Have trouble getting (and staying) focused? You’re definitely not alone. Even the best of us get stumped when it comes to how to really be productive amidst everything that’s going on around us. And WFH hasn’t made things any easier, creating even more distractions (like, say, kids popping into zoom meetings). But there are fool-proof ways -12 of them in fact- to get you back on track and fully focused.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand for instant improvement. Embracing productivity and a renewed sense of focus will require some commitment. But it all starts with making simple changes to your routine and focusing on the areas that YOU can control. Once you’ve made those adjustments, you’ll be well on your way to a more productive (and empowered) you.
Keep scrolling to see 13 ways you can get focused, boost productivity, and make the most of each day.
1. Set A Consistent Wake-Up Time
Productivity and consistency go hand in hand (and you really can’t have one without the other). And establishing a daily routine starts as soon as you wake up. Resist the urge to hit the snooze (we know it’s tempting) and stick to the same time to rise and shine – every day. Consistent sleep patterns are proven to improve performance during waking hours and help you remain focused throughout the day.
2. Start the Day With H2O
While many of us are programmed to reach for a cup of coffee first thing (and avoid any interactions until we’ve had that first sip),
drinking a glass of water straight away is a better option to set you up for success. After 8 hours without any hydration, it will help wake you up, get your metabolism running, and aid digestion. And make sure you keep sipping throughout the day to ensure you stay at your best.
3. Schedule Your To-Do List
A standard to-do list is all well and good, but to get the most out of your day, try scheduling your tasks. Assigning a time period to tasks (20 minutes for responding to e-mails, 15 minutes for a project update) will make better use of a busy day and keep you on track. You can even use an app to help remind you when you’ve reached a time period – and when top keep things moving.
4. Ditch The Distractions
WFH presents its own set of challenges – including even more ways to distract you. But even when the dog is barking, kids are calling, or social media beckons, you CAN stay in the productivity zone. If you don’t have a quiet room to work from, a pair of noise-canceling headphones is a must to make auditory distractions disappear. To combat all the commotion on your phone, mute all your notifications or install an app that will block certain procrastinating apps for a set time period each day.
5. Caffeinate In Smaller Doses
While you may be tempted to order an extra-large latte to really get you going, bigger benefits actually come from smaller servings of caffeine. Sticking to smaller servings throughout the day (under 100mg, or an 8 oz cup of coffee) actually gives you a bigger mental boast than gulping one large cup. Just know that caffeine affects everyone differently, so find the right amount to create your optimal focus.
6. Focus On One Task At A Time
Multi-tasking may be the norm in the modern workplace, but more tasks often mean less productivity. Yep, single-tasking is proven to be a more effective method for actually getting things done – and done well. And when you really focus on the one thing you’re doing (and eliminate even 3-second distractions) you’ll be more efficient, accurate, and well on the way to increased productivity.
7. Build-In Breaks
Long periods of doing almost anything (especially sitting in front of a computer) are an easy way to feel burned out. So try taking a mini-break every 45 minutes to give your mind and body time to take re-fresh. Just 5 minutes of stretching, deep breathing, or even closing your eyes will benefit you once you get back to work, and keep you feeling focused longer.
8. Keep Yourself Fueled Up
Think of productivity as a fire: to keep that flame burning, it’s gonna need fuel (or in your case, healthy snacks). So re-fuel your body when you feel that flame dwindling! Trail mix, veggies and hummus, almonds, or yogurt are all excellent pick-me-ups for when you start to feel sluggish – and will keep you from suffering a serious sugar crash.
9. Deal With Something Just Once
We’ve all found ourselves saying “I’ll take care of that later”… only to then find it buried in our in-box. But a more productive approach is to deal with it once – and be done. For appointments, meetings, or requests from co-workers, take the time to make an immediate plan of action instead of putting it off – and you’ll never have to go digging through your in-box again.
10. Make Time For “Deep Work”
Not all work is created equal. In fact, some of it requires us to really buckle down and find our focus. For this “deep work” schedule a few hours each day where you can really dive into tasks, totally uninterrupted. Try to leave this time devoid of meetings or other office tasks, and you’ll see the effects of efficiency in no time at all.
11. Check News & Social While You Exercise
It’s soooo tempting to grab your phone and take a quick look. But a smarter way to browse social media and keep up to date on the news is to check it while also boosting your endorphins. Save scrolling for during or after a workout – instead of during work – and you’ll have a dedicated time for all those TikTok videos.
12. Integrate A “Shutdown” Routine
The lines between work and home have definitely gotten more blurry. That’s why creating a practice of “shutting down” for the day is so essential. Powering down your computer, turning on music, or dimming the lights are all actions you can take to make it clear that the workday is winding down (and that e-mail CAN wait until tomorrow). Creating this separation will prevent feelings of fatigue, and keep you sharp for the next day.