Thursday, 20 April 2017

How To Stay Focused and Concentrate

We all have our own work to do, no matter what we do or who we are, we all have deadlines and things we have to get on with.
We all know how hard it is to concentrate as well, there's so many distractions around us and often so many things we'd rather be doing than our work.
No matter what you do, whether you're trying to slam out an assignment, whether you're trying to focus yourself so you can revise, whether you're trying to create a new piece of art or whether (like myself) you're trying to finish editing your novel. No matter what work you're trying to get done this post is for you.
In this post I will give you a few tips and tricks I've found quite useful for maintaining focus along my journey.

So here they are, my top 5 tips for ways to stay focused and concentrate on your work!

Turn Off Technology

You heard me, no phones, no TV, no tablets, no games and especially no social media sites. We've all been there, when we're trying to type away at our laptops but end up scrolling through Facebook or Twitter. It's a major distraction for me! Sometimes one of the best things to do is to switch off your internet so you don't get any notifications, put your phone on silent or turn it off and make sure you put it out of reach, that way there's no way you're going to get distracted from what you're doing.
As much as this is a good idea, and it really does work, I find it such a struggle to stick to. I always get tempted to check my phone while working, I'm tempted as I write this post! A good way to help you to stick with the 'no technology rule' is to set an alarm for when you're allowed to have a 'break', meaning when the alarm goes you can have 10 minutes or so to catch up on everything you've missed online, if you want to of course. Then once your allotted time is up then you can resume your work until the next 'break'. Just make sure you're strict with yourself and get back to work when you're supposed to. Otherwise you'll never get anything done!
Turning off all your online distractions will really help you to focus on your work and get much more done!


Make Goals:

One of the best ways to maintain focus is to make yourself goals to work towards. I don't know about you but sometimes I feel like my mind is swimming with all the ideas I have and things I need to do. Therefore it's a great idea to make yourself some daily, (or even weekly) goals, this way you'll know exactly how much work you need to get done and by exactly when. Personally I think that daily goals are the best way to go. For example on this rainy Thursday evening my goal is to finish this blog post and also write another one ready to post later on. Having goals really helps me to push on with my work, and it will definitely help you too. No matter what work you're doing you can set yourself goals depending on how much you want to get done.
If you're doing an essay you can set a word count goal, if you're revising then you can set a goal of how long you want to revise for or how many pages of notes you want to read through.
It's a good idea to make sure you write down what your goals are otherwise it will be too easy to forget exactly what they are. Also you may find that having them written down stops you from bending them as much. I find that using a weekly planner or a diary helps because you can make goals for each day. If that doesn't work for you then perhaps writing your goals down on a piece of paper or a post-it note and sticking it on your wall or computer screen. Whatever you find works best for you, just make sure your goals are clear and visible to you.

Also to ensure you actually reach your goals it's best you make them achievable for yourself. Figure out your work pace and your typing speed and then make your goals based on those two factors. There's no point giving yourself goals that are too much for you to cope with, otherwise it will make you want to give up. It doesn't matter how you get your work done, just get it done!


Create Your Own Work Space

It's so important to have a place to do your work that is completely your own. Even if you don't always use it, it's a good idea to have it there. Especially if you're working somewhere else and it's proving too distracting for you. People tend to find it easier to work in certain places. You might find that a cosy coffee shop is the place for you, or sitting downstairs on the sofa with your dog. No matter where it is you work, you have to make sure it is somewhere you can get the most work possible done. For me, the most effective place to work is at my desk, but whatever space works for you is perfect. Just make sure it ticks all the boxes before you try to create your best work there;
  • Good lighting
  • Near a window
  • Away from a TV
  • Clock for setting time goals
  • Plenty of room
  • Everything you need nearby
  • Plenty of inspiration
The list above is key for creating an effective workspace, the more distractions the less work you will achieve. Therefore just remember when creating your workspace, make sure it has everything YOU require and it keeps YOU inspired and working.


Listen To The Right Music

As much as we all love listening to our favourite artists and bands, they aren't always the best choice for keeping us focused. You'll normally find that the music you love is the worst music to listen to. If you plug in a playlist of all your favourite songs then you're more likely to sing along to them and focus more on skipping through all the ones you don't feel like listening to. This then becomes a distraction because you are concentrating more on which song is on next, rather than the work you're supposed to be doing. I have found that listening to songs that I don't know very well works much better for me because I'm not as interested in them. I also find that songs with a very small amount of lyrics are better to listen to because then I'm just listening to pure music rather than focusing on what the lyrics are.
What I usually do is to use YouTube to find playlists that have all the sorts of songs that help me work on them. It's a good idea to save any playlists you do find that work for you so that you can access them easier the next time. I found that searching 'Songs to write to' or 'Inspirational music' brings out some good playlists to use. Another tip is to not have your music too loud, it needs to be more like background music than anything else, having the music up and blaring in your ears is another way to distract you from what you are doing. Keep your music low and simple.


Take Regular Breaks

Working can be tiring, and if you try to keep working for too long without stopping then your work will suffer. You need to work for hourly periods of time and then stop for a few minutes, and I don't just mean stop, sit and stare at the wall for 10 minutes. You need to actually get up and get your blood flowing again, eat something and have some water. Anything that takes your mind off your work for a while will help. I think having 10-15 minute breaks is perfect, if you break for too long then you won't want to get back to work afterwards. Also doing something you enjoy will really help because you can forget about your work for 10 minutes and then go back to it feeling refreshed afterwards. It will also give your brain time to come up with new ideas.
Set an alarm on your phone or clock to tell you when its time to have a break. Then reset the alarm each time before you start working again.
Look out for my next blog post which is all about 'How to Take a Break'.


There you go, those are my top 5 tips on how to remain focused and concentrate on your work. These are just what I've found that work for me, you don't have to follow them too but I'm simply sharing what keeps me working.
Do you have any other useful ways of staying focused? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time. x

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