Don’t you love it when your mental focus helps you complete your to-do list and see everything checked off? You ceremoniously close your laptop and get started on the “me time” you’ve been craving all day. But that is not always the case. Sometimes, we get overwhelmed when there’s a ton of work to do and have an unproductive day. In our always-on, always-connected world, getting distracted and losing focus on tasks is easy.
Here’s the thing: you do not just accidentally become productive. Staying focused and productive throughout the day takes planning and consistent practice. Below are tips that could help to improve your mental focus.
A daily to-do list is your best friend in Productivity. However, if you’re not careful, you might over-schedule and overwhelm yourself. Set reasonable targets, and remember that not everything on your list is urgent. So, you first want to identify which task is the most urgent and work on that first. Get the most critical tasks off your plate first, and you’ll feel and be more productive.
Training your brain to do deep work is the answer to being consistently productive. Deep work means producing at the optimum level for an extended period. You can do this by allotting an hour or two each day, focusing entirely on a task without interruptions and distractions. This will allow your brain to use its power and be familiar with progress and breakthroughs in your tasks. Over time, this will become an effortless habit of yours.
We all know by now that multitasking doesn’t garner great results. It may seem like you are doing more when you multitask, but in reality, you are cutting down on Productivity when you juggle multiple tasks. Give your full attention to one task at a time. This way, you train your brain to maximize resources and improve your mental focus.
Have structure during your workday. However, remember that not everyone’s productivity peaks at the exact timetable. Some people are productive early in the morning, while others are night owls, finding themselves accomplishing more things when it’s dark and quiet. Stay tuned with your natural rhythm, and match your most critical tasks with the parts of the day when you are most productive.
Exercise keeps you on track with your fitness goals, boosts your memory, expands your learning potential, and improves your attention. Plus, it keeps your mood in check and reduces anxiety and stress. Many studies suggest that the prefrontal and medial temporal cortex, the parts of the brain responsible for thinking and memory, of those who exercise have more significant volume than those who do not.
Practicing mindfulness can involve meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. These activities can improve your focus, learning, memory, and attention. A study found that mindfulness meditation is associated with improving attention and concentration.
Make it part of your routine to declutter your workspace before starting your day, putting you in a productive and clear headspace, ready to take on task after task. Research has shown that too many stimuli in a person’s view can decrease attention, ultimately leading to unproductivity and loss of focus.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant, so a cup of coffee can help jolt our brains up at the start of the day. Caffeinated drinks are cognitive enhancers, aiding our focus and mental concentration. However, taking too much caffeine can cause you to become tolerant over time, decreasing its impact. So, limit your caffeine intake to just a cup a day, and save that second cup for days when you need it.
When you’re focusing on a task for too long, the tendency is for your focus to break down. This is because you have probably depleted your mental resources. Give yourself brief breaks between tasks. Step away from the desk, look at greenery if you have it nearby, do some stretching, pet your dog, or go for a walk — anything that can help you reset. Aside from these brief breaks, also take leaves. Remember that your mental focus and Productivity can be optimal only if your mental health is good. FMLA may cover leave for stress, anxiety, or depression, so take time off as needed.
Arleen Atienza has written for several organizations and individuals in the past six years. Her educational background in Psychology and professional experience in corporate enable her to approach a wide range of topics, including finance, business, beauty, health and wellness, and law, to name a few.
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