A new day means a new to-do list. If you want to accomplish as many tasks as possible, as well as possible, make sure you do one thing: streamline your focus.
When we take a break from a task to check our phone, start another task, or let our mind wander toward personal or financial worries, our brains will struggle to achieve a deep, productive focus. This is because the «quick checks» that we make on our phones and inboxes can keep us in a «state of persistent attention residue,» a condition recognized by Georgetown University professor Cal Newport in his book Work Deep: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. When we switch our attention between tasks, even briefly, we slow down our brain’s ability to complete the main task at hand.
Consider these four ways to clear mental cobwebs and achieve your optimum level of focus on any task:
Practice Deep Work: If the task at hand requires complex problem-solving or synthesizing ideas, give it your full focus. Put aside cell phones and anything that can interrupt you with a notification. Give your task complete mental attention. You may feel compelled to check your phone every few minutes: fight the urge! The more focused you are, the faster you will find solutions and avoid mistakes.
Embrace Boredom: When you find yourself feeling bored or have nothing to do, your first instinct may be to pull out your phone or hop on your computer. Consider, instead, using this time to breathe deeply and think about tasks that could take your focus in a more meaningful direction. For example, if you feel bored, consider reading the book you’ve been meaning to sit down with or to learn something new from a podcast. If we can get into the habit of controlling our responses to boredom, instead of jumping to a quick, entertaining option, we will improve our ability to work and focus overall.
Reduce Social Media Use: While social media can be both entertaining and informative, try to only check your accounts in controlled intervals. If we check social media frequently, we can be reducing our productivity. Keep social media use to a healthy minimum in order to decrease interruptions to your focus.
Decrease Shallow Work: If you want to be a pro at deep work, try not to let yourself become inundated with shallow work. Shallow work is often menial work, like photocopying and scanning documents. Task that can be done thoughtlessly can be detrimental to our focus as well, so if you need to apply your mind to deep tasks, keep your menial tasks to a minimum.
Our ability to achieve deep focus will not only improve our professional productivity, it will also improve our ability to accomplish our long-term goals, help us keep our big picture perspective, and reduce our stress overall so that we can feel happy about where we are going, and get there as productively as possible!
Looking for ways to improve your focus and professional skills? Visit the Syncis blog at www.syncis.com/blog.