How to Focus

Following on from wanting to be more present in everything I do, I thought it’d be useful to think about focus. This is in line with Manageable Mondays over at @whatwouldqueeniedo – where all you need to do is get through the day.

I used to think that if I didn’t achieve anything on a Monday, the week would be wasted. What I realised was: I was achieving lots of different bits, but couldn’t finish or follow through (whoops).

So, how to focus?

I’ve tried out some techniques to help me finish whatever task I’m trying to complete. Here’s what I do:

  • Get to the root of what distracts me most: Most of the time it’s Instagram. When I’m bored I pick my phone up and… off I scroll. Before I know it, it’s a full hour gone and I’ve got a powerful right thumb.
  • Remove that distraction: I put my phone in another room or behind me where I can’t see it! Out of sight, out of mind (just like the f*ck bois)
  • Turn off pop-up notifications: Especially for emails! Whenever I get an email I’m like ooh gotta read it now (yep I’m one of those people that have no unread emails). Without it popping up on my screen means I can keep my focus and only go seek that distraction when I need to check it
  • Unsubscribe from notifications: And when I check my inbox, I want it to only be full of things that I care about! How many emails do each of us receive in a day that we can delete without even reading? If I find myself constantly deleting emails from the same source, it’s time to unsubscribe!
  • Be honest with yourself: How long can you focus for, and how long will each task take? If you can only focus for 25 minutes, then make those 25 minutes count and stop forcing yourself to sit still for 3 hours. Also, if you know how long something will take you, you’ll be able to plan how much you can do, and therefore feel motivated to keep going because you know you can do it!
  • Find some apps to help you: I use Flora (iOS only) if I need a short focussed burst. This is based on the 🍅 Pomodoro / Timato Timer technique 

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Now, make the habit stick

These tips are only useful if you’re able to use them constantly, otherwise… what’s the point?

  • Know that the hardest bit is starting: Once you start on something, chances are you’ll keep going. So don’t think too far ahead, just think about getting started. You know what you need to do once you get going!
  • Keep it fun for yourself and make it a game (similar to how my mum is addicted to Candy Crush and can do it for hours on end): If you set an hour long limit on the apps you spend too much time on, how many days can you go without hitting the limit? Start your own leaderboard!
  • Practice, practice: If you don’t practice focussing on what you’re doing constantly, it won’t happen when you need to summon it suddenly

Did you manage to read this through without distraction? In my previous post, I talk about listing things we want to do differently when lockdown ends: improving our focus could go on that list!

In the words of pop queen Charli XCX, I just want you to focus.

– Q 🤓