We live in an age where distractions are everywhere. Any time you’re in public, simply look around and you’ll see that everybody is rushing somewhere or doing something, and a good handful of people will be looking down at their smartphone screens.
In our society, it’s easy to find yourself with an overwhelmingly long to-do list, and an unfortunately short attention span. Technology has trained us to lose focus. Our attention spans are no doubt getting shorter, as we find ourselves needing constant stimulation; usually in the form of a cell phone. But when the time comes that you really do need to be productive and get stuff done, it’s important to find a way to stay focused.
In this article, we give you five easy ways to lengthen your attention span and ensure you power through your to-do list.
1. Organize your workspace
Without motivation to do the task at hand, you won’t be able to focus at all. A lot of people find that motivation comes easier in a tidier setting. If your desk looks like a bomb has hit it, a portion of your brain will constantly be thinking about all the clutter; getting “stressed about the mess” is not ideal when you’re trying to focus on something else entirely.
| “Neaten up your workspace (as well as the office/room it’s in), and ensure it is a stress-free zone without any “cluttered chaos” to distract you.”
Try making it as minimalistic as possible, with little clutter and with everything in its own place. Invest in a desk organizer and a few pen pots to make sure everything has someplace to go.
If this isn’t enough, you can add photographs or post-it notes that motivate or inspire you. When you find your eyes wandering away from your work, they’ll get snagged on a motivational quote that will set you right back to work! Sounds cheesy, but trust us – it helps.
2. Try a ‘focus’ app
This may sound a bit counterintuitive to use your phone to stop you from being distracted (by your phone), but it is actually a great way to make sure you stay focused on your work instead of browsing social media. There are plenty of apps available to keep you on task, both those for your smartphone and for your laptop or desktop computer.
For example, Forest is an excellent mobile app that makes sure you stay away from your phone for a certain period of time. Plus, after spending a certain amount of time using the app, the company behind it plants a real tree – you’re staying focused and saving the environment.
| “For your computer, apps like Focus prevent you from accessing certain websites (like Twitter) so you don’t “accidentally on purpose” open up another tab.”
If you’re the sort of person who is always distracted by their phone, this type of app is ideal.
Much of the problem with focusing is feeling overwhelmed by the amount of tasks you have to do. If this is the case, you have to learn to prioritize all your tasks so that you can get the most important things out of the way first.
A good tip is to find the top three most important things to do each day. Write these down in the morning, and tackle them one by one. Also, don’t multitask unless it’s absolutely necessary in order to complete the work – this will cause you to lose focus. rather, break the tasks down into manageable chunks, and do each one at a good pace. Before you know it, you will have raced through all your work.
| “Another thing to note here is that you should avoid multitasking. There is simply no need to focus on multiple things at once when you can take it step-by-step.”
Simply put, trying to juggle everything results in a burnt-out mind that makes you way less productive. Plus, having your mind on multiple things usually takes you away from (what should be) your primary focus.
4. Take regular breaks
Extremely useful but often overlooked, taking regular breaks is vital to a productive focus. As far as studying goes, it can be helpful to use strategies like the Pomodoro technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo. This works by setting a timer for 25 minutes, and working solidly on a task for that time. When time is up, note down that you completed a full 25-minute session. Then, take a short break while you grab a cup of coffee or do anything non-work related to relax your mind. Go back to another 25-minute session when you’re done; after four 25 minute sessions of work, take a longer break for around 30 minutes.
By breaking down into these chunks, you’ll find that you can keep your brain focused for much longer.
| “Staring at the same work for hours will leave you feeling tired, unmotivated, and unproductive – and thus, MUCH more prone to procrastination.”
You’d be surprised what a couple of minutes rest can do!
5. Try CBD
If you haven’t heard about CBD, you must have been hiding under a rock under the last couple of years! CBD, scientifically known as cannabidiol, is one of the principal cannabinoids (active compounds) that can be found in cannabis. Many people are taking it to help improve their health and lifestyle, and it is usually taken in the form of a sublingual CBD oil that you place under the tongue.
Really, we saved the best until last on this list, because CBD is a powerful option when it comes to improving your focus. Numerous studies have been conducted on this compound which suggests it could both relieve pain by reducing inflammation, and reduce stress and improve mood. Of course, these are both things that could take away your focus, meaning that CBD can help to put your mind back on track by allowing you to concentrate on what’s in front of you instead of the pain in your leg.
| “Furthermore, CBD has been researched as a potential avenue of treatment for ADD/ADHD. This condition causes a severe loss of concentration and focus that is common in children and adolescents.”
A 2012 study by Gururajan et al., in fact, found that cannabidiol has the ability to reduce hyperactivity, meaning that it is able to improve focus.
If none of the other methods on this list are helping you, it might be time to give CBD a shot. After all, it seems like it could really be effective for improving your focus, and many users report a good experience from CBD usage for improving concentration and focus.