How to Stay Focused and Productive (Five Simple Strategies)

Stay Focused and Productive
Image: Deagreez@iStock

There is so much to do. You are continually struggling with how to stay focused and productive.

Day-in and day-out your are pulled in a dozen different directions.

You want to stay focused and productive, but it is getting harder and harder.

Your job is great, your family is doing well, but you worry about losing control of everything.

It’s more and more of a challenge to stay on task and to keep your priorities straight.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Unfortunately, the problems feed themselves and can rapidly spiral out of control.

Focus becomes an uphill battle causing you to flit from task to task rarely finishing anything.

The inability to focus not only hampers productivity, it also zaps motivation.

It is one of the primary causes of increased stress and anxiety. 

Without the ability to focus, personal happiness and professional success begin to feel like a distant dream.

Below are five strategies that can help:

1. Shut Out the World to Stay Focused and Productive!

This is more challenging in an office where you are surrounded by co-workers. One way to handle the ambient noise is to invest in quality headphones. They also discourage co-workers from needlessly interrupting you.

If you work at home, set up a quiet workspace – preferably in a room with a door. Use a “do-not-disturb” sign and post office hours, if necessary; turn off the TV, your phone and iPod; put the dog out; put your head down – and FOCUS!

2. Create a Road Map for Each Day

Before you close-up shop for the day, plan for tomorrow. Set priorities and have an outline of what you want to accomplish.

Break your projects into small chunks. It makes them more manageable.

The daily planning doesn’t have to be complicated – a notebook or a pen and paper will do nicely. These are good choices because you can keep the schedule visible on your desk for easy reference and cross off each “to-do” item as you complete it.

It’s nice to see progress. It give a sense of accomplishment and encourages focus and productivity.

If you prefer technology, use Google Calendar. It’s easy to use, it’s free, and it sends reminders –  Just don’t let it be a distraction.

3. Stop Kidding Yourself – You Cannot Multi-task!

Contrary to popular belief, the human brain cannot multi-task!

Jumping around, checking email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. when you are working on a project is not multi-tasking. Those activities are distractions, often used to justify putting off the work that needs to be done.

Procrastination can be deadly to prooductivity. If you continue to flit from one system to another, you will have trouble completing anything.

When you are working on a project, stay with it until it’s finished. Do not “take a minute” to check email, or anything else.

A good policy is to keep email and all social media off limits during working hours. Set aside time before or after work for those activities.

When working on a project that is arduous and time-consuming, set a timer for periodic breaks to stand up, stretch, and get a drink of water.

This will refresh your mind and body. It gives you a few minutes to recharge before refocusing on the task.

DO NOT use the break time to do other things on the computer.

4. Listen to Your Body

Tune into your body. Follow its signals.

Are you a morning person, or do you function better in the afternoon or evening?

Plan your day accordingly. Schedule difficult and high-priority tasks when you are at your best.

Leave minor, less-important tasks to be completed during hours when your energy drops and your brain is tired.

If you work in an office, you probably have a set schedule, but you know the time of day when you are typically at your best (and worst). So, use the “best hours” for priority projects.

If you work at home, plan your day based on your personal energy patterns. You may feel wide-awake and ready to go from 6 to 10 am. Or, maybe you are more of a night owl and 7 to 10 pm are your prime hours).

Choose a schedule that works for your mind and body.  Once it is set, work the same hours every day

Choosing a “flexible schedule” is not a good idea.  Working now and then or whenever the spirit strikes does not engender staying focused and productive.

Don’t forget to schedule a full day off each week. Everyone needs a “day of rest” in order to sustain high levels of productivity.

5. Kick Life Challenges in the Butt

When you face difficult life situations that make it impossible to concentrate and be productive, take the time you need. Do the best you can to get through the worst of it – literally one day at a time.

Then, “pick yourself up , dust yourself off, and start all over again” as quickly as possible.

Life can be challenging, overwhelming, and stressful.

Sometimes you may wonder if you will ever be able to focus and be fully productive again, but I promise you will!

Today Is the Day

Start implementing the five strategies – one at a time. Stay with it until it begins to feel natural.

Then, add another. It won’t be long until all five are part of your routine.

It will be much easier to stay focused and productive throughout the day and have energy left over in the evening.

Getting through the day will no longer be a struggle, stress levels will go down, and you will begin to feel more in control of your life.

The new habits will boost productivity to the max and life will be good.

I know you can do it! 

Related Article: Focus Is Critical to Success

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