In today’s fast-paced world, countless things are vying for our attention every day and our attention spans are shrinking rapidly. The solution to improving your brain health and remedying your dwindling concentration is focus techniques. Focus methods help you sort through the clutter, conserve your attention, and direct it towards tasks that are important to you.
Many concentration techniques can help you fight off distraction, develop a razor-sharp focus, and even prevent memory loss. Keep reading to explore different focus methods, discover suggestions for focus ideas you can implement to boost your concentration skills, and get tips on how to focus.
Best Focus Technique Examples
Distraction is not a novel problem. People have struggled with distraction and lack of motivation throughout history and have developed ingenious solutions that have had a huge impact on concentration. These solutions have evolved into focus techniques. We’ll introduce you to some of the most popular and effective focus techniques in the section below.
The Pareto Principle, also called the 80/20 rule, says that 20 percent of your output brings in 80 percent of your input, so you should focus on the 20 percent input that brings in the most rewards. Learning how to apply the Pareto Principle in life can help you conserve your mental resources and keep your attention sharp for priority tasks.
The Eisenhower Matrix helps you conserve your mental resources by classifying your work according to the type of task. You can sort them by important, not important, not urgent, and urgent tasks. When you input your task into the matrix, it helps you decide whether it is something you should do now, schedule for later, delegate, or delete from your to-do list.
Carl Newport developed the deep work technique. This involves separating tasks into deep work and shallow work. Shallow work refers to those boring tasks that are primarily mundane and don’t require much focus, like replying to emails or filling in spreadsheets. Deep work refers to complex projects that are cognitively demanding and require high levels of focus.
Batching involves grouping and performing tasks of a similar nature together. Instead of replying to emails as they come, you can assign a day and time for responding to them. The benefit of this technique is that since the tasks are so similar, you don’t have to switch your focus every time you start a new assignment. Batching allows you to work smarter, not harder.
The Pomodoro Technique works by scheduling work sessions in 25-minute bursts called pomodoros. After completing one pomodoro, you take a short break time and repeat the process. You may take an extended mental break every four pomodoros. This time-blocking technique ensures your focus doesn’t drop due to constant stimulation.
Ivy Lee Method
The Ivy Lee method is deceptively simple but can work wonders for your focus. Simply write down six things you want to do the next day in descending order of importance. The next day, work on each task. Eliminating decision fatigue by planning your day the night before makes it easier to focus, giving you more attentional resources to spend on your scheduled task.
OKR stands for Objective and Key Results. This focusing technique demands you write out your objective and its key results. The objective is the goal you want to achieve, while the key results are the benchmarks that measure your performance. OKRs are not only suitable for building individual focus but can improve team focus as well.
Learning how to set SMART goals can help you evaluate your progress and make corrections where your focus is lacking. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. If faced with a challenging task and feeling overwhelmed, try breaking it down into smaller, simple tasks. Daily tasks can help you delegate work and reduce your energy levels.
How to Focus at Work
- Set goals. Take five minutes before you begin working to establish your goals and objectives for the day. Write down everything you want to accomplish and rank them in descending order of importance. Having a physical representation of your goals can help you gauge your progress and refocus when you get distracted.
- Eliminate distractions. Create an environment that is free from all distractions. That might mean finding a quiet place to work, informing your colleagues that you don’t wish to be disturbed, or turning off notifications on your phone. The goal is to create a space where you can focus without outside interference.
- Work in short bursts. Consider incorporating short breaks while working to refresh your mind and make you more productive. Your rest periods are meant to rejuvenate you, so avoid screens or any stressors during that time. Instead, you can take a walk, listen to music, or chat with a colleague.
- Practice until you get it right. Consciously building your focus will be challenging the first couple of times, and you might not be able to meet all your goals. Go easy on yourself and leave room for error. The more you practice, the better you’ll get, so keep at it and don’t be discouraged.
- Reward yourself. When you achieve your goals, reward yourself with your favorite movie or dessert. A recent study published in the National Library of Medicine revealed that your attention is automatically drawn to high-reward activities. By rewarding yourself after focusing, you’re training your brain to recognize focusing as a high-reward activity.
Focus Ideas: Top 5 Tips to Master Focus
It can be highly frustrating when trying to focus but your mind keeps drifting. Below, you’ll find five tips you can incorporate into your future projects to build your concentration muscles and give you an extra boost.
Manage Your Eating Habits
You are what you eat, and your diet can significantly impact your ability to focus. Harvard School of Medicine recommends incorporating brain foods like berries, coffee, and vegetables into your diet. Caffeinated drinks can boost your focus, but avoid taking them in large quantities as too much can cause anxiety and poor concentration.
When you multitask and split your focus between two or more things, you may think you can get a lot more done, but in reality, your productivity drops, and you lose focus faster. Instead of trying to multitask, focus on a single task and give it your undivided attention. You’ll find that not only will you be more productive, but the quality of your work will improve.
Mindfulness is being aware of what you’re doing at the moment. You can practice mindfulness by meditating or through deep breathing exercises. By monitoring your breathing or poses, you teach your brain to pay attention to a singular thing for extended periods, which will carry over into your work. Regular yoga practice can help you work on mindfulness.
Take Short Breaks
Our brains are wired to filter out sources of high stimulation levels, so the longer you spend on a task, the more your focus drops. Instead of trying to force focus for long periods, take breaks in between by taking a walk or doing some light exercise. These short break times will give your mind a break, interrupt the monotony of the task, and allow you to see it through fresh eyes.
Regular exercise is good for building focus. Light aerobic exercise can stimulate your muscles, relieve tightness or soreness, and get you alert and ready to focus. Besides physical activity, you can also try brain exercises to build your mental muscles, such as puzzles, cards, or learning a new musical instrument. Stimulate your brain and create focus.
Are Focus Techniques Worth Learning?
Focus techniques are worth learning because they improve your productivity and efficiency. You’ll be able to get more done in less time, and with far less mental strain. Focus techniques are beneficial for career switchers because they’re able to properly balance their workload and tackle each task with poise and concentration.
You can apply these techniques to all areas of your life to not only be a strong employee or worker but a connected human being. Using these focus methods will help you ace that test, get that promotion, and even prepare for top-notch programs, such as the top coding bootcamps.
Focus Techniques FAQ
An excellent way to stop distractions is to silence your phone or turn it off. Your phone can be a prime source of distraction. In a phone usage survey conducted by Statista, about 46 percent of respondents reported spending about five to six hours on their phones daily. If you must work on your phone, download apps you can use to temporarily block out distracting notifications.
Yes, focus techniques will work on people with ADHD. You might struggle more than others to implement these techniques, but they work regardless of your ADHD. The key is to work with rather than against your brain. In hyperfocus, do deep work and direct your attention to tasks that matter, and when you find it challenging to concentrate, do shallow work.
Setting SMART goals and creating an action plan for achieving those goals can help you focus when studying. A study calendar is a great way to do this. You’ll need a quiet and comfortable place to study, and you must avoid all distractions by switching off notifications or turning off your phone.
Internal and external factors may contribute to your loss of focus. Internal factors affect your mental and physical condition. They include hunger, interest, ADHD, or cognitive ability impairment. Conversely, external factors refer to your environment and are more easily remedied. They include noise, colleagues, or any unfavorable environment.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.