Focus & ConsistencyNov 06, 2023
Season Two, Issue: 09 | Read Time: 5 min.
Transform Your Productivity with My Go-To Strategies.
Ever felt like your day was just a blur of tasks, with your focus being pulled in a hundred different directions? Yeah, me too. But here's a secret: with a sprinkle of strategy and a dash of discipline, we can turn that around.
Let's get you from busy to productive in just a few minutes!
1. Focus, The Unseen Superpower:
Focus is directing your attention and energy towards a specific task or goal. It is a foundational skill for optimal productivity as it enables you to immerse yourself fully in your work, leading to higher-quality outcomes and a sense of flow. Think of focus as your mind's magic wand. Wield it right, and you can conjure up wonders! Let's start small: set a timer for 25-minute bursts of pure focus on one task. It's a game-changer!
I use an app called Brain FM. This is a paid app $50 for the year ($6.99 per month); however, Martin and I benefit from using it with Apple family sharing. If you click my link, you can get a month's trial for $1. (not an add).
2. Taming the Tech:
Recognise the factors that hinder your focus and concentration. Common challenges include external distractions (such as noise or interruptions), internal distractions (such as wandering thoughts), and technological distractions (such as notifications or social media). Understanding these blocks helps you develop strategies to overcome them. Our gadgets are like that friend who's fun but a bit distracting. So, mute the notifications and watch as your productivity spells start to work.
I have my tech on quiet mode as a default.
3. The Time Block Technique:
Picture your day as a collection of boxes, each with a task that deserves your full attention. It's like Tetris, but instead of clearing lines, you're clearing goals! Implement the time-blocking technique to dedicate specific blocks of time for focused work on specific tasks or projects. Set aside uninterrupted periods during which you solely concentrate on the assigned activity. This technique helps establish a clear structure and fosters deep work.
I plan buffer blocks, light work and deep work every day.
- Buffer blocks: an hour in the morning to review my schedule and refocus on my vision, goals and tactics for the day. This alone has been a game-changer.15-30 minutes between blocks, switching to stretch my legs, check messages, powder my nose and make a coffee, or even just 5 minutes standing in the garden helps me decompress and reset my focus for the next block.
- Light work: Emails, social media, WhatsApp, booking travel, popping into Female Fusion (my go-to community) - this is the time for small tasks.
- Deep work: writing, strategising and designing. These are usually 3-hour blocks broken up with a 5-minute leg stretch/coffee run every hour.
Although I can get so transfixed in my work, time flashes by before I know it, 3 hours are up! I’m not saying I stick to this religiously, but it’s a structure that works for me, and it’s about you finding one that works for you.
4. Cultivating Calm:
Create an environment for focus by minimising external distractions. Find a quiet and organised workspace, communicate your need for uninterrupted time to colleagues or family members, and consider using noise-cancelling headphones or background noise apps to create a focused atmosphere. Create a space of tranquillity where you work. It could be a plant, a photo, or a scented candle – anything that tells your brain, "It's go-time."
5. Mind Over Chatter:
Train your mind to manage internal distractions by practising mindfulness and awareness. Notice when your thoughts wander and gently guide your attention back to the task at hand. Techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises can enhance your ability to maintain focus and concentration. When your thoughts are doing the samba across your brain, take a deep breath. Jot them down and promise to dance with them later.
I keep my agenda on a page to capture those wandering thoughts I want to download and return to. It's included in the free download below.
6. Digital Detox Dare:
Reduce technological distractions by implementing a digital detox. Temporarily disconnect from social media, email notifications, and other non-essential apps during dedicated work periods. Utilise productivity apps or website blockers to restrict access to distracting websites or applications. I dare you to disconnect for an hour a day. No emails, no socials, just you and your brilliant mind. It's not as scary as it sounds – pinky promise.
I have my iPhone and MacBook focus set to do not disturb between 10:00 - 16:00.
7. Deep Work, Deep Impact:
Deep work refers to periods of uninterrupted, concentrated work on cognitively demanding tasks. Allocate dedicated blocks of time for deep work, during which you eliminate all distractions and engage in focused, high-quality work. This practice allows for significant progress and breakthroughs in complex projects. Give yourself the gift of uninterrupted creation time. This is where your best ideas will bloom.
Also included in the free download is a copy of my "plan the week", where I schedule my light & deep work into blocks.
8. Embrace the Power of Pause:
A proper break can recharge your brain batteries. So, step away, have a cuppa, and come back refreshed. Recognise the importance of taking regular breaks to recharge and maintain focus. Short breaks, such as walking or stretching, help rejuvenate your mind and prevent mental fatigue. Use techniques like the Pomodoro Technique (working in focused intervals with short breaks) to maintain productivity and avoid burnout.
Since lockdown, Martin and I have an unspoken rule that we have a coffee break at 10 am, lunch at noon and a cup of tea at 3 pm. This gives each other uninterrupted time. At 5 pm, our feline furbabies Sprout and Stevie get very vocal in letting us know it’s nearly dinner time.
9. Your Space, Your Rules:
Arrange your workspace to support focus and concentration. Ensure it is organised, clean, and free from clutter. Personalise it with items that inspire and motivate you. A well-designed and comfortable environment can enhance your ability to concentrate and stay engaged.
I use my morning buffer to set my desk for success. I love to have my resources for the day close at hand.
10. Building Focus as a Habit:
Craft a routine that embeds focus into your DNA. Start small, be consistent, and watch the magic unfold.
Consistency is vital in building focus and consistency as a habit. Practice these techniques regularly to train your mind to stay focused for extended periods. Over time, you will develop the ability to effortlessly enter a state of deep work and achieve heightened productivity levels.
I highly recommend listening to or reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. I regularly listen to the audiobook when I’m doing light work.
💭 Final Thoughts 💭
My trusty planner is my sidekick in this adventure, keeping all my brilliant ideas in one place and a page for catching wandering thoughts that try to break my deep work. I created it in Canva, and it's available to download for free below. I schedule Friday afternoons for my tying up loose ends and to plan the following week. This is the only way I can stop the busyness of doing everything and anything without any importance to my vision or goal.
I'm here to cheer you on every step of the way. Together, let's craft a journey of growth, strategy, and smashing those goals.
Remember, it's not just about working hard; it's about working smart.