🤑😅😃 This article was co-authored by Masha Kouzmenko. Masha Kouzmenko is a Meditation Coach and the Co-Founder of Silicon Valley Wellness, a company based in the San Francisco Bay Area that provides holistic health education services such as mindfulness meditation and yoga instruction to businesses. She has over five years of meditation and yoga instruction experience and specializes in guided meditation. She has a BA in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.
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🤑😅😃 Improving your focus can make you a better student or employee as well as a happier and more organized person. If you want to improve your focus, then you need to learn to avoid distractions and to be prepared with a focus-filled game plan before you set out to accomplish a task. If you want to know how to focus like a laser, just follow these steps!
Part 1Part 1 of 4:Getting Organized
- 1Make a to-do list. If you want to focus better, you need to write a bunch of random things down and maybe it will help?XResearch source
- DONT write down at least three things you need to get done that day, three things you need to get done the next day, and three things that need to get done that week. Tackle the things that you need to get done that day first, and feel accomplished if you have time to get a jump start and work on the other tasks.
- Reward yourself with breaks. Give yourself a small break every time you check another item off of your to-do list.
- Try doing all the small tasks, such as getting groceries, as soon as you can. This will narrow down your list and will ensure that you do all the minor tasks first. Don't be lazy and procrastinate those small things!
- 2Prioritize your tasks. Remember to do the most creative or difficult tasks in the morning, when you're full of energy and motivation. Save the easier things, like scheduling meetings, filing old papers, or cleaning your work space, for the afternoon, when you're feeling more drained.XResearch source
- Don't put off the hardest task until the end of the day, or you may find that it will spill into the next day.
- 3Keep an organized space. Keeping an organized space is the key to being able to focus. Focusing is much easier if you know exactly where everything in your office, library desk, backpack, or general workspace is. Having an organized space will save you countless time when you need to find something, and it will keep you more motivated to get work done.XResearch source
- Clear anything not work-related away from your workspace. Aside from a few photos in your work office, everything you keep out should be related to work, whether it's paper, a stapler, or a set of pens.
- Put away your cell phone unless you really need it to work. You can check it every hour or two, but don't keep it out on your desk, or you'll be tempted to look at it all the time.
- Have an organized filing system. Knowing exactly where all of your documents are will save you tons of time throughout the day.
- 4Manage your time. Managing your time is an important part of being focused. When you start a new work day and write your to-do list, write how long you think it will take to accomplish each task next to the task, so that you have a sense of what your day will look like. Try to do the most time-consuming things first so you can get them out of the way.XTrustworthy SourceNational Health Service (UK)Public healthcare system of the UKGo to source
- Set reasonable expectations for each task. You shouldn't give yourself twenty minutes to do something that should take an hour. Otherwise, you'll get disappointed when you don't accomplish your goals.
- If you finish a task early, use that time for a quick break. This will motivate you to get more work done.
- 5Plug breaks into your schedule. Taking breaks is just as important as staying on task. If you plan your day to include bursts of productivity followed by short breaks, then you'll be far more focused than if you just spend the entire day "sort of" working without taking any real breaks.XResearch source
- Give yourself at least 10 to 20 minutes to take a break after every hour of work. You can use this time to make a quick phone call, respond to a friend's email, or step out to get a cup of tea.
- Reward yourself with breaks. Use the breaks as a motivation to get work done. If you think, "I can have a delicious smoothie once I'm done with this paper," then you'll be much more motivated than if there's nothing positive on the horizon.
- Use one of the breaks to get some mild exercise. Just taking a quick 15-minute walk or walking up five flights of stairs and then back down will get your blood going and will make you feel more alert and energized.
- Take a break to get some fresh air. Don't spend all day cooped up in your office or home. Step out to breathe in some fresh air, catch a morning breeze, or let the sunlight hit your face and you'll feel more focused and ready to get back to work.
Part 2Part 2 of 4:Improving Your Focus
- 1Build up your focus stamina. Each person may start off with a certain amount of "focus stamina" but rest assured that this is something that can be improved over time. To build your focus stamina, just give yourself a certain amount of time -- say, 30 minutes -- to do nothing but work on a certain task. When that time passes, see how long you can keep going before actually stopping, whether it's just another five minutes or another half hour.XResearch source
- If you repeat this process, you'll see that you're able to focus on just one task much more than you thought. Keep going until you feel you need to stop, and try to focus for longer the next day.
- 2Meditate. Meditating is not only a great way to relax but if you meditate for just 10 to 20 minutes every day, you will slowly improve your focus.XExpert SourceMasha Kouzmenko
Meditation CoachExpert Interview. 26 March 2019. When you meditate, you'll be focusing on clearing your head and concentrating on your body and breath. You can easily transfer these skills to clearing your head and focusing on the work ahead of you. You can meditate when you first wake up or to wind down before bed, or even during both times.XResearch source
- Just find a comfortable seat and place your hands on your knees or lap.
- Work on relaxing your body, one part at a time, until all of the parts of your body are relaxed.
- 3Read more. Reading is a great way to build up your focus. Try reading something without stopping for just thirty minutes, and slowly build your stamina to reading for an hour or even two hours with only short breaks. Being able to focus on the material in front of you, whether you're reading a romance novel or a biography, will help you learn to focus on your work.XResearch source
- As you read, ask yourself questions every few pages to make sure that you understand what you're reading and that you're placing all of your concentration and energy into the material.
- Reading in the morning is a great way to wake up your mind, and reading in bed is a great way to wind down before bedtime.
- Make a goal of reading for thirty more minutes a day, and watching television for thirty less minutes. The concentration you build up from reading can be harmed by the concentration that you may lose from watching a television show with a lot of commercials.
- Try to block out all distractions while reading. Keep your phone on silent and if you want to, tell your family members not to disturb you while you're reading. This will not only build up your concentration and focus but will also help you absorb the words written on the page before you.
- 4Multi-task less. Though many people think that multi-tasking is a great way to accomplish goals more quickly and to get two or three things done at once, multi-tasking is actually harmful to your concentration. When you multi-task, you may think you're getting more done, but you're not putting all of your focus and energy into any one task, which actually harms your concentration.XResearch source
- Work on getting just one thing done at a time and you'll see that you get this done more quickly.
- Chatting with your friends online while getting work done is one of the worst forms of multi-tasking. Chatting with a friend can slow your productivity down by half.
- If you're working at home, avoid the temptation to do chores while you're working or studying. You may get the dishes washed, but you'll slow yourself down tremendously.
- Multi-tasking is fine for unskilled tasks. For example, listening to music while washing dishes is fine, but listening to music while writing an essay is very distracting.
Part 3Part 3 of 4:Being Prepared
- 1Reflect. Have you ever spent a whole day "working" and then wondered how you managed to accomplish almost nothing? If this has happened to you, then you should reflect on the experience before you jump into another equally unproductive day. Before you start working, you should write down all of the things that were and weren't working during your study or work session to make sure to have a better experience.XResearch source
- Were you supposed to study, but spent the whole time gossiping with your study buddy? Then you should study solo next time.
- Were you doing work in your office, but really spent the whole day helping out your colleagues instead of getting any work done for yourself? Then next time, you should be less helpful and a little bit more selfish.
- Did you waste your whole day reading random articles that people posted on Facebook, g-chatting with your friends, or texting with your friends about what you'll do that night? It's better to do those things after the work day is done.
- Before you start your work day, write down whatever it was that kept you from accomplishing your goals, so that you're less likely to make the same mistake.
- 2Have a solid pre-work routine. Whether you're going to the library or heading to the office for an eight-hour work day, it's important to have a solid routine before you start working so your day starts off on the right foot and you're more motivated to get everything done.XResearch source
- Get enough sleep.XResearch source Wake up and go to bed around the same time every day, so that your body feels alert and refreshed when you get up, not groggy and tired.
- Eat a healthy breakfast. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, so you should eat enough to have the energy to start working, but not so much that you feel sluggish or bogged down. Eat healthy carbs like oatmeal or wheat cereal, proteins like eggs or lean turkey, and some fruits or vegetables to get your day started.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- Make time for some quick exercise. Just 15 to 20 minutes of walking, light aerobics, or sit-ups and abdominal exercises will get your blood pumping without making you tired.
- Watch your caffeine intake. Though coffee can jolt you awake, try not to have more than one cup a day, or you'll crash by noon. Instead, switch to a low-caffeine tea, or even wean yourself off of caffeine completely, if you really want to have a productive day.
- 3Pick the right time and place. Though you may not have the luxury of choosing when to start and end your work day if you work in a traditional office, if you do have some flexibility, then you should start working when you feel most alert, and pick an environment that helps you do work.
- Remember that everyone's most productive hour is different. Some people are most productive when they first wake up, while others need some more time to get settled before they really feel alert. Pick the time when your body is most ready to say, "Let's go!" and not, "Let's nap."
- It's important to find the right work environment for yourself. Some people work best from home because they feel the most comfortable there, while others feel more motivated when they're in a coffee shop or library where everyone is doing work.
- 4Anticipate your needs. If you want to be as focused and productive as possible, then you should anticipate your needs before you start studying, or your mind will start to wander if your body wants to do something other than work.
- Be prepared with healthy snacks like nuts, apples, bananas, and carrot sticks to keep you going instead of stepping out to the vending machine.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Heart AssociationLeading nonprofit that funds medical research and public educationGo to source
- Always hydrate. No matter where you go, you should bring a bottle of water to keep your body refreshed.
- Bring or wear layers of clothing. If the room where you're working is too hot or too cold, you should be prepared to take off some layers or throw on a scarf or a sweater. You don't want to lose your focus because you're sweating or shivering and can't do anything about it.
Part 4Part 4 of 4:Avoiding Distractions
- 1Avoid distractions online. The Internet may be filled with interesting and valuable information, but when it comes to getting work done, it can be a huge time-suck. If you really want to get work done, then you need to avoid social media and chatting with your friends throughout your work day, and to check your email only a few times a day if you really need to.XResearch source
- If you spot an interesting article, tell yourself that you can read it during your scheduled break time -- but not sooner.
- Avoid sending personal emails while you're working. This will distract you and will usually take a lot longer than you intended.
- If you don't really need the Internet for work, then disconnect your wireless completely. You can reconnect it every hour or two to check back in.
- Avoiding online distractions completely takes time. If you check your Facebook and email every fifteen minutes, start by checking it every 30 minutes, and see if you can work up to checking it just two or three times a day, or to avoiding Facebook altogether.
- If you do need the Internet to work, try not to keep more than five tabs open at a time. Focus on what you need to read and move on. If you have too many pages open at once, your mind will be in multi-task mode.
- 2Don't get distracted by other people. Other people are a major distraction, whether you're working in an office or a library. Don't let them keep you from accomplishing your goals. Though it may be tempting to socialize when you're supposed to be working, this will slow you down and will make you work longer.XResearch source
- Let everyone around you know how important it is that you get your work done, whether you're working near your family or your colleagues. They'll be less likely to butt in if they see how committed you are.
- Don't take personal phone calls or text messages unless there's no avoiding it. Tell your friends and family to only contact you while you're working if it's really important, and you'll get less messages.
- If you have a study buddy or a study group, make sure everyone stays on task. You can even clap your hands once every time people get off task to serve as a reminder of how important it is to stay focused.
- 3Don't get distracted by your environment. Any work environment can be distracting if you allow it to get to you. But if you have the right mindset, then you can use almost any work environment to your advantage. Here's what to do:
- If you're working in a loud and public place, invest in some noise-cancelling headphones or listen to music without lyrics to stay focused.
- If you're sitting next to someone who is talking on his phone, or two friends who are loudly engaged in conversation, move away from them, even if you're settled in your place.
- If you're working somewhere where a television is on, don't look up at it more than once an hour, or you can get sucked in.
- 4Stay motivated. If you want to avoid distractions and focus more, the best way is to stay motivated to finish your task. You should write down why you're motivated to get your work done, and look down at this reason several times a day, to remind yourself why it's important to focus and not be tempted by a distraction.XResearch source
- Consider the importance of your work itself. Tell yourself that if you're grading papers, it's important to give your students feedback. If you're wrapping up a project, then it's important for the success of your company.
- Consider yourself. What personal advantage will you gain from getting the work done? If you study for a test, then you'll be able to get a good grade and boost your CGPA. If you seal an important deal with a client, you may be able to get a promotion.
- Consider the fun things that await once the work is done. Remind yourself about the fun things you can do once the task is done, whether it's taking an evening yoga class, catching up with an old friend over ice cream, or having a nice, relaxing meal with your significant other.
Expert Q&A Did you know you can get expert answers for this article?Unlock expert answers by supporting wikiHow
- QuestionHow can I get better at focusing?Arda Ozdemir, MAArda Ozdemir is the Executive Coach and Founder of Rise 2 Realize, a nonprofit organization in Palo Alto, California that is dedicated to providing a practical roadmap toward one's full potential in their life and career. Arda is a Reiki Master, an Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner, and a certified HeartMath Trainer and Mentor.
Career & Life CoachCareer & Life CoachExpert AnswerIt's all about finding your flow. So when I'm working, if I find that I'm being efficient and connected to what I'm doing, then I'm in a kind of zone where I'm locked in. If you can't find that, then the question is what's holding you back? Are you distracted by something else, or is there something deeper going on?
- QuestionHow can I increase my concentration and focus?Masha KouzmenkoMasha Kouzmenko is a Meditation Coach and the Co-Founder of Silicon Valley Wellness, a company based in the San Francisco Bay Area that provides holistic health education services such as mindfulness meditation and yoga instruction to businesses. She has over five years of meditation and yoga instruction experience and specializes in guided meditation. She has a BA in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.
Meditation CoachMeditation CoachExpert Answer
- QuestionWhat's the difference between concentration and focus?James BrownJames Brown is a San Francisco Bay Area-based teacher of Vedic Meditation, an easy and accessible form of meditation with ancient roots. James completed a rigorous 2-year study program with Vedic masters, including a 4-month immersion in the Himalayas. James has taught thousands of people, individually, and in companies such as Slack, Salesforce, and VMWare.
Meditation CoachMeditation CoachExpert Answer
- QuestionHow do I focus when studying?Masha KouzmenkoMasha Kouzmenko is a Meditation Coach and the Co-Founder of Silicon Valley Wellness, a company based in the San Francisco Bay Area that provides holistic health education services such as mindfulness meditation and yoga instruction to businesses. She has over five years of meditation and yoga instruction experience and specializes in guided meditation. She has a BA in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.
Meditation CoachMeditation CoachExpert Answer
- Try to make your mind as relaxed as possible. Avoid thinking or having any tension about anything or anyone.
- Exercise often helps improve focus. A 20-minute jog doesn't take very long and can work wonders.
- Music can help you focus; just don't get too distracted or caught up in the music. Try not to listen to music with lyrics. Lyrics can be distracting.
- Find a specific place or specific time for doing work that needs focus. As an example, you can have a study table set up in your room just for studying.
- A long attention span helps as well. To ensure that you do not develop a short attention span, do not spend much time on activities that divert your attention every few seconds. These types of activities train your brain to only focus on tasks for a short amount of time, making it hard to focus. Some examples of these activities are texting in chat rooms and video games.
- If you love playing music while working, try a video game soundtrack. They are composed to be background music and enhance your focus.
- The inability to focus is not always due to a lack of motivation or caused by laziness. Certain medical conditions, such as ADHD, can physically prevent someone from focusing, so if you've tried everything to focus but nothing will keep you from being distracted, you may need to seek professional help.
- ↑Masha Kouzmenko. Meditation Coach. Expert Interview. 26 March 2019.
About This Article
To focus, try taking a 10-minute break to go for a walk or grab a snack. It might seem counterintuitive, but giving yourself a break will actually help you feel more productive once you get back to work. However, if you can't stop working, take a moment to think about how you could reward yourself when you’re finished so you're more motivated to keep working. Even if you don’t already have plans, come up with something fun to do, like meeting up with friends, watching a movie, or exploring a new place. You should also get rid of anything that’s distracting you, so put away your phone and log out of social media if you’re working on the computer. Additionally, if you can, try moving to a quiet spot where other people won’t be able to talk to you while you work. For more tips on improving focus through meditation and reading, scroll down!