I know I’m not alone when I say I have a problem focusing. I just finished my second week of work after our vacation and there are still times I feel like I have vacation brain.
Regardless of vacation brain, I’m a daydreamer by nature and I often times have problems focusing and staying on task. Since it’s something I have to work on I’m sharing my go-to tips for clearing my head and improving my focus.
1 – Make a List / Brain Dump
I make two lists each day. One is my task list; everything I need to get done that day, both big and small, goes on that list. This helps me so I don’t forget anything and also helps me see everything all at once so I can prioritize.
The second list is for those thoughts that pop up into my head that are not work related and distract me from what I’m currently working on. For example, “oh, I need to remember ‘fill in the blank’ “, or “I wonder if I can find my dog’s medication on Amazon instead of going to the store”. These thoughts go on a second list so I can take care of them on my break and not have to worry that I’ll forget about it later.
2 – Prioritize & Take One Task at a Time
Time blocking is a great way to prioritize. A lot of people use their calendar and task list on their computer. I actually prefer a notebook. After I make my list I then take each item and I start with the most important first. I Take into account how long I think a task is going to take and I create somewhat of a timeline for my day. It doesn’t have to be set in stone and you can make adjustments as needed.
Here’s an example.
- 8:00 – 8:45 Task One
- 8:45 – 9:00 Task Two
- 9:00 – 10:30 Task Three
- and so on
Also, finish one task at a time instead of bouncing back and forth between different items. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve jumped between projects because they were equally important and it took me twice as long to finish them. It’s easier and more efficient just to pick one and see it through until the end.
3 – Clear the Clutter
I don’t mean to go on a cleaning spree, but taking 5 minutes to clear your desk can also help clear your mind.
4 – Drink Cold Water
I actually prefer my water at room temperature (I know, I’m weird), but taking a sip of ice cold water has a way of snapping my senses and zaps my mind back into place.
5 – Sit Up Straight
There are added benefits to sitting up straight. Not only is it good for your back, but you also look more confident and professional. Sitting up straight helps with oxygen flow and increases your circulation, which in turn helps your concentration.
6 – Eat a Snack
I don’t know about you, but If I’m hungry I can’t focus. Plain and simple. Obviously the healthier the snack the better.
7 – Take a break
Sometimes it helps to get up and walk around. Having a small change of scenery and maybe a short conversation with someone in the office (or wherever you are) can do wonders.
8 – Sheer determination
Honestly, this is really what it comes down to. You can go through the whole list, but sometimes you just have to sit down, suck it up, and get it done. I even have to give myself a pep talk sometimes. Then buckle down and just do it. Simple (and sometimes difficult) as that.