5 Tips To Stay Focused
Recently, I quit my job in a management position to pursue marketing. Now that I am self-employed, I have experimented with new ways to stay focused and get more work done. I hope some of these tips will help you.
Delete Social Media
This one might sound weird coming from a social media marketer. I deleted the social media apps off of my phone. As someone who has studied how the platforms work and how to create posts that make people want to watch, I understand how bad these platforms can be for our productivity and focus. That being said, I understand most people reading this will not go and delete their accounts. That’s fine, try setting an app limit instead of only allowing yourself to use social media after work has been completed.
Most of my work can be done through third-party apps on my PC. For instance, Meta Business Suite allows me to post, comment, and send direct messages on both Facebook and Instagram. I found using social media this way has benefited my productivity. Rather than using the platforms aimlessly, if I need I download the apps and use them deliberately for my marketing.
Daily Deep Work
Cal Newport wrote a book called Deep Work. He defines deep work as, “Professional activity
performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” I highly recommend his book if you want to improve your productivity.
I try to spend at least 2 hours a day doing some form of deep work. Usually, that is in the form of content creation in Adobe Photoshop. However, for my work, it can also be writing, planning ad campaigns, or doing market research. Having time set aside for zero interruptions and deep concentration will increase your productivity significantly.
Track Your Work
Tracking your work helps you hold yourself accountable while also gamifying your work. It feels better to see how long you worked and what you accomplished than going in day-to-day unaware of how much you’re working. Just don’t make your tracking take more time than necessary, it should be easy to measure. Tracking should be kept around a couple of minutes a day at most. Don't lose productivity to your tracking.
When I wasn’t self-employed, it was easy to track how long I was at work. I clocked in and clocked out. Of course, it was harder to track the actual amount of time I spent being productive. There are ways to do that, however.
Firstly, I do track the amount of time I spend working each day and record it on a timesheet at the end of the day. For this, I use my phone’s “stopwatch” whenever I start or stop working. Because I work for long periods of time, this isn’t too much of a hassle and takes about a minute a day at most.
Second, it is important to make sure the hours you are working are productive. Otherwise, you might as well stop and pick things up tomorrow. Find some metrics you can track to determine your productivity. Maybe it’s a certain number of words written, pictures taken, or sales calls. Regardless of what you are tracking, set a range for your productivity. One sales call may not be productive but five to ten sales calls may be.
Schedule "Unproductive" Time
It’s inevitable, eventually, you are going to be “unproductive.” I put unproductive in quotes because in order to be productive you need some unproductive time. Despite what hustle culture tells you, you can’t work all the time. That doesn’t mean you’re being unproductive. You are, you are improving your future productivity by doing something more relaxing and enjoyable in the present moment.
I can’t tell you how much time you need to recharge. That’s a very subjective and personal need that changes based on the circumstances in our lives. Scheduling the time, however, is extremely helpful. When you have work that needs to be done, you’ll be able to say “I can watch Netflix on Friday night.” This tip can also make your life more interesting. For me, I love planning long trail runs on the weekends. Because I schedule these things, I have been to a lot of really cool places. Schedule things that interest you and stick to them, you’ll have greater free time!
Plan Your Day
Jesse Itzler, the co-founder of Marquis Jet, says “No one is good enough to wake up and wing it.” It’s true. Regardless of whether or not you’re an entrepreneur, no one is good enough to wake up without a plan. Schedule your day the night before. What actions will actually benefit you and your work?
Many people have trouble when planning their day. They think to themselves, “There is so much I need to do.” Then they throw it all on the list, get two things done, and lose momentum. Try this; write two plans, one ideal plan, and one realistic plan. Write the first list with everything that comes to mind that would make it your perfect day. In the next list, write only what you know you can accomplish. I’m not saying don’t push yourself, but I am suggesting that you’re realistic with your goals. You'll beat yourself up less and actually get more done through the momentum you gain.
Thanks for Reading!
I hope these tips bring you some value and increase your focus! Keep working at it, it takes time to develop discipline. These are skills and skills are learnable!