send them to your customers instead of boring old emails. As a result, you can make them feel special and win some extra time for yourself as well.
I know I’ve mentioned the names of a lot of software applications. However, they are all unique in their services and will definitely help you stay focused during your work. In most cases, they make your work so efficient that there is no time to waste or lose focus.
Limit the Time You Spend on Email
Most communication occurs via email. So if you spend too much time there, you will only end up receiving information without doing anything practical about it.
So how to stay focused on a task when you’re being bombarded with emails?
The best way is to dedicate a certain period of your day to checking and replying to emails. Then, during the rest of the day, you can implement the message in the email.
Boomerang is an awesome application that you could install to make the best use of your emails. Through Boomerang, you can schedule a time to send emails, receive read receipts and reminders when your email hasn’t been responded to yet. What’s more, it also helps you put together an effective email that will guarantee an impact on the recipient.
Simplify Your Techstack
If you are a solopreneur, online marketer, blogger or online entrepreneur you want to simplify your tech stack. That’s why I try to run my business on only two platforms.
I use WordPress to publish content like this blog post and use Kartra for all my emails, SalesFunnels, memberships sites etc.
It took a while until I realized that I really love to optimize posts like this for SEO instead of social media.
All this talk about cutting down social media is great. But what about the people who earn a living through social media?
For you, I have some other alternatives that will show you how to stay focused during your work. Again, thanks to modern technology, there is plenty of software that can assist you in making the most of your time.
For example, if you’re a social media entrepreneur, you should have software such as Socialbee, which will post at scheduled times. That gives your mind time off social media and extra time to focus on planning and brainstorming. Some other applications that will help you organize your social media are Buffer (which allows you to manage all your social platforms in one place), Missinglettr (which will analyze your content and make it more engaging) and Anchor.fm (which will help you create and distribute unlimited podcasts).
For YouTube users, I would recommend TubeBuddy. TubeBuddy will help you market your content in less than half the time it usually takes.
Take Breaks to Increate Efficiency and Focus
Think of all the times you lose focus when working (or even studying). Most of the time, it’s because there is so much work to do that you just don’t feel like doing anything at all. That mindset usually leads to taking some time off and scrolling through Instagram. Two hours later, you find yourself still scrolling through Instagram, with absolutely no motivation to get back to work.
All the software applications I shared with you above will assist you in your work. So, you will be able to finish your work before it gets too long and boring. In other words, you’ll be able to finish your work before you lose focus.
Control Your Phone, Before Your Phone Controls You
Most of what I just shared is related to a computer. However, the bigger focus-thief is the smartphone. With a smartphone, you can scroll through Facebook for hours while working on the computer at the same time. It deceives you into thinking you’re working but the truth is, you’re neither focused on your work nor on Facebook.
But don’t worry. Perhaps smartphone manufacturers foresaw this dilemma. So, they created apps (or recommend them, at least) to help their consumers through this crisis. Examples of such applications for your Android are Offtime, Flipd, and StayFocused. Just like their names suggest, all of those apps have come to be known as great ways to reduce phone usage.
Build Emotional Strength
One very strong reason why most people struggle to focus on any task is that of poor mental health. Usually, people who suffer from anxiety and depression tend to get lost in thoughts very easily. For you, I have some special ways that are sure to show you how to stay focused while working. Just remember to keep pushing harder even if you can’t see the results immediately.
Take a break from work and watch something funny. Or even better, call a friend and share a few minutes in laughter. If neither of these options works, then give yourself a timed social media break. However, make sure you use only one platform. If you want to check your Facebook, don’t try to watch YouTube videos as you do that. Remember that you’re trying to get your mind to focus on one task and not to make it multitask.
For some people, their natural psychology causes them to get stressed out easily. So don’t beat yourself up too much when you feel overwhelmed. The only problem is that such a feeling can hinder your concentration.
Focus on Your Breath & Meditate
Meditation is one of the best way to overcome stress. You might also find the Calm app useful in this case. Even HeadSpace has similar functions and can help you organize your thoughts.
In the meantime, you could try the following:
- Sit back, relax and close your eyes.
- Take slow, voluntary breaths and gradually let go of everything in your mind.
- Repeat this until you are fully aware of the time your lungs inflate and deflate.
- Do this for about 5 minutes.
Take Some Time off to Relax and De-Stress
I cannot emphasize this enough.
Nowadays, people seriously underestimate the need to take a break and relax. Remember, being busy is not the same as being efficient. You could work 24/7/365 but if you’re not doing the right things, all of that hard work would just be a waste of time.
On another note, here are some applications that I think should help you take a break from work. This break should be just enough to calm your nerves and preserve your focus.
- Brain.fm — Brain.fm is like a re-charging station for your brain. I already mentions this app but it plays not only music that will stimulate cognition but also music to relax and even to improve your sleep.
- Calm — This app acts just like Brain.fm. It also has facilities to coach you through meditation and yoga.
- Sleep As Android — Sleep is so important. But the thing about sleep is that both too much and too little of it can have extremely negative side-effects. Sleep As Android can curtail some of these effects by waking you up during REM sleep which is the best time to wake up. It also tracks your sleep cycle, reminds you when it’s time for bed, reduces snoring, etc.
Avert Your Gaze From the Computer Screen to Something More Natural
If you have a plant on your desk (which I strongly recommend), observe the plant. Spend a few seconds to notice the patterns on its leaves. The point behind that exercise is to give your brain fresh stimuli. Then, when you return to your computer, your senses will react to the stimuli from your work again.
Try the 20-20-20 Rule.
What’s that? Every 20 minutes, stare at something that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Again, this serves the same purpose as the previous exercise.
When you’re really too exhausted from work and your brain just wants to get distracted, play Tetris for some time. I know this sounds silly but trust me, researchers found that Tetris provides the perfect distraction because the game engages your brain’s visual and spatial systems — which are used while indulging in a craving fantasy. Playing Tetris keeps these parts of the brain distracted long enough to allow the cravings to go away. Just make sure you set a timer and don’t play too long. After Tetris Break is over, go back to your work.
Take a Power Nap
“A heuristic on whether you have control of your life: can you take naps?”Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Make sure this nap doesn’t exceed 20 minutes. I recommend an everyday midday nap because it gives you energy for the rest of the day.
How to Increase Your Focus by Optimizing Your Social Environment
Another important area to improve the quality of your work (and your life) is to improve your social environment. Even the best setup will not help you if you are surrounded by people who drag you down. That’s why it’s so important to
Surround Yourself With the Right Kind of People
No matter what you’re going through (even if it’s a focus dilemma), the people in your life play an important role in it. They can either help you through the problem or make it worse. It’s highly unlikely that you’re the only person involved in your work. Even if you’re a solo entrepreneur.
So how to stay focused in a workplace filled with people? Here are some ways that should help you out:
Ask for Silence
The most important favor your colleagues can do you is to be quiet while you’re working. By the way, it is your right to request silence in your workplace. So don’t be afraid to make that request! Even if they give you “the look” initially, they are sure to tone it down afterward. And that’s all that matters.
If you’re still too anxious to ask your colleagues to keep it down, share your new work policies with them. Explain to them that you want to become more focused on your work. Perhaps you could even ask them how to stay focused while at work. It’s highly likely they will understand and leave you alone during work hours. What’s more, you might even influence them to pick up this new habit.
Stay Focused by Saying No More Often
It’s basically impossible to remain focused if you don’t master this tip. Focus in it’s essence means saying no. I know it’s not easy. I’m still struggling with it. In fact, sometimes it can be so tough to say no that you end up giving in and just saying yes.
So how do you say no without being (or feeling like) a jerk?
The short version: just don’t be a jerk.
If you make focus a priority in your life (and you should) you have no choice but to say no more often. In fact it should be your default answer to everything. Don’t feel guilty, just don’t say no in a nasty way, you’re not a jerk.
Plain and simple.
We already covered the first part that will make saying no easier:
If you plan your day and have clear priorities you can say: I would love to do that but I’m fully committed to these other projects. I cannot take on any more.
Even better is to design your environment, so you don’t have to say no personally.
Brainstorm, Then Thrive on the Adrenaline
Brainstorm with your colleagues about a stimulating topic. Hearing all their interesting ideas will trigger your own cognition. Then, thrive on the new adrenaline-boost by doing as much work as you possibly can. However, here’s my warning. If you don’t get to work immediately, the exhilarating drive to change your life will die down.
Choose the Right Work-Buddy
I can’t emphasize this point enough. You could try all the systems under the sun, but if the people around you aren’t supportive, none of it will work. So try your best to pick an efficient and organized work-buddy. Even if you don’t find someone of that nature, avoid working around lazy and inefficient people. Believe me, their approach will eventually rub off on you.
Building Better Habits To Improve Your Focus
Making changes to your environment is a great way to enhance your focus but ultimately you need to develop better habits to avoid brain overload when you are at work and when you are away from it. Ideally, you start here and
Make the Most of Your Morning Hours
If you’re a writer, a content-creator or even a marketer, the morning hours are a golden opportunity to put your brain to work and getting creative. Personally, that’s when I find my creativity at its peak. It is also psychologically proven to be the best time to work since your brain is refreshed after sleep and ready for a new day.
Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” is a highly recommended habit you should try out. All you need to do is to take three blank pages and do something visually stimulating early in the morning. By that, I mean draw, write, sketch, color, etc.
Create Success Rituals
Those days when your life revolved around school are long gone. Now that you have control over your own routine, it is crucial that you build a good one. That’s why I call them rituals (which has something sacred to it). That will help you develop self-discipline. As a result, you’ll find that you’re able to do anything you set your mind to, without getting distracted too easily.
Before you build a ritual, I advise you to observe your lifestyle first. Figure out when you work best and make the most of those hours. For some, like myself, the morning hours are ideal. But for others, it could be late at the night. One software that will help you organize your day and manage your time wisely is RescueTime. It will also provide tools for you to be to more productive in the future.
After you have built a solid routine and you’re confident you will follow it, change it a bit. By this, I mean to add in a few fun activities or just whip out your notebook and start your own journal out of the blue. Doing that will make life a bit more interesting for you. But unlike a completely undisciplined life, this way you know what you’re doing. Plus, you can always easily switch back to the previous routine.
Make Punctuality a Priority
Here’s my best answer to “how to stay focused?” — sure you start your day right. The bitter truth is, you cannot achieve this by showing up late at work. Poor punctuality will only stress you out before the day has even started. A negative morning will definitely hinder your concentration during the rest of the day.
Overcome the First Few Seconds of Distraction
Yes! Distractions only last a few seconds. If you get past those few seconds, the urge to use social media or play a game while working will die down eventually. By eventually, I mean in minutes.
Stay Focused at Worked At Work by Optimizing Your Body
What you feed your body isn’t only for metabolism. What you eat and how much you move affects your cognition, your size and even your ability to concentrate.
Think of Thanksgiving dinner. Have you ever felt like you can finish up some office work after eating? I’m sure you haven’t. Likewise, even your daily meals can have an impact on your mood and your concentration.
Easy Changes to Adopt
This stay focused guide is not a guide about eating. You probably already know what’s good for you but common knowledge is not always common practice.
Here are some reminders and ideas of changes you can make
Start With Good, Hearty Breakfast
Start your day by drinking a glass of water, eating a green smoothie, or protein shake or anything you deem a healthy breakfast.
Consume Caffeine Only When You Really Need It
If you implement all the tips in this guide there should be no need to drink coffee to stay alert and focused. If you need caffeine try green tea instead.
Cut Down on Alcohol as Much as Possible
I’m from Germany. I love beer. But whenever I drink it I notice the effect it has on my productivity. Drink as little as you dare. Make it a zero if you can.
Completely Put All Drugs (Marijuana, Weed, Etc.) Aside.
There are people who experiment with microdoses of LSD to improve focus. Regardless of what anyone has to say about them, drugs are dangerous for your health and if you follow this guide you don’t need them.
Drink Plenty of Water
This is probably one of the focus tips you hear most often but don’t act upon. Drink more water. PERIOD.
I’ll keep this short. Just move more. If you are not moving enough and exercise start with a walk around the block or even better in nature. Start simple and don’t overcomplicate it.
Consult Your Doctor
Find out if anything is wrong with your body. Talk to an expert and see if you can improve part of your diet because you have allergies you don’t know about.
Take A Cold Shower
If you’re a home-based entrepreneur, take a quick, cool water shower when you feel less alert. A cold shower should stimulate your senses and help you focus better. (A hot shower, on the other hand, will dull down your senses and make you drowsy)
Of course, there are other natural remedies to increase your focus. Try everything that does not have any downside.