3 Ways To Maintain Focus As You Age

By Conqueror Team

Do you want to boost your focus and determination? You’ve tons of things waiting to distract you as you strive to reach your ultimate goal. But the important thing in life is that you can’t tell a success story without including a determination chapter and this one is often the longest. Success demands us to have many traits and the most important ones are willpower and determination. Most of us believe that determination is an innate trait. That’s an absolute fallacy. It would be unfair to think people are born with determination and only those can be successful. Nobody is born with infinite success. If you ask any successful person what they did it to ‘make it’ in life, they will tell you that determination is a sacrifice they had to make. Instead of living under the false belief that they were born with determination, they came up with ways to harness and utilize what they had more effectively.

Article Summary: This article discusses the three best methods to maintain your focus as you age and harness determination throughout your lifetime. Here are the three ways of achieving this:

●          Always plan your day the night before;

●          Start with the most challenging things;

●          Get rid of time wasters and distractors.

1.  Always Plan Your Day The Night Before

Every night, before you go to bed, plan the next day’s activities. Always plan what you’ll wear, the meal you’ll have for lunch, dinner, and anything else you can think of. Pack a healthy lunch for the next day before you go to sleep, instead of deciding about it minutes before you set off for work. You should also plan a budget to avoid spending money on unnecessary items. Once you decide on a budget, stick to it.

Decide the night before that you won’t surf the internet or check your emails until you’ve attended to the more critical tasks that need to take priority. Create a schedule and stick to it. When the day ends, shut your eyes for a minute and congratulate yourself on the excellent way in which you’ve taken charge of your day.

Adopting the habit of planning your day helps you decide what should take priority and what can be postponed. This will help you avoid getting sidetracked and wasting precious time and energy on small things.

2. Start With The Most Difficult Things

Complicated things are not easy to handle when someone is tired. You might even find yourself fretting or putting them off. Start with the most challenging task in the morning while your mind is still fresh and you have more energy.

Our minds are fresh and sharpest in the morning hours. This is the best time to tackle demanding tasks. After completing them, we can rest and then attend to the more routine tasks that don’t require as much energy whether mental or physical.

3. Get Rid Of Time Wasters And Distractors

Real emergencies can happen, and we must find time for them. However, most of the things that come up only cause distractions and don’t require an immediate response.

Attending non-urgent requests will only make your day more difficult, as it will pave the way for more distracting issues. By ignoring them, you’ll be proving to yourself that you are strong-willed, focused and too busy to be bothered by trivial, time-wasting things.

Bottom Line

Distractors emerge as we age, making us lose focus on reaching our ultimate goals. However, some things are critical to maintaining our focus and determination. Planning, avoiding distractions and starting your day with the more challenging tasks will help enhance your focus, making you age gracefully.

Are you one of those people who forget simple things? Maybe you’re not even sure if you are that forgetful. Often we feel like we are really good at remembering things – but then we find ourselves forgetting where we put our keys, or what to pick up from the store on our way home, or the name of someone we met yesterday. Start Now with our course on improving your memory power and take your life to the next level.

8 Scientifically Proven Ways To Beat Mental Fatigue

This nice article by  Stephen Altrogge will help you stay alert and sharp mentally.

Are you dealing with mental fatigue?

Picture this scenario: You head to work, feeling as though you’re well-rested, and midway through your morning, you’re already tired. You’re drained and worn out, even though your day is barely started.

Or, through the course of a relatively light day of work — no meetings, no taxing decisions, no major fires to put out — you feel mentally and emotionally exhausted.

Or, you get these same feelings — mental tiredness, lack of brainpower to process even the simplest thoughts — on a Saturday, when things are at their least stressful.

If any of the above sounds familiar or you’ve had bouts with exhaustion, decreased motivation, lack of sleep or loss of appetite, or sustained irritability, you’re most likely suffering from mental fatigue.

Without proper care and attention to your mental health, mental fatigue can turn into far more severe conditions, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Burnout
  • Depression
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Increased susceptibility to illness

In this guide, we’re going to break down what mental fatigue is, what causes it, and how you can overcome it. 

Photo by Callum Wale on Unsplash

What Is Mental Fatigue And What Causes It?

Mental fatigue or mental exhaustion is just that, the sense that your brain is running on empty. You can’t think clearly. It’s a challenge to process even the simplest information. You’re mentally and emotionally drained.

For many individuals, they feel like their mind is in a constant fog.

A few examples of mental fatigue might include: 

  • Asking someone the same question twice, without realizing it
  • Having to review basic information multiple times before grasping it
  • Snapping at unsuspecting friends, family, or coworkers over petty irritations

Concentration on any one task is nearly impossible, you have trouble focusing or maintaining focus, and even small things seem impossible.

Mental fatigue can happen to anyone at any time, especially those who’ve experienced very little rest over a certain period. Stress is a common trigger and the brain fog can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

For many people, rest is the solution to mental fatigue. In other instances, by simply stepping away from the source of stress for a while, you can take back control of your mental state.

For others, however, mental exhaustion may prove debilitating. If not dealt with properly, it can cause serious health issues that go way beyond brain fog.

In extreme cases, mental fatigue may lead to detachment and isolation from others, deep feelings of anger, apathy, or hopelessness. 

Photo by Finn on Unsplash

Symptoms of mental exhaustion

Although mental exhaustion is primarily associated with your mental health, it can also be detrimental to your physical and emotional wellbeing.

Emotionally, you can experience:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Feeling really unmotivated
  • Irritability (often increasing in intensity as the fatigue worsens)
  • Lack of productivity
  • Trouble focusing on even the simplest, most straightforward tasks
  • Feeling less positive and more pessimistic
  • Anger at the smallest issues or inconveniences
  • Lack of concern for yourself or those around you (even those you care about)
  • Isolation or detachment from others, either on purpose or subconsciously
  • Sense of impending dread or constant hopelessness

From a physical standpoint, mental exhaustion may result in:

  • Headaches
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight gain or loss (often dramatic changes)
  • Aches and pains
  • Chronic physical fatigue, weakness, tiredness
  • Trouble sleeping, including insomnia
  • Greater susceptibility to illness

Chronic mental fatigue will heighten physical and emotional symptoms. What may otherwise be a minor headache can become a crushing pain when mentally exhausted. A fleeting bout of anxiety in normal circumstances can result in uncontrolled worry.

Outward signs of mental fatigue

Beyond your mental or physical state, mental fatigue will also impact your behavior. If left unchecked, it can create rifts in your relationships, both personal and professional.

Mental fatigue places a strain on your social interactions, either causing you to lash out at others or withdraw from those closest to you.

You can also experience a sudden lack of motivation. The worse the mental exhaustion, the more likely you are to call in sick, look for reasons to avoid or miss work, or reject social or work-related commitments. 

In the worst cases, your productivity may drop dramatically, and you may not recognize the person you’ve become.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Causes of mental exhaustion

Mental fatigue can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime, and in any environment. It can be caused by many different factors, both personal and professional. 

Some causes of mental fatigue and exhaustion include:

  • Jobs with high levels of stress 
  • Working extended periods without taking breaks
  • Having to make too many decisions, leading to decision fatigue
  • Constantly switching between tasks
  • Poor balance between your personal and professional life
  • Lack of satisfaction with your current job situation or being unemployed
  • Financial struggles
  • Living with a serious illness of having chronic health issues
  • Having to care for someone with a serious illness or who has chronic health issues
  • Being isolated socially

Bottom line: If you don’t pay close attention to your emotional health, social support system, or overall work-life balance, you’re more susceptible to mental fatigue.

Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

8 Scientifically Proven Strategies For Overcoming Mental Fatigue

Thankfully, if you suffer from mental fatigue, there are ways to alleviate the mental drain. 

From changes in lifestyle and work habits to taking time for yourself, eliminating exhaustion isn’t difficult. It does, however, require developing healthy habits and sticking to them.

Structure your day to match rising and falling energy levels

One of the first steps to reducing mental fatigue is getting in tune with how your energy levels rise and fall. Even at your most rested, you deal with ebbs and flows of energy throughout your day. 

Everyone does. You have periods of high-energy and moments when that energy wanes. These up and down cycles are called “ultradian rhythms”, and each cycle lasts somewhere between 90 to 120 minutes. 

In their book The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz note:

These ultradian rhythms help to account for the ebb and flow of our energy throughout the day. Physiological measures such as heart rate, hormonal levels, muscle tension and brain-wave activity all increase during the first part of the cycle—and so does alertness. After an hour or so, these measures start to decline. Somewhere between 90 and 120 minutes, the body begins to crave a period of rest and recovery.

You’re at your most productive in 90 to 120-minute peak energy cycles and your least productive during 20-minute “troughs” in between.

To take advantage of your body’s natural rhythms, figure out when your peaks and valleys occur and schedule your day’s task around them. To learn your ultradian rhythms, keep a log for a few weeks of your energy levels each hour. This will give you a fairly good feel for when your energy is at its highest and when you need to take breaks. Alternatively, you can use the Rise sleep app to help you calculate your ultradian rhythms. 

Structure your day so that your work on your most important tasks when your energy levels are highest. When your energy levels dip, tackle the mundane stuff – answer email, review reports or saved articles, or perform low-priority tasks that don’t demand too much or your brainpower.

Spend energy on high-value activities

If you want to make the most of your brainpower, don’t let it go to waste. Like a vehicle left out in the elements to rust and decay, your brain loses its edge when it’s not regularly challenged or engaged. When you’re less engaged, it’s easier for mental fatigue to creep in.

Build your mental strength by engaging in high-value activities, like reading books (and not Facebook), learning a new skill, or doing hobbies and tasks that enrich you. Find activities and socialize with individuals that will improve your quality of life.

Obviously, there’s a time and place for turning your brain off and binging Netflix. But when your mind is constantly engaged in things you find fulfilling or with people you value, your mental health is less likely to suffer.

Eat foods that will fuel your brain

This is somewhat obvious, but it needs to be stated. Nutrition is a key factor in staying healthy and performing at peak levels.

Simply put, eating good foods will make you feel good. Eating bad foods will make you feel bad.

If you want to keep your mind at peak performance, eliminate refined sugars and heavily processed foods from your diet. Limit caffeine. When you eat, focus on proteins and snack wisely. Avoid candy bars or chips in favor of nuts (such as almonds), fruits, and whole grains.

Additionally, drink lots of water. Aside from the headaches it can create, dehydration impacts your ability to think, reason, and process information. Staying hydrated also maintains your energy levels and keeps fatigue at bay.

Reduce decision fatigue

If you’ve ever felt drained after having to make a bunch of decisions, then you know what decision fatigue is. 

In addition to draining on your ability to think clearly, decision fatigue can drain you physically. It can feel like you have a thousand pounds of weight on your head and your shoulders.

To avoid decision fatigue, which often comes from taking on too many tasks at one time, try setting aside specific blocks of time to address specific tasks.

For example, if you’re like most, you read and respond to email throughout the day. Instead, set aside a block of time in the morning and afternoon to address them all at once. Use Freedom to block your email except for those set times. 

In addition, take on your most important or pressing projects early in the day when your alertness and energy levels are at their highest. Your mental abilities will be clearer, your mind more focused, and your attention span longer.

By optimizing your time and keeping your attention on one thing at a time, you’ll be more focused on the decision-making process without them overwhelming you mentally.

Kill distractions

Of all the ways to beat mental fatigue, eliminating distractions is perhaps the most straightforward. And the most difficult to master.

After all, with so many online distractions to steal your attention from what’s truly important, wasting time is a modern-day pastime. Surfing the internet, scrolling through Facebook, watching YouTube videos, perusing Pinterest, curating playlists on Spotify, playing any number of addictive app games. And on and on.

All of this sensory overload, however, also overloads our brains. The more we engage with time-wasting distractions, the more stress they can create. 

Use Freedom to block the apps and websites that distract and overload your brain. Create a recurring session every morning so that you do deep work first rather than wasting time doomscrolling on Facebook. 

Photo by Gabe Pierce on Unsplash

Make exercise and sleep priorities

When it comes to your mental health, exercise and sleep are invaluable.

With exercise, it doesn’t require the time commitment as many people think. Moderate exercise – walking at a brisk pace every day for 20 to 30 minutes – can do wonders for your mental well-being.

Beyond helping you get into better shape physically, exercise boosts your immune system and increases endurance. It’s also a great stress reducer and will improve both your mood and anxiety levels. 

It’s critical that whatever your exercise routine, it’s easy for you to follow and stick to.

Sleep is also critical. Few things will improve your health faster than getting consistent, sustained periods of sleep. And the truth is, how you sleep (i.e. sleep hygiene) is equally as important as how much.

Your environment should be conducive to a good night’s rest. The room should be dark, quiet, and at a cool, comfortable temperature. Try to avoid electronics, particularly smartphones and tablets, at least two to three hours before bed. (Reading a physical book before bed is perfectly okay.)

As with exercise, create a sleep routine that is consistent and easily repeatable. Keep it calm and ensure that it occurs at the same time every evening (and that you wake up at the same time, too) to ensure the best night’s rest.

Take regular breaks throughout the workday

Conventional wisdom says that the harder you work, and the fewer breaks you take, the more productive you’ll be. While it may feel like you’re getting more done by “powering through,” the opposite is true. 

The reality is that your work slows, your focus drifts, and you grow less productive as the day wears on. You also stand a greater chance of increasing your stress levels versus those who take periodic breaks during the day.

Get up from your desk. Take a walk or do some other form of exercise. Sit outside. Visit with fellow coworkers for a few minutes about something other than work.

Even if it’s just for five to ten minutes, briefly removing yourself from the stresses of your day can be very calming. It also gives your mind a break and lets you quickly recharge for the next block of tasks. 

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Embrace the power nap

Finally, if your brain is on overload, or it feels like your mind is about to melt, shut it down, unplug it, and take a nap. Seriously.

Naps, especially power naps, are the equivalent of plugging in your smartphone in the middle of the day to get a little extra charge.

You may not be tired. You may still have plenty of gas in the tank. But a quick nap between 10 to 30 minutes can get your energy and performance back to their early morning levels.

Albert Einstein used naps to power his brain. His strategy was to hold something in his hand that would make a loud noise when it hit the floor. He would then settle into his armchair and nap until his hand relaxed and the thing he was holding hit the floor. This would allow him to drift into a light doze without falling into a deep sleep. 

Take Back Your Brain

Mental fatigue and exhaustion is a serious condition. Not only does it impact your mental and physical health, but it can also harm your productivity at work and your personal relationships at home. 

Worse, it can change who you are as an individual, result in depression, and seriously limit your capacity to function normally.

However, by taking stock of your mental health and employing one or more of the above methods for addressing mental fatigue, you’ll find yourself healthier, far more focused, and free from debilitating stress.  

Source: https://freedom.to/blog

7 Useful Tips for Improving Your Mental Focus

Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author, educational consultant, and speaker focused on helping students learn about psychology.

Staying on task can be difficult, but it can be particularly challenging when you are surrounded by constant distraction. In today’s always-connected world, diversions are nothing more than a click away.

Even during quiet moments, distraction is literally at your fingertips as you find yourself checking your Instagram notifications or the latest news updates.

The ability to concentrate on something in your environment and direct mental effort toward it is critical for learning new things, achieving goals, and performing well across a wide variety of situations.

Whether you are trying to finish a report at work or competing in a marathon, your ability to focus can mean the difference between success and failure.

Fortunately, focus is a lot like a mental muscle. The more you work on building it up, the stronger it gets.

Improving your mental focus is achievable, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always quick and easy. If it was simple, then we would all have the razor-sharp concentration of an elite athlete.

It will take some real effort on your part and you may have to make some changes to some of your daily habits. Here are some tips and tricks from psychology that can help you develop laser-like mental focus and concentration.1

Assess Your Mental Focus

Before you start working toward improving your mental focus, you might want to begin by assessing just how strong your mental focus is at the present moment.

Your Focus Is Good If…

  • You find it easy to stay alert
  • You set goals and break tasks up into smaller parts
  • You take short breaks, then get back to work

Your Focus Needs Work If…

  • You daydream regularly
  • You can’t tune out distractions
  • You lose track of your progress

If the first set of statements seems more your style, then you probably already have fairly good concentration skills, but you could be even stronger with a little practice.

If you identify more with the second set of statements, then you probably need to work on your mental focus quite a bit. It might take some time, but practicing some good habits and being mindful of your distractibility can help.

Eliminate Distractions

While it may sound obvious, people often underestimate just how many distractions prevent them from concentrating on the task at hand. Such intrusions might come in the form of a radio blaring in the background or perhaps an obnoxious co-worker who constantly drops by your cubicle to chat.

Minimizing these sources of distraction isn’t always as easy as it sounds. While it might be as simple as turning off the television or radio, you might find it much more challenging to deal with an interrupting co-worker, spouse, child, or roommate.

One way to deal with this is to set aside a specific time and place and request to be left alone for that period of time. Another alternative is to seek out a calm location where you know you will be able to work undisturbed. The library, a private room in your house, or even a quiet coffee shop might all be good spots to try.

Not all distractions come from outside sources. Exhaustion, worry, anxiety, poor motivation, and other internal disturbances can be particularly difficult to avoid.

A few strategies you might want to try to minimize or eliminate such internal distractions are to make sure you are well-rested prior to the task and to use positive thoughts and imagery to fight off anxiety and worry. If you find your mind wandering toward distracting thoughts, consciously bring your focus back to the task at hand.3

Limit Your Focus

Hero Images / Getty Images

While multitasking may seem like a great way to get a lot done quickly, it turns out that people are actually rather bad at it. Juggling multiple tasks at once can dramatically cut down on productivity and makes it much harder to hone in on the details that are truly important.

Attentional resources are limited so it is important to budget them wisely.

Think of your attention as a spotlight. If you shine that spotlight on one particular area, you can see things very clearly. If you were to try to spread that same amount of light across a large dark room, you might instead only glimpse the shadowy outlines.

Part of improving your mental focus is all about making the most of the resources you have available. Stop multitasking and instead give your full attention to one thing at a time.How Single-Tasking Can Reduce the Stress in Your Life4

Live in the Moment

Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

It’s tough to stay mentally focused when you are ruminating about the past, worrying about the future, or tuned out of the present moment for some other reason.

You have probably heard people talk about the importance of “being present.” It’s all about putting away distractions, whether they are physical (your mobile phone) or psychological (your anxieties) and being fully mentally engaged in the current moment.

This notion of being present is also essential for recapturing your mental focus. Staying engaged in the here and now keeps your attention sharp and your mental resources honed in on the details that really matter at a specific point in time.

It may take some time but work on learning to truly live in the moment. You cannot change the past and the future has not happened yet, but what you do today can help you avoid repeating past mistakes and pave a path for a more successful future.How to Forget a Bad Memory

Practice Mindfulness

Dougal Waters / Getty Images

Mindfulness is a hot topic right now, and for good reason. Despite the fact that people have practiced forms of mindfulness meditation for thousands of years, its many health benefits are only recently starting to be understood.

In one study, researchers had human resources professionals engage in simulations of the sort of complex multitasking they engaged in each day at work.1

These tasks had to be completed in 20 minutes and included answering phones, scheduling meetings, and writing memos with sources of information pouring in from multiple sources including by phone calls, emails, and text messages.

Some of the participants received 8 weeks of training in the use of mindfulness meditation, and the results found that only those who had received this training showed improvement in concentration and focus.

Members of the meditation group were able to stay on task longer, switched between tasks less frequently, and performed the work more efficiently than the other groups of participants.

Practicing mindfulness can involve learning how to meditate, but it can also be as simple as trying a quick and easy deep breathing exercise.

Quick Tip to Regain Focus

Start by taking several deep breaths while really focusing on each and every breath. When you feel your mind naturally begin to wander, gently and uncritically guide your focus back to your deep breathing.

While this might seem like a deceptively simple task, you may find that it is actually much more difficult than it appears. Fortunately, this breathing activity is something you can do anywhere and anytime. Eventually, you will probably find that it becomes easier to disengage from intrusive thoughts and return your focus to where it belongs.6

Take a Short Break

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Have you ever tried to focus on the same thing for a long period of time? After a while, your focus starts to break down and it becomes more and more difficult to devote your mental resources to the task. Not only that, but your performance ultimately suffers as a result.

Traditional explanations in psychology have suggested that this is due to attentional resources being depleted, but some researchers believe that it has more to do with the brain’s tendency to ignore sources of constant stimulation.

Researchers have found that even taking very brief breaks by shifting your attention elsewhere can dramatically improve mental focus.2

So the next time you are working on a prolonged task, such as preparing your taxes or studying for an exam, be sure to give yourself an occasional mental break.

Shift your attention to something unrelated to the task at hand, even if it is only for a few moments. These short moments of respite might mean that you are able to keep your mental focus sharp and your performance high when you really need it.7

Keep Practicing

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Building your mental focus is not something that will happen overnight. Even professional athletes require plenty of time and practice in order to strengthen their concentration skills.

One of the first steps is to recognize the impact that being distracted is having on your life. If you are struggling to accomplish your goals and find yourself getting sidetracked by unimportant details, it is time to start placing a higher value on your time.

By building your mental focus, you will find that you are able to accomplish more and concentrate on the things in life that truly bring you success, joy, and satisfaction.

source: https://www.verywellmind.com

Recommended books https://www.amazon.co.uk/shop/urconqueror

10 Strategies for Absolute Clarity

Are you loosing precious focus in life, Courtney Carver’s article can help you get back on track

Living intentionally requires clarity. When you are clear about what makes you happy, healthy, loving and wonderful, you can be happy, healthy, loving and wonderful.

Imagine a life with less confusion and doubt. Clarity makes everything easier, but getting there requires change and commitment especially if you are busy, distracted and overwhelmed.

If you want to make better decisions, become more trusting, be healthier, and do more meaningful work, try these 10 strategies for absolute clarity.

1. Create space.
Your mind has to process everything that crosses your field of vision. If your home or work environment is cluttered and messy, the mess and clutter results in brain fog. You can’t work effectively or live thoughtfully in chaos. Clear the clutter and reset to zero at least once a week.

2. Identify what matters.
Write down your passion statements for work and life. What really matters to you? Passion statements aren’t maybes, they are musts.

3. Do one thing at a time.
When you are writing, write. When you are doing the dishes, do the dishes. You don’t need TV, Twitter, Email, and 11 other things going on at the same time. Immerse yourself in the task at hand.

4. Eliminate distractions.
You may be so used to the beeps and dings from your phone and flashing messages on your computer screen that you don’t know how distracting they are. It can take 15 minutes or more to recover from even a small distraction. Turn off notifications and if you can’t resist the pull of your devices, turn them off when you are doing other work. When you realize that most of your distractions are self-imposed, it’s easier to eliminate them.

5. Eat well.
Your brain doesn’t have to rely on caffeine and sugar to function. Prove it by removing the stimulating substances you think you need for one week. Then start adding more natural fuel like greens and fresh fruit.

6. Get quiet.
Set aside a few minutes to get quiet and/or meditate every day. Even just 5 minutes is enough to remove mental chatter and internal distractions.

7. Write to get clear.
Write for a few minutes every morning. If you are experiencing great clarity, write it down. If you can’t get clear, write that down too. Sometimes you can write out the distraction and get down to clarity.

8. Experiment.
You don’t know what you don’t know. If you want clarity about the foods that best fuel you, the habits that improve your life, or the work you want to do, experiment. Learn through experience and experiments.

9. Put your ass where your heart wants to be.
Steven Pressfield says, “That’s the trick and there is nothing more to it. Shut up and get into the studio. Once your physical envelope is standing before the easel, your heart and mind will follow. If you want to write, plant your backside in front of the typewriter. Sooner or later your fingers will settle onto the keys. Not long after that, I promise, the goddess will slip invisibly but powerfully into the room.”

10. Always challenge your never.
What if our nevers are what we want most, but because we don’t want to be hurt, or fail or expose ourselves to disappointment, we keep them in the never file? As soon as you think, “I could never do that” or “I could never go without this” challenge your nevers. They are usually exactly what you need for absolute clarity.

Simplicity comes with amazing benefits and absolute clarity is at the top of the list. With clarity you know what your body needs, and what your heart wants, and how to deliver.

Want clarity? Remove the excess, the distractions, and every other unimportant, unnecessary thing. Get light. Get clear on what matters by getting rid of everything that doesn’t.

source: https://bemorewithless.com

Why Productivity Is Always About Focus and Never About Time

Sabir Semerkant is the founder of GROWTH by Sabir and a productivity couch.

Many entrepreneurs struggle with productivity. They don’t work as hard as they can or as much as they should, and no matter how hard they try, they keep falling into the same patterns of procrastination.

They desperately search for answers, ways in which they can become more productive and more efficient, but more often than not, they look in the wrong places. Because, contrary to what you might think, productivity is about focus and not time.

Why Productivity is About Focus and Not Time

Giving yourself more time won’t necessarily make you more productive.

It should be obvious, but it’s a mistake that many people make. They realize that they are not working as much as they should and so they try to eke more hours out of their day, doing everything they can to save an extra hour here and there.

The problem is, they usually spend that extra hour lazily browsing on Facebook or staring at an empty Word document.

If you’re struggling to be productive, it means you’re struggling to focus. All of the time in the world won’t fix that but changing your environment and your approach to work might.

Some of the ways that you can quickly improve your focus include:

  • Start Working: Believe it or not, the best way to cure writer’s block is to start writing. It doesn’t matter what you write. If it’s terrible, you can delete it. What matters is that you actually start writing, as that will trigger the creative process. The same is true for most other types of work. Just make a start and your natural instincts will take over.
  • Breathe Deeply: Trying to move from mindless Facebook browsing to productive work can be difficult as your mind is unfocused and chaotic. Instead, just sit in silence, breathe deeply, and try to clear your head before you begin.
  • Take a Shower/Bath: There’s a reason you seem to have your best ideas in the shower or bath. It’s the silence, the lack of distractions, and the fact that you have some time to relax and think. If you’re struggling to get started, take a shower, clear your head, and move straight onto your work.

Being Productive When You Are Self-Employed

I’ve been self-employed for many years. I work with writers, designers, developers, marketers, and entrepreneurs who are also self-employed. Every single one of us struggles to be as productive as we would like, but such issues are rare as we’ve learned to adapt. We’ve found ways to work even through the distractions of home life.

But the same can’t be said for people who are only just acclimatizing to remote working.

It’s one of those things that everyone wants to do. The idea of working from home and setting your own hours is the dream for many Americans.

There is no commute. No noisy workplace. You can work when you want and where you want, and you have tea/coffee, and snacks within reach at all times.

But as many people discovered during the pandemic, when millions more Americans were forced to work from home, it’s not quite as easy as it seems.

When the constant pressure of employers, co-workers, and deadlines are replaced with the distractions of pets, friends, family, and Netflix, it’s hard to stay focused.

You will adapt after a while. But there are a few ways that you can hasten that process and become more productive much earlier.

One of the most important lessons that all self-employed individuals learn is that everyone is different.

It’s a cliché, I know, but it’s also something that many people forget when it comes to working from home.

Every single guide to remote working includes a section that advises you against all distractions. They’ll tell you to find a quiet workspace — preferably a room that no one else uses — and to make sure that there is no TV in that room.

But can you really work for 10 hours straight without anything to stimulate you? There are no conversations with colleagues to break the monotony. No music or phone calls. It’s just you, a computer, and complete silence.

It’s enough to send you insane.

The most productive freelancers I know all work while watching TV. Sure, it’s more of a background thing, and they’re not always paying attention, but the more experienced they get, the easier it becomes to enjoy films and TV shows while still producing great work.

Some prefer to listen to music. Others prefer to watch YouTube videos.

A writer friend of mine watches horror films and series for most of the day and has a subscription to pretty much every streaming service available. He works 7 days a week and 10 to 15 hours a day, and those films and shows are the reason he’s so productive and the reason he loves his job despite working 100+ hours a week.

The point is that there is no magic solution, and the articles that provide specific tips on procrastination and productivity might not work for you.

The most important thing is that you stay focused on the work at hand. If you have 10+ hours ahead of you, silence likely won’t encourage you to remain focused, but music or TV might.

Summary: Focus = Productivity

source: https://medium.com