Wouldn’t be nice to know that you are giving your best to doing what matters most each day? Are you looking for simple tips on how to do the most important things in your life first, instead of wearing yourself out with a bunch of “busy work”?
Well, this article is for you. Here are my 7 top tips for “How to Stay Focused:”
1. Make a prioritized list of things to do. Some people like doing this in the evening, in preparation for the next day. Others like doing it in the morning. Do what works for you.
List all of the things on your mind to do for the given day. Indicate the ones that are most important to you, those that are important but can wait, and those that are not important and can be deleted, delayed, or delegated to someone else.
Now, your job is to focus on the first (i.e., most important) and then second category (i.e., important but can wait), while deleting and delegating as much of the third category (not important) as possible.
2. Make a daily schedule. Give quality time to your “most important” items and try to do as many of the “important but can wait” items as you can. This will leave the “unimportant” items having the least amount of time.
Whatever time you give to the “unimportant” should be used for deleting, delegating, or delaying, if you feel that you have to delay it.
As you go through your day, place a check mark next to each item or a line through them. This will give you both a sense of accomplishment and help you see items that are undone. The undone items of today will influence what you focus on tomorrow.
It is not strange for you to have to work on some assignments on multiple days. In which case, having a daily milestone or sub-goal can be helpful.
For example, you may have only 15 minutes set aside to clean your house. This may not be enough time to clean the entire house, but perhaps it is enough to put everything in the right room, and start cleaning your bed room or front room.
Be mindful of your energy level patterns, so you can schedule things that require high energy doing your high energy times and schedule low energy tasks doing your low energy time.
For example, studying a lesson or writing a report would be a high energy assignment. Checking emails or sorting through the mail may be a low energy task.
3. Manage distractions. Every time someone or something tries to interfere with what you have planned for today, ask, “Which is more important – the distraction or my schedule”? If a loved one is having a real medical emergency, you will probably have to change your schedule. However, if someone simply wants to chat about their favorite TV show, your schedule is probably the greater priority.
Develop the ability to lovingly but assertively enforce your schedule with people. Ideas in this area may include closing your door to signal “Please Don’t Disturb,” empowering staff and family members to handle their own issues, standing up when unscheduled people enter your work area to signal “please don’t get comfortable,” ...
... muting social media notifications and cell phones, giving quality time to keeping your work and living areas organized, working in quiet low distraction areas; compartmentalize work, family, church, etc. so one doesn’t bleed into the other; and minimizing multitasking.
4. Take breaks. Often taking two or three short breaks in an hour is better than pushing through for an entire hour, especially if the material is very draining to you. A short break can be something is simple as stand up, do some quick stretches for your back and legs, and refresh your water bottle.
Short breaks are too short for watching a TV show, taking a nap, and going for a job – smile. If you are working on a computer, it can be helpful to stare at a distant object (i.e., about 20 feet away) for about 20 seconds to give your eyes a break.
Google “Pomodoro technique,” if you are not familiar with the work 25 minutes, break 5 minutes technique.
5. Train your mind like a muscle. Work on building your ability to focus for 5-10 minutes on the task at hand. Take a quick break. Add 5 or 10 minutes to your previous time. Take a quick break. Keep adding a little here and there just like building your ability to lift weights or walk long distances.
As with muscle building, it is important to stress and recover. All stress leads to burn out. All recover leads to very limited attention span, willpower, or mental endurance.
6. Exercise and diet. A cardio, strength training, and flexibility routine will do wonders for both your body and emotional state. Exercise triggers the release of hormones that help you feel good. High protein, high vegetable and fruit intake, limited amount of simple carbs, and plenty of water can give you the energy you need to stay focus.
Some like a small amount of caffeine to give themselves a boost. I find myself avoiding caffeine, so I don’t have to deal with the jitters and caffeine crash that often comes after the boost.
7. Sleep and mindfulness. Your body needs sleep. Experts suggests around seven to eight hours for most adults. Some may need nine hours, but 10 hours is too much and can lead to other problems. Sleep helps us to recharge for another focused day.
As for mediation, some swear by building up to 20 minutes a day and at least four days a week of mindful meditation. In a spirit of disclosure, I have not given a great deal of time to meditation.
I find praying, reflecting on scriptures, reviewing my goals, and things of this nature more helpful to me. However, do what works for you.
So, there are my top 7 tips for how to stay focused. I pray that you have not only read the article, but I pray that you use the material to help you focus on being who God is calling you to be. You may not implement all of them at one time. Start with those that are easier for you and work towards those that are more challenging.
Stay Off of the devil's Menu Does it seem like every time you try to be still to read the Bible and pray that something comes up to distract you? The problem may very well be the devil.
Set Your Mind on Things Above Here is a quick devotional about what God is calling us to set our minds on.
First Things, First Here is a quick devotional on seeking God's kingdom first.
Looking Straight Ahead Here is a quick devotional about gazing on the right things.
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