Focus is a valuable ability that can help people complete their tasks at work and promote productivity in their professional lives. Accomplishing a goal can be hard work. But even if a project is something you are passionate about and want to complete, distractions such as social media, doubts and other tasks can make it nearly impossible to concentrate on it.
While success demands many things from us, willpower and determination always come up at the top of the list. Many people believe that we are born with determination and those that succeed are simply the fortunate ones who are born with an abundant supply. But if you ask any successful person they will tell you they were not born with more determination; they always found a way to harness and use what they have more effectively.
Tips On How To Stay Focused And Reach Your Goals
Understand what motivates you
One way you can stay focused on your goals at work is to understand what motivators are most effective for your personality. Here are a few types of motivation you can use to stay focused on your goals:
Incentives: With incentive-based motivation, you reward yourself for reaching certain milestones. For example, you may decide that if you finish a large project by the end of the day, you’ll treat yourself to a nice dinner.
Achievement: Another form of motivation is achievement-based motivation, which is motivation based on the possibility of achieving something as a result of your work. Examples of achievements are promotions and awards.
Fear: Fear-based motivation can be a powerful way to incentivize focus. Fear of not reaching your goals or being reprimanded for not finishing tasks can help motivate you to concentrate on your tasks at work.
You can experiment with different incentives to determine how you can motivate yourself to focus more on your tasks. Learning about what motivates you at work can help you stay focused on achieving your goals.
Remove Distractions That Are Not Related to Your Goals
Do you prefer to listen to music while you’re working? Or white noise? I know when I don’t want to work but I have to, I’ll turn on the TV so there is at least something around me that makes it seem less like work. But can you stay productive with this type of noise in the background?
Research shows that environmental noise such as background music, cars, and conversations has a negative impact on most people’s performance. However, many of these noises are easy to tune out (turn off your music, close your door, etc.), so even a little bit of a reduction can improve your performance.
One source of background noise that researchers have found to be the most damaging to others’ productivity is hearing someone say a few words here and there, with pauses in between. To make this worse, this is also one of the most common background noises you will encounter in an office setting as your colleagues engage in small talk here and there or when someone nearby is on the phone.
However, this isn’t to say that other types of noise (music or white noise) are completely fine. A meta-analysis that reviewed the impact of listening to music on performance found that while listening to music may improve one’s mood, it’s disruptive when it comes to reading comprehension and tasks of that sort.
If you aren’t able to get away from a noisy environment when you’re trying to work, should you buy a white noise machine to drown everything out? Maybe. However, most people are more productive when they’re working in a quiet atmosphere than when they’re listening to white noise. One study found that white noise reduced children’s ability to remember things later on when compared to no noise at all. However, kids who typically have a hard time paying attention did better when white noise was in the background.
Write down your goals
Another strategy for focus is to write your goals and keep the list in a visible location. This can help remind you of the reason you’re working and improve your focus. Writing down your goals can also help you create a plan for achieving them.
Another advantage to writing down your goals is that this action can give you the ability to assess the strength of your goals. The ideal goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. These attributes can help you ensure you reach your goals. For example, setting a goal to complete a project by the end of the quarter is an example of a SMART goal.
The most difficult duties will not get easier the more we fret about them or put them off. We will only waste energy that would be better spent by just digging in. Get after the hardest job right away while you are still fresh and have the energy.
Research has shown that our minds are sharpest in the morning and that is when we should tackle the tough jobs. After these are out of the way, we can relax and take care of the more routine work that doesn’t require much in the way of mental strain, ability, and energy.
Instead of trying to do a million things at once, take a step back and tackle one task at a time. And while your inclination might be to start your day with busy work — like checking emails — and then move onto to the harder things, you should try to get your brain moving by challenging yourself with with a bigger, more creative endeavor first thing.
Set milestones for your goals
Once you’ve set a goal, you can set milestones to achieving it. This is particularly helpful when you have a large goal to achieve. Setting milestones can help you stay focused by breaking a larger goal into smaller parts that can feel more achievable.
For example, if you set a goal to launch a small business by the end of the year, you can set milestones for writing a business plan, getting investors and launching a website.
Get a recommendation for a yoga or meditation class, or even make it an office outing so everyone get some time to quiet their minds. Or look online for a plethora of apps and platforms whose stock and trade is mindfulness, like Meditation Made Simple, Calm and Headspace. For slightly more of a monetary investment, you could look into wearable tech like Thync, a device that produces electrical pulses to help your brain decrease stress.
Create and follow a plan
Setting milestones is one form of planning to achieve goals. Planning can help you focus by helping you identify the smaller tasks that are involved in a large goal. Depending on the scope of your goal, you can use the following strategies for planning:
Scheduling your time: One strategy for goal planning is to schedule time to work toward your goal. You can use digital tools or a weekly planner to help you schedule tasks.
Making to-do lists: To-do lists offer a way for you to visualize your tasks as you complete them. You can create daily, weekly and monthly to-do lists with tasks that help you work toward your goal to help you maintain focus.
Practice time management
Time management is a valuable skill that can help you maintain your focus on goals and promote productivity. Managing your time effectively can help you ensure you have enough time to complete your goal. Here are a few time-management techniques that you can use to promote focus:
Quadrant system: The quadrant system for time management involves separating your daily tasks into four categories based on the tasks’ urgency and importance. The categories are manage, focus, avoid and limit. This strategy can help you focus on important tasks while reminding yourself to avoid distractions.
52-17 rule: The 52-17 rule is a method of time management in which you work for 52 minutes and take a break for 17 minutes.
Pomodoro technique: With the Pomodoro technique you work for 100 minutes and take a 25 minute break. This technique can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals.
Consider your work environment
Another element to consider is your work environment when you want to maintain concentration on your goals. If your work environment includes distractions, consider ways to limit or minimize them. Here are a few examples of ways you can avoid distractions to focus on your goals:
Clean your desk: A clean desk where you can easily find your supplies can help you maintain focus and mental clarity as you work toward your goals.
Use headphones: If you work in an area with other people, you can use headphones to listen to music or other sounds that promote focus.
Just as positivity can be powerful for productivity and motivation, so can negativity act as a barrier. However, avoiding negative thoughts isn’t always possible. If you experience doubts or frustration as you work to complete your goals, you can address these thoughts and their validity. Addressing negativity can help you overcome this challenge and remain motivated.
Visualize the results
Another motivator for concentration is visualizing the results of achieving your goal. Thinking about the outcome of your work can help you improve your dedication and focus toward your goals. It can also help you encourage yourself to keep working when you experience challenges or setbacks.
Create a vision board, a mind movie, or some system that serves as a constant reminder of what you are working toward. The “why” behind the goal is crucial as it will serve as a motivator.
Suppose the reason that you want to earn $10 million is to start a school in a third-world country. Have a clear vision of what the school would look like so you can imagine it on a regular basis. Set aside regular time daily, if only five minutes, to visualize this goal. The more details you can put in, the better. Become emotionally involved with the visualization by putting music, videos, or anything that provides you with an emotional charge. The emotional connect is hugely important, as this will motivate you to keep moving toward your goal.
Ways to improve your focus
Below is a list of strategies you can use to improve your focus:
Limit your focus: One way to improve your concentration skills is to limit the number of tasks you have to focus on. Avoiding multitasking can help you improve your ability to focus.
Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is a type of meditation that focuses on the present moment. Practicing mindfulness can help you manage distractions to improve your focus.
Minimize distractions: Another strategy you can use to improve your ability to focus is to recognize and limit distractions while you’re working. For example, if your attention often strays from a work task to your phone, you can leave your phone in another room or in a drawer to reduce this distraction.
Take short breaks: It may sound counterintuitive, but taking short breaks can help you improve your concentration. You can experiment with taking breaks between tasks or setting a timer to take a break once per hour to determine which strategy works best for improving your ability to focus.
Distractions can range from being mildly irritating to being completely damaging to your personal and professional intentions. Don’t sweat the small stuff and remember to not let things bother you too much.
A plan is only effective if you follow through by taking the appropriate action. Pick a few of these tips to start with and commit to them today. Soon enough, you will realize that you do have a good amount of control over preventing distractions from getting in your way.