Ever struggle to keep your mind centered on the task at hand? Do you feel like your thoughts keep drifting elsewhere?
Focus is often unattainable in the modern world of work.
Everything around us is designed to get our attention. Countless distractions are all around us. Many of them are uninvited.
It’s not your fault you are distractible. There are too many distractions that expect your attention.
Today, multi-focusing and multi-tasking are prevalent and costly.
We spend more time doing what could be achieved in a few hours.
“The average office worker now spends 40 percent of their work time wrongly believing they are “multitasking” — which means they are incurring all these costs for their attention and focus,” writes Johann Hari, in his book, Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention — And How to Think Deeply Again.
Many of the tools meant to help us get things done waste our time. We don’t need this many apps to get a single task done.
Our ability to use time, energy and attention on the right things is under attack. The moment we feel distracted, our mind starts wandering. It’s one of the most common pitfalls of being a human.
When you are consistently distracted, you feel overwhelmed, anxious and frustrated.
You can feel like you’re going round and round in circles without being able to finish anything.
Our phones are constantly beeping when we’re working, and we stop working to chat, message others, and respond to emails.
Our mind starts going off, and we start thinking about the last place we were, what we’re going to do next, or what else was on our mind.
The brain is an agile thing, and it’s always looking for ways to explore and feel happy. But, it can also be a monster and a destructive force.
When it goes off track, it’s because it’s looking for ways to feel happy, even if it means looking at something that can make it unhappy.
To stay focused and keep our minds from wandering, we need to learn how to increase our focus.
How you spend your time is a reflection of your attention skills.
Focusing is the ability to switch your attention from one task to another. It’s a vital part of any productive workflow.
It’s natural to feel a bit antsy when you’re trying to do two things at once. But staying on task and keeping your mind focused can be difficult for everyone.
When you have a high level of focus, you can perform tasks with more precision, accuracy, and speed.
Focus is incredibly important, and everyone needs to work on it. It’s a skill that can be improved with time.
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer,” Albert Einstein once said.
Here’s what you can do to reclaim your mind and get more things done daily.
Turn off distraction triggers — starve your distractions.
To improve your focus, remove the many known sources of distraction in your immediate environment.
For example, you can get rid of unnecessary notifications on your phone. Head to Settings on your phone and disable notifications for unproductive apps.
Limit the number of active tabs in your browser
Too many tasks at once overload our memory and reduce our focus. Close tabs you don’t need to increase your focus.
Switching between too many tabs wastes brain energy.
Using at most three important browser tabs at a time increases your focus and helps you concentrate on the task at hand. You don’t need ten tabs to be productive.
“The net is designed to be an interruption system, a machine geared to dividing attention,” Nicholas Carr explains in his book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. “We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive,” says Carr.
Learn to feed your focus
Use journaling, meditation or intentional thinking breaks to build your attention muscle. These productive activities improve your ability to focus and help you train your ability to filter out distractions.
Plan how you want to spend your attention or time the night before
It makes you less reactive and more proactive about what gets your focus. It also prevents attention leaks.
A daily schedule for tomorrow, designed before the end of day today helps you put time and mental energy to good use.
“Where your attention goes, your time goes,” says Idowu Koyenikan.
There are many things you can spend your time on, but they all must have a focus. Spend your time on activities that help you build a better life.
This article originally appeared in Medium.