20 Tips to Help You Improve Your Focus

Achieve Better Focus for Powerful Levels of Productivity

Is a lack of focus costing you?

Focus can be difficult in this distraction-driven world. Who can afford all of that precious time to be wasted?

Here are 20 tips to help you maintain focus on writing great articles that will build your credibility in your niche, increase exposure to readers, and help you save time to do the things you want to do.

  1. Eat Breakfast: As they say, (a healthy) breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Not only does it prevent hunger pangs, it helps your brain function. Don’t skip it – eat it!
     
  2. Drink More Water: Dehydration will make you feel tired, irritable, slow, or sick. If your brain doesn’t have enough fluid, then it can’t operate at peak performance and you’ll struggle to remain focused. Stay hydrated.
     
  3. Improve Your Environment: Make your environment work for you. If you concentrate better with music or ambient noise, then plug in those headphones. If noisy coworkers or family are beyond “disturbing” your concentration, then address it with them or request help.
  4. Make a Master Road Map: At the beginning of the day, create a master list of tasks that you want to complete, including both personal and professional goals. This will be your map from the start to the end of your day. Committing to one list will prevent confusion and unnecessary distractions as well as help you visualize achieving each goal for added momentum.
     
  5. Prioritize Your Tasks: If you’re not sure which tasks to start with or which are more important, take 10 or 15 minutes to prioritize your road map. Ideally, plan to do your most important tasks first to prevent procrastination and also plan your hardest tasks when you’re most alert so you can charge through it.
     
  6. One Thing at a Time: Ideally, only focus on one task at a time. In a number of studies, the human brain has shown that it cannot execute two complicated tasks simultaneously. Perform two at a time and a distraction can easily derail your progress. Add a third and the brain simply can’t keep up. You’ll lose track of one of the original tasks and begin making errors.
     
  7. Write it Down: Thought of something that’s unrelated to your current task? Don’t jump into it (see #6). Write it down to remind yourself later. Similarly, this applies to good discussion and meeting etiquette. If an idea strikes you and you don’t want to butt in, write down a simple keyword as a reminder!
     
  8. Take Care of It: Bills, sick kids, relationship issues, oil changes, etc. – address these things ASAP or create a plan of action (such as add it to your road map – see #4). The key is to get it off your mind and don’t let it pass the threshold when you set out to write.
     
  9. Balance Work & Life: Don’t sacrifice your personal or home life for your work life – the value and creativity you contribute in your writing will only suffer. Make time for yourself in order to boost performance and satisfaction!
     
  10. Don’t Get Bored: If you feel your attention waning, regroup by taking a short break. A quick walk to get a glass of water or getting up to stretch can help. Don’t be tempted to take a longer break and let your well-intentioned regrouping session slip into procrastination.
     
  11. Set Alarms: If you’re constantly late or rushing, figure how much time it takes to get routine tasks done. Set the alarm on your phone to alert you when it’s time to move on to the next task or get going. Don’t have unlimited alarms on your smartphone? Download an app that does! Don’t have a smartphone? Get a simple kitchen/egg timer!
     
  12. Know Your Limits: Unless it’s to improve your skill set, allow tasks that are over your head to go to someone who can do it. Alternately, just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should – that’s how bottlenecks are made if anyone is waiting on you and that’s how you will risk burnout.* Delegate where you can so you can dedicate your time to more valuable tasks.
     
  13. Time-Chunk Tasks: If you have trouble estimating time or shifting gears from one activity to another, approach tasks for limited periods of time. For example, give yourself two 30-minute periods to work on something with a break in between.
     
  14. Reward Yourself: Plan time to do something you enjoy as a reward for yourself every day so you have something to look forward to – play a game, have a coffee date, read a book, etc.
     
  15. Keep Reminder Lists: Whether with pen and paper or using your smartphone, maintain reminder lists to input to-dos, appointments, and upcoming events to help remind yourself of what you have coming up. Keep these congruent with your Master Road Map (see #4).
     
  16. Build Mental Endurance: In strength training, you don’t give up because you’re too tired – you push yourself. Do the same with frustrating tasks – get a second wind by giving it five more minutes of your entire focus before you put it away.
     
  17. Play Brain Games: If you do need a break, play “brain fitness” games against the clock rather than hopping onto Facebook for the umpteenth time. Try Sudoku, crossword puzzles, or memory and attention training programs such as Luminosity’s personalized training program.
     
  18. Do Not Disturb: Let your email and voice mail do its job. Close email, instant messengers (on your computer AND your mobile devices), and put your status on “Busy.” Turn off your phone. Close the door. Put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign to let others know you need to focus.
     
  19. Give Yourself a Message: Post a note within view to remind yourself to stay focused. It will help you tell yourself: “This isn’t the time to check messages. I’ll do it later.”
     
  20. Just Breathe: Frustration or lack of focus can be a result of loss of oxygen to your brain. Ensure you’re sitting comfortably at your desk and rest your hands on your lap or thighs. Slowly, take a deep breath, letting your belly and ribs expand. Don’t let it all out right away; hold your breath for a few seconds and then let it all out, allowing your ribs and belly to contract. Repeat for 5 breaths to recharge and clear your head.

Use these tips to improve your focus, your performance, your value, your confidence, and even your overall happiness. Did I miss any? What’s your tip to stay focused? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

* Feeling burnt out? Check out our previous post, How to Avoid Article Writing Burnout, here.


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23 Comments »


1
Ishan M writes:

Very effective. I need some of these focus tips especially #6 for one thing at a time. I tend to do everything at once and end up with nothing. hahah
If you have any interest in business articles, take a look at my articles

Comment provided May 21, 2014 at 10:49 AM

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2
lesley writes:

Thanks for this. If lack of focus is a problem though it would be helpful to limit tips to 10 rather than 20. Attention starts to wander…

Comment provided May 21, 2014 at 12:08 PM

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Haha, you make a good point Lesley!

This post however, is meant to help you improve your focus so shortening it up wouldn’t do it justice. ;)

~Vanessa

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3

Number 6 is my favorite as well. I can accomplish wonders with just one thing on my list. Then I turn to the next when the first is complete. If it’s a huge project then I commit to working on it for an hour or whatever time span I’ve predetermined.

Great helpful article.

Comment provided May 21, 2014 at 3:34 PM

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4
Michael W. writes:

This is a very comprehensive and useful list of tips. Focus is very important yet it’s difficult to achieve…and while I agree with everything else, I think eating breakfast is not that of a big deal because most of the time I don’t eat breakfast(as what I’ve observed), I tend to draw more focus. I don’t know why especially that most health experts tell breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, it is not the case on me… I think that’s my personal preference that got impressed into my subconscious. But you know what? This list is worth printing in a large paper and post it on a spot where it is visible all the time to serve as reminder and let the elusive “FOCUS” sink into one’s self and become one of daily valuable habits.

Comment provided May 21, 2014 at 4:34 PM

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Donald Pillai writes:

Hey Michael,
I used to be exactly like that and could never get around to eating breakfast in the mornings. Just like you I think it was my personal preference that got impressed into my subconscious. I was happy to eat 4-5 hours after I woke up. All that changed suddenly when one day many years later I was rushed to hospital with unbearable pains in my abdomen and lower back. After spending a lot of money on scans, ecg’s and xrays, drips etc and the gastroscope it was discovered that by not eating breakfast regularly I had caused some of my internal organs to malfunction. Now I realize how important it is to have breakfast every morning. It’s never too late to start all over again doing the right thing.

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Michael Wiener writes:

Hi Donald, sorry to hear about your bad experience about not eating breakfast. I guess I was saying it too vague when I said not eating breakfast. There is a lot of explanation about not eating breakfast and there are huge debates on it. I don’t say I’m right, but it does makes me feel good and more focused. That being said, even though I’m not eating the usual high-protein breakfast, I do consume a good amount of healthy fats that I mixed with my coffee. Fats like unsalted butter and coconut oil with a sprinkle of cinnamon. This way of eating made lose over 20 pounds… and yes, I was a bit overweight back in 2011-2012. I do eat high-protein breakfast from time to time, but mostly I do intermittent fasting every other day.

Now, I don’t recommend this way of eating unless you know what you’re doing. I think it’s about knowing your current health condition and physique. If you’re healthy and with good metabolism, sure breakfast is a great thing, but if for those who are somewhat fat/overweight, I think my way is working… at least for me :)

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5
parth writes:

I love your all points but I really love the most “Do not Disturb” and “write it down” point. A really highly motivated article for us. Thank you so much

Comment provided May 22, 2014 at 2:36 AM

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6
Ritesh Agarwal writes:

#21

Read: Reading helps a person relax and get away from everyday stress. It is cathartic, not to mention that reading heavy literature strengthens the mind and the memory. I can vouch for that from my own experience

Comment provided May 22, 2014 at 4:01 AM

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Great addition, Ritesh!

~Vanessa

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7
Dustin writes:

I’ve found all of these mentioned methods of improving focus true. Personally what has greatly improved my focus, more than anything else, has been the addition of taking Piracetam and Sunifiram in the morning with my daily vitamins and supplements.

Piracetam and Sunifiram both act on the GABA and ACh receptors in the brain which are directly implicated in the memorization process as well as focus.

Comment provided May 29, 2014 at 12:10 PM

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8

Add “Take A Nap” to make the list complete. Because having a breif sleep defintely recharges mind and body.

Comment provided May 30, 2014 at 4:21 AM

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9
erick carlson writes:

I’ve also learned that “mindless entertainment” helps as well. Far too often, we work and then go home with plans and goals for the entire day. Sometimes you just need to have fun with something that doesn’t require a lot of brain power.

Comment provided May 30, 2014 at 4:45 PM

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10
Melody Jackson writes:

Great tips…. I do a lot of them and saw a few I could incorporate. I love the tip to push yourself just 5 minutes more on a task you don’t like. Awesome! Thank you.

Comment provided June 2, 2014 at 8:25 PM

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11

Great post.

Comment provided June 4, 2014 at 12:45 AM

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12

Thanks very nice blog!

Comment provided June 8, 2014 at 4:53 AM

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13
Anthony Baxter writes:

I think focusing on one thing at a time is the most important one on the list even if they are very small tasks. If it is a big task then break it down into smaller tasks then write it down. Many times have i seen someone trying to do too many things at once…. You need to write it down, nail it and cross it off!

Comment provided June 21, 2014 at 10:49 PM

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14
kapil heera writes:

Hello

such a great tips for everyone, nobody can achive without focus, so it is very important to follow this instruction for all peoples.

Best Regards
kapilheera

Comment provided July 18, 2014 at 1:48 AM

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15

Hi,

Switch off my handphone help me a lot to stay focus. Anyway, thanks for the tips, I really like point no.7.

Thank you

Comment provided August 12, 2014 at 4:19 AM

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16
Rezaul writes:

thanks

Comment provided August 16, 2014 at 2:07 AM

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17
Ashutosh Kumar writes:

Hi,
I read all 20 points and enjoy this.
All points have their own significance.

Thanks for the sharing to world wide.

Comment provided September 9, 2014 at 3:04 AM

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18
skybryte writes:

Great post…….

Comment provided September 17, 2014 at 5:21 AM

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19
Best Catcher writes:

Mind power is undeniably powerful but it is principally unproductive without another constituent –focus. Our energies must be well channelized in the correct order to make them more functional. Unlike nature’s powers which cannot be caged and deflected, the human mind is free and more potent than any other power around us.

Comment provided July 25, 2016 at 2:25 AM

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