With so many things to do in one day, how do we ever manage to stay focused? Between school, career, extracurriculars, volunteerism, and family and friends it sometimes seems as though I'm spinning in circles. When there is work to be done, it is easy to get distracted by social media, chores, pets, or anything else. But, if you can focus on the task at hand, and not allow yourself to be pulled aside, you will get your work done quicker and more accurately.
It’s easy to say, “stay focused.” But, how do you accomplish that?
Here are ten ways to stay focused and get more done during the day.
1. Create a List
My number one tip is creating lists. To-do lists, work lists, personal lists, shopping lists, honey-do lists, and the list goes on and on. I can’t think of any occasion that a list isn’t appropriate. Lists keep your tasks and goals in the forefront of your mind. It helps you prioritize and, maybe most importantly, it allows you to see how much you have finished.
2. Stop Multi-Tasking
Forget multitasking; it’s overrated. Simplify what it is that you want to get done and focus on just one task at a time. You will most likely cross it off of your to-do list much more quickly than if you were trying to do three things at once.
3. Find Your Passion
Be sure to enjoy your work. If you feel as though your job is pointless or uninteresting, you will have a more difficult time keeping at it. Try to find work and projects that engage you and make you feel resourceful and important.
Struggling to find your dream job? Check out this post for ways to find your career passion.
4. Get Real
Be realistic, both in the amount of work you expect to accomplish and how long you estimate it will take you. If you are rushing or trying to get something done, just to say it’s done, the quality won’t likely be as strong. Setting realistic expectations is key.
5. Create a Productive Work Environment
Get comfortable. Make sure that your work area is clean and organized. Do you have a comfortable chair? A desk at an appropriate height? If your back is aching or your eyes are squinting from poor lighting, your productivity will suffer. Simple adjustments to your work area can have a dramatic impact.
6. Keep a Positive Mindset
Stay positive. It’s easy to get bogged down with the difficulty of daily life. But, if you attack your workload with a positive attitude, it’s much easier to stay on task without your mind wandering. Undoubtedly, you’ll get more done in a shorter amount of time.
7. Prioritize Your Tasks
Prioritize. There is no way to accomplish everything in one sitting. I love lists for this reason because it’s easy to number tasks and move some to the top, or bottom. Again, be realistic and choose to focus on what needs your attention most in that given period.
8. Feed Your Brain
Have a snack and increase your productivity and focus. Snacks can be distracting if you let them. But having some water and simple snacks close by can help keep you focused. You won’t need to get up in search of them and munching on something can be calming.
9. Turn Off and Tune In
Turn off your notifications. If you have a phone or e-mail system constantly pinging you, it is going to lessen your productivity. If every time a tweet comes in, you read it, you’ll be ten clicks and a half an hour later before you realize you need to get back to work. Set a time for checking emails and other messages, like at the beginning and end of your work time.
10. Take a Break
Know when it’s time for a break. It’s not healthy to work too much, and you don’t want to become burnt out. Know your limits and when it’s time for a break, take it. This, in turn, will make the time you spend working that much more productive.
When the extra-stressful, busy days hit, it’s easy for our vision of what is truly important to get hazy and blurred. That’s when it’s the most important to take the time to refocus and perhaps make that list to prioritize everything.
When you lose focus, it’s easy to become distracted and overwhelmed. When that happens, try to zero back in on your motivation and your main personal focus. For each of us it may be different, but for each of us, it’s equally important.
As a work-at-home woman, how do you stay focused? We'd love to hear your tips!
Originally published August 19, 2010. Content updated on May 3, 2017.