After taking a break from writing and other things that I did regularly, I had hard time getting back to them.
Focus was one things I was having problems with and I wanted to share what I found the most useful in getting it back:
1. Clock your time focused and try to beat your record
Challenges can be fun, so why not make it into one?
2. Use background noise
“a moderate level of noise enhances creativity relative to both high and low levels of noise.” (source)
You can use some appropriate music for this or some ambient noise generator.
3. Use video game soundtracks
This is a great tip from reddit, where you can find some valuable comments related to it.
The opening poster makes a great point that video game soundtracks are designed to create stimulating background sound that doesn’t mess with you concentration.
I find Bastions OST especially good.
4. Create a relaxed atmosphere for yourself
This can be done both in your imagination and by rearranging your working space.
The way I use imagination is that I imagine myself in the most relaxing and mind-soothing atmosphere I can think myself in.
It involves a warm cup of tea or coffee, rain hitting against my window, dim lightning, maybe relaxing music on the background and just a feeling of not having any worries.
I find it working pretty darn well.
5. Be aware that focus in itself is a skill you can choose to cultivate
There are lots of ways to train it as a skill, but the best one is probably meditation, which is the art of having (and training) 100% focus when practiced.
6. Don’t beat yourself up for it if you can’t concentrate
What’s the good in that? What’s done is done and it only takes space up from your consciousness when blame yourself for anything.
Instead of that, focus on the process, not the outcome. Your desired outcome is to be focused for x period of time, but the process is what makes that happen.
7. Try committing yourself to it for a period of time
It may feel like crap, but sometimes a small amount of “forcing it” can be good in the long-term. Especially when it comes to conditioning yourself to being able to concentrate more.
You can choose the period of time yourself: commit yourself working somewhere between 15 and 60 minutes and then take a small 5-15 minute break.
The important part is the “commitment” to this – once you screw that up and go after distractions when you are supposed to concentrate, it will never be the same.
Also see pomodoro technique
8. Take responsibility for your focus
If you think that all the distracting things are “doing this to you”, you are giving responsibility away.
This kind of mindset will prevent you from ever becoming focused as long as you maintain it. Stop blaming outside conditions.
9 . Get off the computer for a while
PC is the ultimate machine for distractions. Unfortunately, it’s also how I’m supposed to get things done too.
Get off the computer for a moment of refocus, think about your priorities and come back when you are ready to put your concentration on the task.
10. Become aware of the need to be distracted
It’s the sudden “need” that you often feel while you are trying to focus. Catch this feeling and watch it for a while.
Resist the urge to follow that feeling: instead of going after it, take a break.
You should be aware how fatal it is to follow that urge: it means that you are conditioning yourself to this mindset “it’s ok to follow the urge instead of being focused”, which will screw you over time.
11. Take a moment to calm down and relax
Lack of focus means that you are getting thoughts that are pulling your attention away from what you are supposed to be focused on.
First, calm down, empty your mind, relax your whole body and then act from this state of calmness.
12. Create a reward system for yourself
I’m kind of reluctant sharing this tip since I myself am in the process of trying it out.
I was thinking about how I can calculate my productive time into some kind of reward, but I’m still open on what kind of treat I could use.
- Nice infograph about focus / and another one
- 8 Things Everybody Ought to Know About Concentrating
- 5 Tips to Maximize Your Ability to Concentrate
- 11 Steps to Insane Focus: Do More of What Matters