Are You Struggling To Stay Focused? Try These 6 Productivity Hacks.
I can only focus when I’m distracted.
At almost 33 years old, I’ve begun to wonder whether I have undiagnosed ADHD. Most people who know me might balk at the idea. I get so much done and have a reputation for great focus. However, the truth is that it takes me way more time to get things done than most people because I can only focus when I’m distracted.
I know that sounds crazy, so let me explain:
- In high school, I hated math and could only learn anything if I spent the entire class time writing poetry instead.
- During college classes, I played The Sims and tweeted, but I also typed every word my lecturers spoke. People would tap me on the shoulder and ask me to pause my game so that they could get the last sentence.
- At home, I played The Sims on one screen and studied on the other.
Not surprisingly, productivity has been a simultaneous struggle and accomplishment in my life. I get a lot done because I set the time aside and refuse to give in to complacency. But, it’s still a struggle.
Whether you have ADHD or just struggle to feel motivated, you could likely use a productivity boost. Here are some productivity hacks worth trying.
1. Identify Your Most Productive Hours
Everyone has a time during the day (or night!) when they are most productive. Unfortunately, for most people, that’s usually the last few hours when they need to finish all the work.
Make peace with your productive hours and get as much done during that time. Avoid letting meetings or social events get in the way. Check your emails less often, put the phone away, and focus on getting stuff done.
2. Take the Breaks You’ve Earned
In high school, my teacher explained that the brain starts to tire after half an hour or so of work. She recommended studying for half an hour and taking 10-minute breaks. This is a great way to structure your time, but it requires serious self-discipline. Some people can stay focused for hours on end, so do what works for you. Just remember to give your brain a rest.
I chose to structure my week instead of my days. I cram all my work into Mondays and Wednesdays to force me to get things done, so I can take Thursdays to Sundays off.
3. Reduce Distractions
What are the things that distract you most when you want to get work done? Some of these might be impossible to eliminate, so focus on the ones you have control over. If your phone gets the best of you, turn on Do Not Disturb.
My phone has a “flip to shhh” setting, so once I turn it face down, all notifications go silent. I also choose the seat in the RV with the less exciting view. That way, I don’t get sucked into what’s going on outside. I am a block from the beach in Mexico, after all.
4. Make To-Do Lists
Some people find to-do lists intimidating, but there’s nothing as satisfying as crossing things off that list and watching it dwindle. I had written to-do lists throughout my school years.
When I moved to the U.S., I started using a whiteboard and would cross things off as I completed them. Then, I would erase all completed tasks before bed and start again in the morning. Now, I use a spreadsheet for work, and Google notes for my personal life.
5. Change Your Job
It’s always easier for me to focus when writing for my newsletter or blog than when writing for clients. That’s because I like the topics I write about for you more than the ones I write about for them.
You might have a similar parallel at work. Maybe you need a new project, a new position, or the opportunity to work for a new company. Make a few minor changes to see what works, and then move toward what motivates you.
6. Work on Personal Happiness
Depression and mental exhaustion can severely reduce your ability to be productive. Confront the things in your life that have negatively impacted your mental health. Go to therapy. Meditate. Go to the gym.
Do whatever you can to compartmentalize or eliminate those feelings when you need to work. It is always easier to focus when the mind is at ease. If you struggle with anxiety, check out my worry-jar hack.
We have all struggled with productivity at some point in our lives. It is challenging to be productive in 2022. Workers and students have a lot to think about with the COVID-19 pandemic, monkeypox threats, polio outbreaks, increased gun violence, and a pending recession.
Take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Set realistic goals and cut yourself some slack every once in a while.
Did you find this useful? It would be awesome if you subscribed, tipped, or pledged!
There are no comments for this story
Be the first to respond and start the conversation.