1. Stop valuing the wrong things
Staying up-to-date on the very latest information, events, messages, and developments is less important than the quality of your work and relationships. Get this straight in your head, and it might make other efforts to improve your focus a little easier.
2. Consider noise-canceling headphones
According to the subtle unwritten rules of office politics, headphones are kosher, earplugs are not. Spending $200 on a pair might seem exorbitant, but compared with the money you’ll be out when you’re fired because you can’t get your work done because you’re always distracted in the office, it’s a downright steal. Don’t have $200? There are far more affordable alternatives.
3. Track your productivity
Make a simple three-item to-do list and hold yourself accountable when it takes all day to get one item done.
4. Leave your phone in another room
The benefit here should be obvious. Even if you ‘need’ the phone for certain tasks, see if those can wait or be done in some other way that doesn’t require the phone.
5. Set boundaries
Let others around you know when you’re working or reading or writing or whatever requires focus. You can even reward them (especially children) for ‘leaving you alone’ and allowing you to remove digital distractions and focus.
6. Set a schedule
7. Use OneTab
Too many tabs, too little focus. While three tabs might be useful, 13 makes a mess. Use OneTab. (We use this extensively at TeachThought.)
Unsubscribe from all but the most useful newsletters, feeds, text alerts, and other ‘pushed directly to you’ information and notifications.
Focus is a muscle and can grow or atrophy. The more accustomed you are to focusing for a set amount of time, the more natural it will become. Yay for neuroplasticity!
Meditation can help develop focus but it also can help you ‘let go’–to give your brain a break. An exhausted brain not only leads to poor focus but can lead to poor sleep as well.
11. Use labels in email
The idea here is to organize emails by sender, subject line, etc., to automatically separate more and less important messages. It won’t always work but properly set up, can help save time and mental energy.
12. Reward yourself for focus
Learning is about feedback loops so create healthier feedback loops. Reward yourself for healthy behaviors.
13. Use background noise
Our own Terry Heick can barely function without brown noise or other types of ‘background’ sound. We even made a background noise for writing (though it can be useful for reading or anything else, really).
14. Use voice search and related commands
Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, and other similar tools can reduce the number of times you need to pick up your phone or open another browser tab. Obviously how much this improves your focus depends on how you use it.
15. Adjust or turn off notifications
One example? On Windows PCs, choosing to install updates on the spot can be a ticket to lots of wasted time unpacking, installing, and rebooting. Instead, use the steps listed here to restrict updates to installing only when you shut down your computer. Your smartphone and wearables like Android and Apple Watches are more obvious examples of digital distractions. Mute them to improve your focus.
by TeachThought Staff