It’s a funny thing, the mind. When you need it the most, it decides to lose focus, thinks up random thoughts and gets completely distracted. Let’s face it; we’ve all been in that situation where you’re working on a project for school and you need to get it done as soon as possible since the deadline is coming up. You’re working like a madman trying to get it done, when suddenly, a completely unrelated thought pops into your head. A few seconds later, random thoughts from all over the place start attacking your brain and in less than a minute, you’re completely distracted. At this point, most people would just give up and use this as an excuse to procrastinate and do something else until they can focus properly again. Fortunately for you, however, you’re not most people.
You know that trying to refocus “manually” (which involves a lot of sitting around, wasting time and procrastinating) can take anywhere from a minute to a couple of hours. You knew that you’d eventually get distracted in the middle of doing your project so you made sure that you’d be able to refocus as quickly as possible to prevent any time being wasted. You, being as clever as you are, came to this website beforehand to read this and brush up on the tips to focusing your mind. So, without any further ado, let’s get to it:
- Take Deep Breaths – Breathing oxygenates every cell in your body and therefore stimulates the brain. Studies have shown that taking deep breaths can clear the mind and increases one’s attention span. Practice breathing deeply for about 2 – 3 minutes to help clear your mind and see if that helps.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation – That’s just a cool way of saying “stretch your limbs”. Sitting in that chair all day can leave your limbs feeling stiff and can lead to bad posture. Get up and stretch your arms to the side, or stretch them above your head. Stretch your legs as well. Like breathing, stretching your limbs will help your blood flow and send oxygen to your mind.
- Drink Plenty Of Water – This is one is pretty obvious. You need to keep yourself hydrated and feeling refreshed.
- Take Short Breaks – Although this might come as a surprise to most, taking breaks helps you focus more clearly. Tackling a large project is tough by itself, but doing it all in one go is just impossible. Go for a walk, eat something, listen to music or do anything else; take a break from work. Just remember to actually go back to work when your 5 minute break is over. DON’T PROCRASTINATE.
- Break Down Your Project In To Smaller Parts – Similar to point 4, break the project in to smaller doable doses with regular breaks in between. Finish each part and then take a break; don’t take a break halfway through.
- Anticipate Your Body’s Needs – This one is important. You’ll need to eat, drink and use the washroom. Make sure that you go to the washroom before you start the project. Bring a bottle of water to your desk and grab some brain food (like walnuts, peanuts, blueberries etc.)
- Set The Atmosphere – If you’re a morning person, work in the morning. If you’re a night owl, work at night. Work at whatever time you are most productive. Listening to music can help as well you be more productive too. Listening to music will not help everyone however, since every person is unique and has his or her own methods of increasing productivity.
- Get Rid Of Distractions – Turn off your phone or at least put it out of sight. If you leave it on your desk and it suddenly vibrates because you just got a text, you’re obviously going to check it without thinking twice – after all, you’re only human. It’s better to get rid of all distractions so you can focus on the task at hand. You can check that text in one of your breaks. The Internet is a massive distraction as much as it is helpful. You’ll just have to discipline yourself and improve your will power. If you don’t need to use the Internet, turn off your laptop/computer.
Armed with this knowledge, nothing can stop you from completing that project. In fact, you might even finish it early with enough time left to reply to that text. You should also reward yourself for not getting distracted. It can help motivate you, increase self-esteem and also boost mental aptitude. I’m going to stop writing this now; you have to go start that project and I’m starting to lose focus. Time for a break.