Focus and productivity are directly related. Here’s how.

Having a hard time accomplishing your to-do list? Check out these 5 ways to sharpen your focusing skills and boost your productivity.

1. Prevent distractions

Distractions are essentially anything that forces you to backtrack or re-do something you’ve already done. Did you know it takes your brain 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus after a distraction? For example, when you get distracted by email or social media, you’re not only wasting time on the distraction but the re-focusing as well.

It’s not enough to merely avoid distractions – you have to set up boundaries to help you stay on-task. Put a “work in progress” sign on your door and tell employees that sign indicates you would like to work without interruption. Also, sign out of social media accounts or get a social media blocking app to help you stay on track and prevent you from logging in at all. Creating a productive, distraction-free work-space will help you accomplish more in less time.

2. Pay attention to your environment

When you work, where you work, your work environment, in general, can impact how much work you get done. Some people work best during the morning, others in the afternoon or evening. Some people think they can work well with other people talking and doing things around them, most people can’t. Determine when you perform best or accomplish the most, then tackle your most important work during that time. Schedule calls, emails, or errands for other times when you’re not as productive or when the office is busier.

3. Combat hunger

Daydreaming about where you’re going to eat for lunch can really slow down your workflow. We’ve got news for you: it’s unproductive to work on an empty stomach! Take the time to stop and refuel on food and water. It will not only give your brain energy to work well, but it will prevent you from wasting time thinking about food (i.e. time you could have spent working.

4. Get proper rest

Everyone is different and needs a different amount of sleep in order to be productive. Some people are unable to get a full night’s sleep due to the type of work they do.

Studies show our brains have an easier time focusing on tasks when we are well rested! If you feel like the day always slips away from you, or you always grab that second, third, [cringe] fourth cup of coffee just to stay awake and alert, you may want to try getting 7-8 hours of good sleep and see how it affects your productivity.

5. Start your day right

The way you start your day has a direct impact on how you operate the rest of the day. If your morning “routine” includes hitting the snooze button repeatedly, scrolling through the news, or wolfing down a bagel, it’s doubtful you’re going to show up to work motivated and ready to focus. Get up as soon as your alarm goes off (maybe even put your phone out of reach, so you won’t be tempted to hit snooze!) Create a relaxing morning routine and stick to it every. single. morning. Eventually, this routine will communicate to your brain that it’s time to start being productive and help you stay on-target the rest of the day.

Ultimately, improving your focus is about working smarter, not harder.

You could come up with the most efficient system, collaborate with the best team, and create the most brilliant marketing strategy. But if you’re not sharpening your focusing skills, you will remain unproductive. It takes discipline and hard work to train your mind to focus, but it’s not impossible and you will get there. Set yourself up for success, train your brain to stay focused, and watch your productivity skyrocket when you do.

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