In the digital world, distractions are everywhere around us. From checking social media accounts and emails to taking phone calls on-the-go, it can be difficult to focus on just one task. However, your important projects deserve your undivided attention if you hope to maximize your success.
To help you, 13 members of Young Entrepreneur Council shared their own methods for achieving uninterrupted focus on important tasks. Follow their advice to buckle down on your most critical projects.
1. Intentionally Create a Distraction-Free Environment
The environment where you work matters. You can try as hard as you like but you won’t be able to work if there’s a television nearby. It’s helpful to create a space with a desk and your computer, a cup of tea and nothing else. You can turn off your phone, but it’s even better to keep it in another room. You should also work in the same place. This will associate focus with the place you work.
2. Turn Off Your Phone
The ability to freely communicate with our smartphones is both helpful and harmful for business owners. One of the drawbacks is it can become tempting to check your phone the second you hear a notification go off. The result is you spend much more time working on a project than you anticipated. I’ve found that turning my phone off helps me focus and keeps my mind on the task at hand.
3. Set a Timer
Setting a timer for 20 minutes and working until it goes off is a simple but effective technique anyone can follow. You feel less anxious because you know that you only have to focus for a short time. The timer going off can actually be a “reward” that acknowledges that you’ve worked with focus. You can take a break for five minutes and start again. It’s possible to get a lot done this way.
4. Use a Project Management Software and Hold Daily Team Meetings
Asana helps in updating everyone about the project, and at some point makes everyone know where the task is at right now and who’s responsible at this time. Daily meetings will emphasize the need of the person responsible to work on it and others to help out if needed. With Asana and meetings, all notes/problems and hurdles can easily be discussed for a smooth-sailing process.
5. Create a ‘Busy’ Code
We use a code on our Slack channel that lets other people on our teams know that we are busy and will get in touch with them after finishing the task at hand. I think this method works well because it gives us the time we need when working on a new project, and it also improves communication throughout our team.
6. Block Out Your Schedule
I find that when you don’t have a schedule, it’s harder to stay on track. So, I make a schedule for my day by breaking it into chunks. For instance, I’ll schedule one hour of uninterrupted work, a 15-minute break, and then two hours of work and so on. Knowing when I have my breaks helps me stay away from distractions during the time I’m supposed to be working.
7. Play Simple, Repetitive Music
If I need to focus for a long period of time on one task, I’ll put on my noise-canceling headphones and listen to an extended playlist of ambient or instrumental music. The trick is to find music that’s not so boring that it makes your mind wander, but also not so complex that it can be distracting. I’ve found a lot of success listening to songs from artists like Brian Eno and Amon Tobin.
8. Leave the House
On days I can’t focus, I choose to leave my home office and go to the local coffee shop. When you see others around you working hard, it encourages and motivates you to do the same. Sometimes being at home is what keeps me from staying motivated, so I need to push myself to change my environment to get anything done.
9. Share Your Calendar With Your Team
Google Calendars is my savior when it comes to making sure my schedule is uninterrupted. As the owner of the business, I schedule meetings or block out times on a Google calendar that my whole team shares. This communicates to my team that I am busy so they don’t either book me for other meetings or disturb me during those blocks of time, allowing me to focus on certain tasks at hand.
10. Plan Ahead for Being Unavailable
If you have a task that requires your uninterrupted attention, schedule it in advance. Let everybody around you know that you are going to be unavailable during this period, solve all the pressing issues earlier so that you can carve out these few hours for this task. And turn off your smartphone. Unplugging for a few hours won’t make any difference unless you’re a medical doctor or firefighter.
11. Capitalize on Your Peak Productivity Times
I think knowing my own brain and the times it works best has really helped me. For example, my brain wants to work on hard, complex problems in the wee hours of the morning. I used to fight it but now I just go to bed early and wake up at 4 a.m. when I can focus and my brain is most alive.
12. Follow a Healthy Lifestyle and Mindset
I’ve found that I can focus better when I take care of my body and stay healthy. I’m way more productive when I get a good night’s sleep and eat scheduled meals. If I try to skip lunch and work through the afternoon, I get sluggish and find my focus drifting to food instead of work. Another big focus hack is morning exercise. Try to keep your body healthy and your mind will focus better.
13. Meditate and Refocus
It’s almost impossible not to get distracted by the everyday hustle and bustle in most workplaces. But whenever I need to really focus on something, no matter how simple or complex the task, I find taking a moment for mindful meditation and accepting everything around you, can work wonders. It makes it easier to embrace and appreciate your surroundings while remaining focused on the job at hand.
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.