Sometimes (a lot of times), it’s hard for me to focus while I’m working. I tend to start a task, then shift a few moments later to something else that I remember I have to do, change the song I’m listening to, text someone, grab another glass of water, etc. You know the drill.
In our world of constant stimuli that offer immediate gratification, staying on one task for a set period of time can be pretty difficult. I recently discovered two time-management tools that really work for me. I invite you to try them for yourselves.
1. When you’re faced with a challenge (however big), take a few deep breaths. When we’re working on a task, challenges come up. We may not know how to respond to an email, proceed on an assignment, or we may have to Google around for an answer to a question. When these challenges come up, we get slightly uncomfortable/annoyed/frustrated, so our minds wander to distract ourselves from that discomfort. But that just makes us lose concentration, prolonging the time it takes for us to finish something. The next time you notice yourself switching gears right away when a challenge comes up, remove your hands from your laptop or phone and take two deep breaths.Put your focus on your breath.Then return to the task. You’ll often find that when you go back to your task, the challenge at hand is less of a pain than you thought. With just a little more concentration, you can figure it out and get your task done.
2. Set a timer for 10 mins and crank out that email. Sending emails seems like such a mind-numbing task, but it actually takes a lot of concentration. We may have to include a lot of detail and direction to our recipient or write a thoughtful response to someone’s idea. And how annoying is it when you finally send an email and realize you made a mistake!? It can take a long time to write a useful and error-free email, and it’s so easy for our minds to wander while we write. Try this technique. Set your timer for 10 mins. Get hyperfocused and try your absolute hardest to get that email written within that 10 mins. But don’t send yet. This helps you get out everything you need to say—quickly. THEN, after the 10 mins, read the email aloud to yourself and send.
Try these techniques at work or school this week. They’ll help you stay focused during your work time so that you get your work done quickly—and you avoid having to take work home or squeezing in work in other parts of your day.