Recently I have been so busy with my offline business that my online business has taken a go slow. I have not been able to concentrate, I have been exhausted most evenings and just not in the mood to do anything else except vegetate. Not the best use of my time I am sure you will agree. Yes we all need to relax, but I should have put some thought into at least getting some online work done in that period. Better advanced planning, better use of time and a willingness to give myself that time would all have helped.
We all suffer from this, we work hard, or other commitments come along to distract us and sap our energy. But there are ways around it, there are ways you can commit to your work and take on those distractions. You just have to be willing to implement those ways and get into the habit of using them.
Here are 10 of the most powerful ways you need that will improve your concentration.
Plan your day
A clear objective at the start of the day is the best way to ensure you hit your targets and concentrate on what you need to do. A lack of plan will lead to confusion about what your actual goal is and the end result will be unfocused. You must define your goal clearly before you start. For instance, you want to write a post about tips to improve concentration, first what do you know about it? What have other people said about it? Have you implemented any of these ideas yourself? How many sources do you want to check before you create your post? How long will the post be that you want to create? Do you want to make it a general essay, or a top 10, 15, 20etc? Do you want to write a post or create a video? Break down what you need to do and set time limits on each part. The time you take to make your plan, while feeling that it is taking up time you need, will actually allow you to gain time later in the day as you will know exactly what your goals are and not to deviate from them. Another point to take on board is do not work constantly, take breaks. Make sure you work for only 90 minutes to 2 hours at a time at the most. More than this and you might start running out of steam, any less and you could spend more time working on what you want to do and less time doing it!
Which job is the most important? That is the job you need to focus on. Forget the small stuff until you actually have the time to do some of it. A simple thing is just to write down a list of all the tasks you want to do, and work out, which ones are the most important on that lists and which ones have the shortest deadlines. If you have a lot of tasks, break them down into other lists, your main tasks, less important tasks and then email/social media tasks maybe. Failing to prioritize your tasks if not straight away, will eventually lead to problems with your organisation and create more distractions.
No-one is immune to distractions; they are everywhere and are a good way to allow yourself to procrastinate. Too many of them and your whole day can turn into a bit of a waste. This is where the first point to prioritise tasks comes in. This is also where some self-will comes in. Try and leave emails, phone calls, social media etc. until you have completed your important tasks. Or if you cannot overcome your need to check out that email that has just pinged you, or that social media post, try and set aside small periods during the day to allow you to read them, rather than jumping on them every couple of minutes.
Set realistic goals
Tasks come in all shapes and sizes, some just feel so massive you can feel yourself becoming overwhelmed. This feeling is a warning that you are probably taking on too much and creates anxiety and stress. The best way to combat this feeling is to look at the task and break it down into smaller more manageable chunks. Make it so each part may only take you an hour or a day, or whatever you feel comfortable with. But try and ensure the goal is reachable. Can that long post be complete in that 30 minute slot you have set yourself? If you find yourself anxious about needing to create something before a certain day or time, always try and break it down to allow yourself to be more focused using realistic goals.
Set yourself deadlines
Everything you do needs a deadline to fit in with your daily plan and to help avoid procrastination. Long or short, it does not matter, the thing you need to work out is how long you will be able to concentrate on a task before it becomes too overwhelming or time constraining.
A deadline is a good thing or it can be a bad thing if used incorrectly. Give yourself too little time and you feel stressed, give yourself too much and you could start over complicating things.
If you are creating something, questions you should ask are how long do you want to give yourself to do it? When must it be done by?
Of course if it is your first time doing something you will probably not get the timing right. But that should not stop you giving yourself a deadline to complete something and learn from any errors you make. The trick is to not be too disappointed if and when you fail to complete something within your set deadline. Learn from it and next time you do something similar you will have a basis of time to work from.
Find a nice quiet and consistent place to work
People are trouble, stay away from them; they will take up your time and your energy and your willingness to work due to their distractions. TV, radio, the Internet (except for work) also should be avoided depending on the tasks you need to do. Basically avoid people until you have completed what you need to do within your plan and deadlines. Also try and work in the same space every day. Everything will be as you left it, everything will feel right. Working somewhere different every day can be disorienting and lead you to procrastinating about getting things right before you settle down and actually getting things done.
Learn a bit of patience
If you cannot think what you want or need to do and create straight away, don’t panic. Think about what your plan for the day is and what you actually need to do. If you have lost your muse for a moment, don’t be tempted to put everything away and procrastinate, eventually you will regain your focus, based on your daily plan and you will be able to come up with the subject you need to write about, or work on.
De-clutter your work space
Keeping a neat and tidy work space can help improve your organisation and focus. Ever felt overwhelmed and then felt your work space was just so untidy that it lent itself to your inability to cope? I know I have, but just be careful that an excuse to tidy your desk becomes another way to avoid the very work you need to do.
Take moments to relax
As pointed out earlier, you need to plan, set deadlines, have realistic goals and ensure you don’t overwork. A good plan with all these details should always include moments where you are able to rest and alleviate any stresses you may be under. There are lots of ideas you can use to relax for a while, you should be able to find some that suit you.
Get a routine
Finally you really do need to get into a routine. Anything that you can make routine in your life is good for your well being as it allows you to concentrate on other things. Get into a routine and you will find work and even life In general becomes a lot easier to cope with. Putting things you use every day in a different place puts a strain on you when they tend to disappear don’t they? So you normally put them in the same place don’t you? It is the same with creating a working routine, change it all the while and you will feel pressure and forget things you need to do, do the same things every day and this behaviour becomes routine and allows you to free up time to do other things and not to worry so much.
I hope the above ten ideas have allowed you to see how simple it can be to improve your concentration. All you need to do is put a little bit of work and effort into applying these tools into your everyday life and you will find it so much easier to get on with what you need to do.