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How to maintain focus even with distractions

How to maintain focus even with distractions

If there’s one thing we could all probably use a lot more of, it’s the ability to focus. But telling yourself to stay focused on a task, especially a mundane one, is often a lot easier said than done.

The good news? There are several techniques that can help you zone in on the task in front of you. If you need help staying focused, try one — or all 10 — of these tips.

First things first: You need to eliminate distractions. While you can’t do away with everything, you can make an effort to reduce or get rid of as many distractions as possible.

Start with the simple things like:

  • moving to a quiet area
  • turning off notifications on your phone or turning your phone off altogether
  • closing the door to your office
  • telling those around you not to distract you for a period of time
  • closing out of programs or apps that aren’t essential on your computer

Drinking coffee, or other caffeinated beverages, in small doses may have a positive impact on your ability to focus, according to a 2010 study .

The key to taking advantage of caffeine’s cognitive-enhancing properties is to consume it in moderation. If you drink too much of it, you may end up feeling anxious or nervous, which generally reduces your ability to stay focused.

Staying focused helps you get more done in less time. While that sounds simple enough, it’s not always easy to put into practice. So, the next time you’re wrestling with your attention span, try the Pomodoro technique.

This timing method helps you train your brain to stay on task for short periods of time. Here’s how it works:

  • Set your timer for 25 minutes and get to work.
  • When you the buzzer sounds, take a 5-minute break.
  • Then, set the timer again and get back to work.
  • Once you’ve done four rounds of this, you can take a longer break, approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

If your idea of a break from work is checking Facebook or Instagram every 5 minutes, you may want to consider an app that blocks social media.

There are several apps that work for your phone, tablet, or computer. In addition to social media, some of these distraction-busting programs also allow you to block online games, as well as apps and sites like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, Twitter, text messages, and even emails.

Some of the most popular social media blockers include Freedom, AppBlock, FocusMe, and Focus.

We all know what happens when “hanger” strikes. This dreaded combination of hunger and anger is a major focus fail.

So, to keep your brain focused, your energy levels up, and your emotions on an even keel, make sure you don’t delay or skip meals.

Try to balance lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats to stay fueled. Snack on fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, or seeds if you get hungry between meals, and be sure to keep yourself hydrated with plenty of water.

And, for an extra boost, Harvard Medical School says to include a few of these “best brain foods” in your day:

  • green, leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli
  • fatty fish such as salmon
  • berries, like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries
  • walnuts
  • tea and coffee for the caffeine, in moderation

It’s no secret that the majority of Americans are lacking in the sleep department. While a few nights of minimal sleep is okay, not getting enough sleep most nights of the week can negatively impact both your short and long-term memory, as well as your ability to concentrate.

The recommended amount of sleep for adults aged 18 to 60 years old is 7 or more hours a night. Older adults may need up to 9 hours per night.

To boost your sleep health, try to:

  • Avoid caffeinated beverages after lunchtime.
  • Switch off all electronic devices an hour before bedtime. The light from these devices can stimulate your brain and prevent you from feeling sleepy.
  • Take time to wind down. Read a book, take a warm bath, listen to soothing music.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and quiet. According to the Cleveland Clinic, an ideal temperature is between 60 and 67°F (15.6 and 19.4°C).

If your lack of focus is a result of feeling overwhelmed by a complex project, try breaking it down into smaller parts and plugging the smaller steps into the SMART formula.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific. What exactly needs to be done?
  • Measurable. How will you track your progress?
  • Achievable. Is it realistic? Can it be done by the deadline?
  • Relevant. How does it fit with the overall plan or bigger goal?
  • Timely. When does it need to be done?

When you take a large, complex project and break it down into smaller, bite-size tasks, you can boost your ability to concentrate and focus on specific tasks. That’s because you end up with goals that you actually feel like you can accomplish.

Does your mind tend to wander away from where it’s supposed to be? Don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone. Distracted thinking is common, and something we all experience.

However, these short mental vacations often make it harder to focus on the task in front of you. That’s where mindfulness comes in.

According to the Mayo Clinic, being mindful means you can maintain moment-to-moment awareness of where you are and what you’re doing — which is great news when you’re trying to stay focused.

By being mindful and recognizing when your attention starts to drift, you can quickly bring your focus back to where it needs to be. Plus, you can actually train your brain to be more mindful by practicing breathing techniques, meditation, and mindful movement, such as yoga.

Let’s face it. The items on a to-do list can add up quickly. And, it can be challenging to find the motivation to accomplish everything you set out to do.

The good news? Studies show that having a written plan of action can increase productivity.

After you make your list, choose two or three key tasks and put them at the top. Then rank the rest of the items in order of importance. This allows you to tackle urgent tasks when your brain is fresh and your energy levels are high.

Tired of jumping from one type of thinking to another (aka “multitasking”)? Then pick tasks that are similar, group them together, and do one at a time. This makes transitions smoother, and you may find that you get a lot more done by not jumping from one type of task to another.

Despite what you may think, multitasking is not more effective or efficient, especially when you’re struggling with staying focused. In fact, the American Psychological Association reports that multitasking may reduce productivity by as much as 40 percent.

Whether you’re dealing with too many competing priorities, lack of sleep, or just a simple dose of the “Mondays,” not being able to focus can really put a damper on your productivity.

That’s why it’s important to have a few simple tips and tricks, like the ones we described above, at your fingertips. Knowing how to zone in on what needs to get done can help you stay on track with your most important tasks each day.

Last medically reviewed on October 16, 2019

How to maintain focus even with distractions

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I work from home and I can’t think of a place with more distractions than my messy, laundry-piled, pet-filled, toddler tornado of a home. There is always something else I could be doing, and there is often a chore I’m in the middle of, but somehow I’ve come up with a system that allows me to maintain focus at “work” even though there’s chaos right outside my office door. Here’s how I’ve done it:

How to maintain focus even with distractions

1) Set up your work-space—I can’t overestimate the importance of setting up your workspace. If your office is cluttered and disorganized, you’ll spend lots of extra mental energy just attempting to focus on the task at hand while psychologically, all you really want to do is clean, sort, and organize the huge pile in the corner. Our psyches crave order, so when your office is orderly, you know where to find what you need, and it’s clear to you what to put your attention on next (your inbox or your high priority activities list), you’re much more likely to be able to focus on the task at hand.

If organizing your office sounds overwhelming, I recommend asking for help from a co-worker, friend, or family member, and if that doesn’t work, then hire someone to help you get organized. If you need a book for motivation, I love “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.

2) Protect your space from intrusions and common distractions—When I first started working from home my husband would unexpectedly walk into my office and start asking me questions about household stuff. At first I just thought it was annoying, but later I realized that these interruptions greatly reduce my productivity. So I had a little talk with my hubby and I established a “my workspace is sacred” rule. When I’m in my office with the door shut, the only interruptions should be for emergencies or very urgently needed information. Even my 2 ½ year old daughter respects my office space and knows that when I’m working, she’s not to disturb me.

This kind of boundary setting shouldn’t stop at physical interruptions though. You also need to turn off your personal phone, put the answering machine on your office phone (check messages and return calls no more than twice a day), and definitely turn off the “new mail” indicator on your computer. Checking your email every time there’s a new message is a huge waste of time and completely derails your focus.

3) Set the expectations of the people you work with—If you work in an office setting, you might experience intrusions and interruptions from co-workers or your boss. Let the people in your office know that interruptions reduce your productivity and you’d like to minimize them. Set up systems that will work for you and your co-workers.

For instance, you might tell everyone that you’ll check your email and respond to emails at 11am and 3pm every day, rather than responding to each message individually throughout the day. You may even implement a coding system by which people can indicate high importance and time sensitive emails vs. low importance get to it whenever you can emails.

4) Strategize redirection ahead of time—If there’s an interruption you can anticipate, figure out a way to redirect ahead of time. Send a co-worker to someone else who’s working on the project, ask them for a more detailed analysis, or schedule another time to talk. Sometimes even delegating more responsibility to the concerned party can allay their fears and lighten your load.

Reminding people that they too have power and that you can’t attend to every detail boosts their responsibility and trains them not to rely so heavily on you.

5) Take a moment to address the distraction—There are times when my daughter is home and she’s in distress and needs me right away. I understand that, and by taking a moment to connect with her, I’m actually teaching her that I’m available when she really needs me, which ultimately reduces the number of interruptions.

“Oh, you hurt yourself! Do you need a hug? I love you so much. I’m sorry you hurt yourself. Are you having fun playing with Grammy? I’m working right now, so I can’t play with you, but I bet Grammy will read you a story or do a puzzle with you!” Off she toddles happily.

Responding to your co-worker might sounds slightly different, “I know you’re concerned about the report, but I’m working on something else right now, can we schedule a time to talk about this later this afternoon? How about 4:00?” Jot it in your calendar, and get right back to your previous work.

6) Establish a regular reminder for your high priority activities—Working for myself means that I have to prioritize everything for myself, which I find quite challenging. So, in my moments of clarity, when I know what’s most important to my business, I create to do lists and mark the high priority items as such. Then, every time I find myself with unscheduled time, I revisit my “high priority” items and work through them one by one.

I find it easy enough to check my list when I have time, but if you just never seem to get around to it, set a particular time of day or an alarm or send yourself an email reminder to check on those items that make the difference for you between success and failure.

I hope these strategies are helpful for you and I would love to know what you think of them! Please leave me a comment below and have a great and productive day.

Distractions can be damaging, but when multi-tasking we also learn how to focus.

Posted Jul 31, 2017

By Catherine Middlebrooks and Alan Castel, PhD

We are often distracted. When using a computer, most people have several browsers or windows open simultaneously, and it is estimated that we check our phones about every seven minutes. Sometimes these distractions make us lose our focus. These distractions can be obvious, like a notification on your smartphone that you have a new message or subtler, like the sounds of traffic or a conversation in a nearby room. We can try to avoid major distractions—perhaps finding a quiet place free of WiFi and people—but we are never completely free from distracting thoughts. Moreover, complete solitude is generally neither feasible nor desirable. We are social creatures; frankly, an absence of all interaction, and any resulting loneliness, could itself be a source of distraction.

Besides, rather than pare down stimulation, people largely seem more inclined than ever to seek out extra attention-demanding activities. People talk, text, listen to music, and navigate with their smartphones when driving even when they know it is dangerous. Many studies have demonstrated the costs to memory of multitasking and divided attention [1], and this aligns with our everyday experiences. Why, then, do we persist in multitasking—juggling smartphones, laptops, phone calls, and family responsibilities, when we know this comes at a cost?

Aside from the obvious reasons (meetings can be boring, but Instagram has pretty pictures), maybe we are less able to judge the costs of multitasking because the cognitive resources that we need to make such judgments are already being used (to multitask!). Although we seem to be broadly aware that memory suffers when attention is divided [2], we also fail to apply this knowledge to specific instances, as when deciding how well we’ve learned or remembered something [3]. The same misjudgments are made when people text and drive: We know it’s theoretically a bad idea, but we don’t realize just how much it’s actually affecting our driving until it’s too late.

Recent research, however, suggests that people sometimes do recognize and compensate for the negative effects of divided attention on learning and memory. Does this suggest that multitasking isn’t actually a problem? Not quite—distractions and multitasking have consistently been shown to be no friend to memory. It does, however, suggest that there are few factors worth considering when deciding whether or not to indulge in a little multitasking.

1. Can you call a quick time-out?

If you are taking attention away from your primary task, like a meeting, to attend to something else, like an email, without being able to pause it, multitasking will very likely impair your ability to remember the primary information at a later time. If you can pause your primary task, though, then the occasional interruption may not be as much of a concern.

In one set of experiments, participants read or listened to short passages, during which they were interrupted by questions that would pop-up on the computer screen like an instant message [4]. These interruptions impaired memory when there was no pause in the passage, like a speaker in a meeting doesn’t wait while we scroll through our news feed. Memory was unaffected, though, when participants could momentarily pause their studying to answer the pop-ups.

2. How distracting is the distraction?

Relatedly, learning and memory may be most affected when the distraction(s) require your continuous attention. Researchers found that comprehension of and memory for text was maintained even when participants were also solving math problems or answering unrelated trivia questions [5]. The same could not be said, however, when participants were asked to hold a series of digits in mind while studying the text. In other words, when the multitasking was more demanding, memory was impaired.

3. Can you prioritize when deciding on what to focus?

Oftentimes what we are trying to remember varies in importance. Recent research proposes that distractions and multitasking may not be as detrimental to your ability to prioritize and remember the most important information as it is to your memory overall [6].

Participants in these experiments studied words that were worth anywhere from 1 to 10 points with the goal being to remember as many words as possible while also earning a high score (a sum of the points associated with any remembered words). Unsurprisingly, participants remembered fewer words overall when they were multitasking. Critically, though, distractions had no effect on how well they could prioritize and ultimately remember the higher-valued items. This was found regardless of whether there was simply music playing in the background while participants studied or whether they were also actively engaged with a difficult and continuous task.

This suggests that you may still be able to identify and focus on the most important information when distracted to somewhat offset the general costs to learning and memory. Keep in mind, though, that participants in these experiments were studying information that had already been given values. The most challenging thing may not be only in choosing to prioritize important information and executing that decision, but also in determining what is most important in the first place.

To be or not to be (distracted)?

Ultimately, multitasking and superfluous distractions are generally ill advised when avoidable—and we should certainly err on the side of caution when we will need to later remember information that is currently being presented—but all is likely not lost if you’re occasionally interrupted by a text or if someone nearby turns on the radio. In some cases these distractors may prove entirely inconsequential; in other cases we may still be able to compensate for them by pausing to address them or by prioritizing and focusing our attention on the most important information. Our world is filled with tantalizing distractions, and we seem to adapt by being selectively focused.

1. Craik, F. I. M., Govoni, R., Naveh-Benjamin, M., & Anderson, N. D. (1996). The effects of divided attention on encoding and retrieval processes in human memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 125, 159.

2. Junco, R., & Cotten, S. R. (2011). Perceived academic effects of instant messaging use. Computers & Education, 56, 370-378.

3. Kelley, C. M., & Sahakyan, L. (2003). Memory, monitoring, and control in the attainment of memory accuracy. Journal of Memory and Language, 48, 704-721.

4. Pashler, H., Kang, S. H., & Ip, R. Y. (2013). Does multitasking impair studying? Depends on timing. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27, 593-599.

5. Cho, K. W., Altarriba, J., & Popiel, M. (2015). Mental juggling: when does multitasking impair reading comprehension?. The Journal of General Psychology, 142, 90-105.

6. Middlebrooks, C. D., Kerr, T., & Castel, A. D. (2017). Selectively distracted: Divided attention and memory for important information. Psychological Science, 0956797617702502.

How to maintain focus even with distractions

With advances in telecommuting technology, working from home has been steadily gaining momentum in recent years. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic saw a sudden spike in the number of employers letting employees work remotely.

Despite the popularity of homeworking and 91% of remote workers feeling more productive, distractions are rife in homeworking environments.

Keep Focus Despite Distractions

With workplace dynamics changing, it’s more important than ever that workers don’t give into distractions. To help employees maintain focus in new working environments, Nonprofit Colleges Online published an infographic. The infographic was commissioned by NowSourcing, an infographic agency that specializes in data visualizations and interactive infographics.

The ‘How to Keep Focus Despite Distractions’ infographic outlines the many distractions of modern workspaces. It provides tricks and tips to help employees keep focused when working in remote environments.

Culture of Distraction

According to the infographic, 99% of employees say they are distracted daily. 93% of workers cite video conferencing as the primary distraction. 51% say they are most distracted by phone calls.

Why We Can’t Focus

The research looked at the reasons behind workers’ lack of focus. Stress, multitasking, sleep deprivation and a busy environment, are leading reasons for an inability to focus at work.

Generational Divide

NowSource’s study explored how different generations feel about distractions and focus in modern workplaces. 74% of Generation Z and Millennials are distracted at work. 69% of these age groups admit their smartphones are one of the biggest distractions.

Baby Boomers admit to feeling more productive in a quiet space with less going on. Three times as many Boomers are unable to concentrate in an open space compared to younger generations.

Working from Home

The study found that because of coronavirus many are working remotely for the first time. More than 50% of recipients have concerns that household distractions prevent them from working. 84% of workers say they can refocus in less than 30 minutes. However, even small distractions can increase workers’ chances of making mistakes.

Optimizing Your Work Environment

The infographic provides a series of tips on how to optimize a work environment. Turning off notifications on phones is recommended as notifications can disrupt thoughts making it difficult to get back on track.

Three hours a day is spent checking work email and two hours looking at personal emails. Cutting down on checking emails could therefore be an effective way to stop wasting time.

Writing down tasks in order of rank and importance can help workers focus on what is most urgent. Prioritizing tasks can help employees stop wasting time.

To help remain productive and focused it is recommended to take a 15-minute break from the screen every two hours.

Tech to Retain Focus and Productivity

The infographic looks at the tech available to help people maintain focus and productivity in modern workspaces.

Freedom.to is an effective tool to assist workers in setting up lists of website and apps that can be distracting. Freedom.to blocks access to such distractions during scheduled times of day.

Trello enables employees to list tasks and separate products by board to keep track of tasks and projects. Noisli provides custom background to drown out unpleasant noises that could prove distracting.

How to maintain focus even with distractions

I was listening to a Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast and he was explaining to leaders how 2021 could be their most focused year ever. His simple premise was that a person needs to avoid distractions and maintain focus .

Are we ever distracted? According to Business Insider, the average person touches their phone over 2,600 times a day. Those really tied to their phones can handle their phone more than 5,400 times per day. Some of those touches are completely legitimate, but some are distractions. The average person is on social media almost two and a half hours each day. Again, some involvement on social media may be necessary, but it can also be a great distraction. Groeschel eloquently summarizes the destructive nature of distractions: “They divide our heart, disengage our mind, distort our perspective, discourage our soul, and disrupt our priorities.”

As we reduce distractions, we want to maintain and increase our focus. For all of us, there are important targets we want to hit. Clearly as believers we want to focus on the things that matter most to the Lord – and the things that should matter the most to us. May I suggest that we focus on knowing, loving, and serving Christ; loving our families; prizing our relationships with our brothers and sister in Christ; growing stronger in prayer and reaching others for Christ. Make your own list of personal distractions you want to eliminate and areas where you want to place your focus.

I will close with a Scripture that demonstrates that this concept is thoroughly and clearly biblical. Hebrews 12 describes the process of getting rid of distractions (everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles). The next thing the Hebrew author tells us is to focus on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Hebrews 12:1-3 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles , and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

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How To Focus Despite Distractions

Each day employees spend 56 minutes on their smartphones and 42 minutes on personal tasks — That’s 20% of each workday wasted on distractions

Modern Workplaces

  • Culture of Distraction?
    • 99% of employees say they are distracted daily
      • The office makes these hard to do
        • Video conferences 93%
        • Phone calls 51%
  • Why We Can’t Focus
    • Sleep deprivation
    • Multitasking
    • Stress
    • Busy environment
  • Generational Divide
    • Gen Z respondents are most productive when working with others
      • BUT 74% of all Gen Z and Millennials are distracted at work
        • 69% admit that their smartphone is one of the biggest distractions
    • BUT Baby Boomers feel more productive in a quiet space with less going on
      • 3X as many Boomers* are unable to concentrate in an open office
  • Wasted Time
    • 84% of workers believe they can refocus in under 30 minutes
      • BUT even tiny interruptions increase your chances of making a mistake
    • Due to coronavirus, many are working remotely for the first time
      • Over 50% are worried about the household distracting from their work

We’re up against internal and external challenges when it comes to overcoming distractions

The Lost Art of Concentration

  • Wired for Distraction
    • Popular games & apps were designed to change our behaviors
      • AND human minds are designed for continuous distraction
      • In a study conducted with 2,250 adults
        • At any moment, 47% reported their mind was wandering
  • Inability to Focus
    • Mind-wandering is so natural that often we don’t even notice it happening
    • According to a study by Microsoft Canada
  • Our average attention span in 2008: 12 seconds
    • By 2013: 8 seconds
    • 1 second less than a goldfish
  • The Role of Sleep
    • According to the CDC
      • Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep nightly
      • BUT 1 in 3 Americans adults sleep less than the recommended hours
    • Continued lack of sleep could destroy our brain cells
      • According to The Journal of Neuroscience, when mice are deprived of sleep neurons in their brains begin to die

If we can’t change how our brains work or where we work, how do we get ahead of distractions before they happen?

O ptimize Your Work Environment

  • Start Here
    • Turn off notifications
      • While they might seem to be momentary distractions, notifications
        • Disrupt our thoughts for much longer
        • Make it difficult to get back on track
    • Cut down on email
      • Americans spend much of their day checking emails
        • Work 3+ hours
        • Personal 2+ hours
      • Just 3 of every 26 minutes spent responding to email are job-related
    • List out tasks
      • Write down and rank your tasks by important to not important
      • This will help you
        • Focus on what is most urgent
        • Avoid wasting time
    • Take breaks
      • Look away from your screen to rest your eyes
        • Take a 15-minute break for every 2 hours staring at your screen
      • “Heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli — they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media” – Microsoft 2015 study

Even a simple routine can help clear our minds ㅡ Tim Ferriss, a uthor of The 4 Hour Work Week, r ecommends eating the same meal for lunch every day

  • Tech To Help Focus Like The Pros
    • Freedom.to
      • Set up a list of websites and apps that can be distracting
      • Schedule time each day and Freedom will block access
    • Trello
      • Use lists of tasks and separate projects by board to keep track of projects
      • Minimize notifications and only see updates for what you need to know
    • Noisli
      • Custom background sound to drown out unpleasant noises
      • Mix different sounds and create a personalized atmosphere

What does focus mean? It means to pay attention.

How to maintain focus even with distractions

With advances in telecommuting technology, working from home has been steadily gaining momentum in recent years. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic saw a sudden spike in the number of employers letting employees work remotely.

Despite the popularity of homeworking and 91% of remote workers feeling more productive, distractions are rife in homeworking environments.

Keep Focus Despite Distractions

With workplace dynamics changing, it’s more important than ever that workers don’t give into distractions. To help employees maintain focus in new working environments, Nonprofit Colleges Online published an infographic. The infographic was commissioned by NowSourcing, an infographic agency that specializes in data visualizations and interactive infographics.

The ‘How to Keep Focus Despite Distractions’ infographic outlines the many distractions of modern workspaces. It provides tricks and tips to help employees keep focused when working in remote environments.

Culture of Distraction

According to the infographic, 99% of employees say they are distracted daily. 93% of workers cite video conferencing as the primary distraction. 51% say they are most distracted by phone calls.

Why We Can’t Focus

The research looked at the reasons behind workers’ lack of focus. Stress, multitasking, sleep deprivation and a busy environment, are leading reasons for an inability to focus at work.

Generational Divide

NowSource’s study explored how different generations feel about distractions and focus in modern workplaces. 74% of Generation Z and Millennials are distracted at work. 69% of these age groups admit their smartphones are one of the biggest distractions.

Baby Boomers admit to feeling more productive in a quiet space with less going on. Three times as many Boomers are unable to concentrate in an open space compared to younger generations.

Working from Home

The study found that because of coronavirus many are working remotely for the first time. More than 50% of recipients have concerns that household distractions prevent them from working. 84% of workers say they can refocus in less than 30 minutes. However, even small distractions can increase workers’ chances of making mistakes.

Optimizing Your Work Environment

The infographic provides a series of tips on how to optimize a work environment. Turning off notifications on phones is recommended as notifications can disrupt thoughts making it difficult to get back on track.

Three hours a day is spent checking work email and two hours looking at personal emails. Cutting down on checking emails could therefore be an effective way to stop wasting time.

Writing down tasks in order of rank and importance can help workers focus on what is most urgent. Prioritizing tasks can help employees stop wasting time.

To help remain productive and focused it is recommended to take a 15-minute break from the screen every two hours.

Tech to Retain Focus and Productivity

The infographic looks at the tech available to help people maintain focus and productivity in modern workspaces.

Freedom.to is an effective tool to assist workers in setting up lists of website and apps that can be distracting. Freedom.to blocks access to such distractions during scheduled times of day.

Trello enables employees to list tasks and separate products by board to keep track of tasks and projects. Noisli provides custom background to drown out unpleasant noises that could prove distracting.

How to maintain focus even with distractions

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In a world filled with instant access to information, coworkers and friends, finishing a solid eight hours of work seems nearly impossible. Avoiding distractions, however, is not a Herculean task. Just like getting to the gym each day, staying focused while at work is a matter of building good habits.

1. Set clear goals

–> Instead of saying, “I’m going to work a solid eight hours every day,” make a list of your top priorities for the week. This helps you avoid reacting to every distraction that comes up. Review your list each morning and decide—realistically—what tasks you can accomplish that day. Be concrete: “I’m going to finish steps 1-3 of the project by noon.”

2. Work in 60-90-minute blocks

As we work, our alertness drops off, increasing the lure of distractions. Set a timer and take a break at the end of each cycle. Reset your focus by listening to music for a few minutes, taking a short walk, or going for lunch.

3. Turn off the world

Let’s face it, the world is a distracting place. Avoid temptation by severing all ties. This includes email, office phones, cell phones and your coworkers. This might require finding a quiet place away from your office to work—such as booking a conference room or hiding out in your office. If you need to, set up a system for urgent messages to reach you. This doesn’t include where to go for happy hour.

4. Schedule distractions

–> Distractions are not all bad, but you need to make them work for you. Use them as reward for a solid chunk of work. Start out with distractions that are good for you, such as working out or calling your friends. If Facebook and Twitter are your thing, block off time in your schedule to post or browse other people’s updates, but stick to your schedule. Remember, you control the distractions.

–> 5. Practice not being distracted

Meditation is a great way to do this because it’s just you and your thoughts. If that’s not your thing, practice single-tasking throughout your day. At lunch, just eat. Don’t read the newspaper or check your email at the same time. In meetings, don’t doodle in your notebook or play with your phone.

6. Pay attention to yourself

Start to notice when and how you get distracted. What thoughts happen just before that? Are you tired, hungry, or bored? As you learn what triggers your distractions, you can head them off before you slip into an hour-long IM chat.

7. Use technology to your advantage

From blocking out distracting websites to tracking how much time you spend surfing the web, many apps can actually help you stay focused. Once you identify what your habits are, pick one that will help you meet your goals, but don’t let these become distractions in themselves.

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How to maintain focus even with distractions

In order to develop the ability to stay focused, it is important to know what it is and why is it important. Focus forms an impeccable part of our lives without which success is impossible. Be it working on a large important project or appearing for an examination at your university, being focused can work wonders. It not only helps us perform an activity, but also enjoy the entirety of the process.

The Importance of Staying Focused

What Does It Mean?

The concept of staying focused is to have a clear idea of your objectives and goals while working dedicatedly towards achieving them. Being focused in the moment allows you to center all your attention and concentration on one activity that you are trying to complete. You tend to keep all other unimportant chores aside and focus your undivided attention on the task. Only in this state you can reach flow and maximum productivity.

The ability to remain focused is one of the most important qualities that must be possessed by a person. Nevertheless, people often tend to lack the absolute power of concentration. The best way to attain complete focus is to train your mind for the cause. Being focused helps you on several levels. It allows you control your thoughts, improves your memory and the ability to study, gain inner peace, strengthen your intuition and to work more efficiently.

The Difficulties of Keeping Focused

There are times when we find it difficult to focus on a certain task. For one, we live in a world congested with information and input. The next great distraction is just a tap of your finger away. With so much happening around us, it becomes quite difficult to remain focused on a task and not get distracted. Technology has definitely helped improve human productivity, but has, ironically become one of the greatest hindrances as well. Further, we live an a world full of opportunities. Never in history, we had more options for how to live our life, what projects to pursue and what hobbies to live.

How to Keep Focus in a World of Distractions

In order to be productive you need to organize your mind, your environment and your systems in a simple manner that support your focus. Here is how you keep your focus.

Plan Out Your Day the Previous Night

Prior planning is extremely important when it comes to focusing on your task for a day. A few basic decisions can work wonders. What are your immediate tasks for tomorrow? Which task would you tend to the first thing you begin working the next day? It is easier to concentrate and focus on a task when you have it sorted on a prior basis. This is like setting a budget when you spend money. You can decide on a budget in the beginning of the month and stick to it right till the end so that you have a handsome amount of savings left.

Tend to the Most Important and Difficult Things First

Be at office or otherwise, certain things are bound to be more difficult than the rest. Nevertheless, fretting these tasks will not help in the long run. Difficult works are evidently not going to become easier with time. However, performing these tasks right when you enter the office will give you a boost in motivation and productivity. For many people, the brain is at its sharpest during the early hours of the day. This works as an added benefit when it comes to tackling difficult jobs. Related to this is an easy to implement princible: Do not make checking your inbox the first thing you do in the morning. Get something important of your list or do something for your health and wellbeing.

Keep everything, which is not relevant today out of sight.

The key to absolute focus is to keep all irrelevant things out of sight. Things that are not important are usually a cause of distraction during work hours. There are situations that need your immediate attention, while there are ones that do not. Stop fiddling with your cellphone every 10 minutes when you are in the middle of a project or refrain from talking to your colleagues while performing an urgent task. This will help you retain your focus on the work alone. Eliminate distractions to ensure that you have higher productivity.

Organize your next actions for minimal mental distraction.

Beyond the imediate task, organize your to-dos and next actions in a system you trust. Get the stuff off your mind so that your mind can focus on what you are doing and does not have to remember and think about all the things you might be wanting to do in the future. Build a systems for your tasks that only shows you your agenda for today and organizes everything else in a simple manner. A tickler file for example offers you daily folders to get organized in the short and mid-term and monthly folders for simplified the long-term planning.

Remind Yourself of Your Goals

Creating a vision is important. It acts as daily reminder of what you are working towards and what you wish to achieve. Apart from this, knowing the reason behind those set goals is even a greater motivator. It is essential to have a clear vision and focus on achieving the best of results.

The Inversion Technique

In most cases, we are busy wondering about ways in which we can become more productive throughout the day. We waste valuable time researching rather than acting at the right time. Inversion can be a great way to get out of this. Inversion is a mental model with the ability to think backwards. Since negative thoughts arise more easily to human beings, figuring out things that can distract you from work somehow becomes the best way to eliminate them. Once you figure out the reasons, you can avoid them successfully.

Keep Up and Regenerate Your Energy

If your feel your energy fading in between your work sessions, take a quick short break to refresh your mind. Working for a long stretch of time can break your focus and make you feel lethargic. Usually after a short break you tend to come back with a lot more vigour and a much sharper mental focus. Brief retreats from work also give you enough time to regenerate and refresh your mind.

To sum it up

Focus and concentration are the driving forces behind the success of an individual. However, it cannot be acquired over night and requires proper training of your mind and systems to organize yourself. In a world of distractions, a focused mind can always keep you afloat.