Focus. In addition to more time, unlimited funds in the bank, and the energy to do it, all focus is probably high on your gotta have it list. Ok, so maybe not yours but definitely mine. Since I discovered I had adult ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder), I’ve worked hard to overcome specific cognitive challenges. Primarily with communication, time management, responsibility, concentration, focus, and productivity. I’ve come a long way from the girl that couldn’t finish a task or follow through on a project. And, I owe a lot of my improvement to working with amazing therapists that taught me the importance of structure for managing my ADHD. Hence, why I’m so anal and obsessed with organization, routine, habit-building, and goal setting. And also why I’m going to share some of my favorite focus and productivity habits.
Focus on Your Environment
Believe it or not, you have to intentionally plan to be focused and productive. This means taking an honest look at your work environment and assessing whether it supports focus and productivity. Hence why if you work from home or telecommute, you’ll definitely want to make sure you’re creating a workflow that helps you get things done. Making small tweaks and changes to your workspace, and how you plan to eliminate distractions can have a significant impact on your productivity.
Dedicated Work Space
Having an area that is dedicated to your work will help your brain switch gears from your personal life to work life. So when creating your workspace, choose a neutral, quiet environment. This could be the dining room, bedroom, or any space you won’t find yourself tempted by distractions. Bonus points if you can dedicate a room or area for a home office.
Nix the Distractions
While many people dream of working at home, there’s a lot of responsibility that comes from it. There are more distractions in your home than what you would encounter at work. That’s why you need to have a solid plan to kickstart your productivity and double down on your focus.
As mentioned before, when setting up your workspace, you’ll want to avoid areas or rooms that encourage you to procrastinate. For instance, it may sound like a good idea to work in your living room while having Netflix playing in the background. Yet in reality, if you’re working in your living room with Netflix playing your focus and productivity will take a hit. You’re not going to be as motivated to pay attention and may make more mistakes, which decreases quality. Instead, opt to listen to music that helps improve your focus and concentration and provides beautiful background noise.
Additionally, situate your workspace away from windows. Trust me when I say that it may seem nice to have your desk in front of a window. But, you’re not going to get much done because you’ll be so busy gazing outside daydreaming. And lastly, put your phone on do not disturb. This way you’re not getting notifications that’ll tempt you to start scrolling. Furthermore, there are apps you can download that block you from accessing social media during work hours. It could be worthwhile to look into them if this is something you struggle with.
Finally, it’s essential that you feel comfortable when you’re seeking to make focus a priority. Hence, why I always try to keep the temperature at a setting where it’s not too cold and not too hot but just right. Additionally, I don’t work in pajamas or sweats. Just because I work from home doesn’t mean I can’t look polished and professional. You never know where the day will take you. Especially if you telecommute for work and have to hop on a video call. So, getting up and dressing in clothes that are comfortable yet casual can help shift your mindset to working and being productive.
Focus on Curating Your Day
Setting aside time to decide in advance what tasks and projects take priority can help you curate your day and create a focused workflow. This can be done weekly or at the end of each day. And, there are a variety of ways you can accomplish this organized approach to predetermine what gets your focus.
Planners are necessary for organizing the various responsibilities of daily life and career. Whether traditional paper format or digital, they aid in organizing events, appointments, meetings, calls, and deadlines. Planners range in price from $10 to $50. And, they can have a basic self-guided format open for your creativity. Or, they can be more guided and structured, focusing on a central theme. The option you choose is going to depend on your goals and personal preference.
Manage Tasks, Manage Time
You can do so much more with your day when you master the art of task batching and time management. Grouping similar jobs together and assigning them to specific days or times will not only improve your focus but make you more efficient. For example, setting aside time blocks in your workday for email, phone, and video meetings can help decrease the shifting between different modes of communication and thinking. The effort and energy it takes to draft an email are somewhat different than the attention required to communicate with someone via a phone call. Having dedicated chunks of time where you get to focus on each activity individually improves your ability to focus. Mainly because you’re concentrating on that specific task for the designated time before switching to something else. This has truly made a difference for my ADHD brain.
Get Friendly with Productivity Tools
It’s easy to forget all that needs to be done for a given project or assignment that you’re working on. That’s why productivity and workflow tools come in handy. Using something that helps you move a project along a specific timeline while organizing essential tasks. Additionally, it keeps documents and other needed tools in one localized area. Not having to switch to a billion different platforms and having the freedom to go to one centralized place and find all that you need makes you more proficient.
One of my favorite productivity tools is Trello. It’s excellent at organizing all my projects and keeping my research in one location so that I don’t waste time trying to find articles and files. Additionally, it allows me to link cloud storage from Google Drive so I can connect documents to cards. I can also create deadlines, checklists, schedule reminders, and so much more.
I know the idea of creating a routine doesn’t sound very fun. It’s not spontaneous or glamourous. But, it’s something that many professionals and entrepreneurs have learned to do to work at a higher level of performance. And, it’s something that you should adapt to your daily workflow. Having a set time that you work can help train you to separate work life from personal life. Furthermore, having set breaks and time for lunch allows you time to refresh and recommit yourself to what needs to be done. Thus, preventing burnout and increasing motivation.
Additionally, having activities that you participate in before and after your workday further helps with establishing a work-life balance. Taking the time to walk outside, read a book listen to a podcast, or enjoy a cup of coffee before work can prepare you for the day ahead. I’ve found that participating in activities that I enjoy helps to stimulate my cognitive function. Activities such as listening to a podcast and enjoying breakfast help me power through the first half of my day and get the most done. It also helps that I prioritize working on tasks that require the most considerable amount of my concentration pre-lunch. Furthermore, transitioning out of your workday by enjoying a hobby, exercising, or socializing helps take your mind off of work and eases you back into home life.
Finding What Works For You
We’re all different and have different needs when it comes to creating an environment that’s primed for maximum focus and productivity. The best way to truly discover what’s going to increase your focus and productivity is trial and error. Take the time to experiment with different routines, setting up your workstation in different locations, and giving various productivity tools a try. This can guide you in determining what will and won’t work. It may take a little time, but you’ll get there in the end.