Some productivity hacks to help you get more done with your days.
Focus is the ability to keep your mind on one chosen object at a time (like this blog post for instance) while ignoring the urge to deviate for another.
Unfortunately nowadays it’s a difficult task to stay on task with all of the distractions we have available to us. But what’s troubling are the effects that this can have on our work performance.
Better regulate your life and increase your focus with these life hacks:
1.) Functional Background
I’ll admit—before my friend Lauren K. Gray’s wisdom my desktop was a complete cluster f ….
Sorry just lost focus for a moment.
“If you’re like every single other person I know, you may or may not have a cluttered background on your laptop or iMac,” says Lauren.
This can negatively affect your work flow by impeding your ability to find important documents. The solution? A strategically functional background. In short, Lauren says that this organizes her tasks, cleans up her background, helps her actually find things and reduces stress.
Here’s what mine looks like now, and wow has it made a difference (created in Photoshop):
2.) Breakfast & Proper Dieting
I realize a lot of people have made it a habit to neglect breakfast. If that’s you, it’s time to fall back in love with the most important meal of the day.
Eating breakfast is essential to kickstarting your thinking processes after sleeping, which is essentially a starvation period for your body.
It doesn’t have to be fancy—although I religiously eat an omelette or healthy banana bread every morning—but just make sure it isn’t junk. That means waving goodbye to Captain Crunch and other sugary cereals.
Here are five, thought-boosting foods to get you started:
- Whole grains
3.) One Thing at a Time
Remember, focus is when we don’t deviate from the task at hand. A lot of times, however, we fool ourselves into thinking that we’re multitasking when we’re actually just letting our minds wander.
Make a list—or however you keep track of what needs done—and take it from the top, task by task. Refuse to be distracted (unless of course you get an urgent call from a client or someone asking for an immediate deliverable).
On a weekly basis, I create my to-do list in Evernote in a To-Do Notebook. This not only helps me prioritize and track my tasks, but provides a detailed archive of what I’ve done over weeks, months and years.
Here’s what I love about making to-do lists in Evernote:
- Access from all of my devices. I build these and utilize these primary on my laptop. If I’m sitting in the waiting room, or waiting for a colleague for lunch, I can easily add additional items that come to mind as I’m sitting there.
- Little checkboxes. Evernote offers list building with checkable boxes. This helps me keep track of what’s done and what’s still to go.
- Powerful search. Evernote has a dynamic search capability. If I’m looking for something, all I do is input a few keywords and it will pull up all matches.
- Tagging. The Evernote tag system allows you to assign category/keyword tags to notes. It makes categorization and searching that much easier.
4.) Regulate Your Coffee Schedule
The following graphic by Ryoko from ILoveCoffee.jp depicts the best times to drink coffee based on your body’s natural cortisol levels.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that naturally energizes you. “Coffee times” are when those cortisol levels begin to dip.
Also, don’t be an abuser like I used to be. There was a time when I used to drink close to 10 cups a day (and maybe even more, but I’ll never admit to it). Limit yourself to four to six at the very max so that you don’t implode.
Drinking too much coffee can actually cripple your focus and energy levels rather than boost them.
5.) Set Start and End Times (and actually stop)
What I’ve found to be the most volatile destroyer of focus is a nearly non-stop work schedule. When I say to set start and end times, I don’t mean punch out of work right at five. Sometimes you have to stay a little later to finish projects and show your dedication and there’s nothing wrong with this.
I mean that after work, don’t go home and continue working indefinitely into the night every, single day of your life. This might help you get a lot done at first, but eventually you’ll stretch your focus so tightly that it will shatter. The worst part is that you don’t even immediately realize it until the day you ask, “Where’d my focus go?”
6.) Take At Least One Day Off (if possible)
Although it might not be a consistent life-long habit, do your best to take at least one day off a week. This will allow you to relax, recharge, spend time with family and do whatever you enjoy to do with your free time.
It also forces you to focus the rest of the week. If you know you have seven days a week to chip away at a project, you’ll probably be less likely to finish it. If you know you only have six days a week, you’ll maintain motivation to grind out your task list so that you can relax on the seventh day.
Again, this isn’t a life-long consistency. For example, sometimes during the start-up stage of your business or during crisis communications you’ll have to pull a seven-day work week. But don’t make this the schedule of your entire life. It will stretch your focus so tightly that eventually it will tear right in half. I guarantee it.
Here’s to better focus,