Everybody has trouble staying focused, but some find that distraction is a constant that gets in the way of productivity.
“It’s about figuring out how to work with your strengths and downplay your weaknesses,” says Abigail Levrini, psychologist and author of Succeeding with Adult ADHD (APA, 2012).
These four techniques will help you stay on task and focus your attention.
1. Identify your learning style: Figure out how you learn best, then organize your workplace to play up your strengths. “If you can identify your learning style, then you can start to build systems around it
2. Visually map your time and tasks: Map your day by the hour and review it throughout the day to help you organize your time. That visual cue will help you pace your day and budget your time appropriately.
Use free hours effectively by ranking your task list visually as well. Try color coding your list according to priority, with four or five levels of urgency. Do the essential, time-sensitive tasks early in the week while you’re fresh, then save the optional ones for later.
3. Fidget to help you focus: When you need to pay attention during a call or meeting, bring a small object that you can play with, such as putty. It should be something you can manipulate mindlessly while you listen. “That actually frees up your mental energy so you can focus a little better,” Levrini says.
In general, releasing excess energy throughout the day will help you stay on task. To improve your focus, climb the stairs between tasks, pace while you talk on the phone, or simply change your environment throughout the day.
4. Break up the tedious tasks: Boring tasks cause excessive distraction and procrastination. Forcing yourself to endure them will only exacerbate the problem. Instead, work in fifteen-minute bursts. Set a timer and try to do as much as you can before it goes off. Make a game of it.When time is up, do something active, such as walking up the stairs or doing jumping jacks, then work for another fifteen minutes.