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Find more focus with these 4 simple tips.

Hannah Swierstra profile picture

By Hannah Swierstra

Find more focus with these 4 simple tips.

The focus of this month’s blog is FOCUS.

See what I did there?

I am a punditry wizard 😆

Really though, how often do you find yourself losing focus?

Do you struggle to concentrate on one thing & find yourself flitting from one thing to the next, never quite getting it done & ending the day feeling exhausted?

It’s not uncommon and I am certainly guilty of it, but I have some tips and tricks up my sleeve that help me to get me ‘head back in the game’, whatever that ‘game’ is!

1. Take a break

I like to go back to the old school simple tricks!

It takes something like 37 times for a message to be registered in our brains, however, with this one it seems more like 5 million. Why do we think we don’t deserve a break is a topic in itself, so for now, I’ll keep it simple.

Take A Break!

And maybe try a bit of breath work. It only needs to take a minute, but it should help clear your mind & allow you to re-focus.

There are so many breathing techniques out there and if you’re finding working out which one to try is sending you down a rabbit hole, I recommend box breathing. Close your eyes, then breath in for the count of 4; hold your breath for 4, breathe out for a count of 4 and again hold for 4. Repeat this 3 times, or more.

2. Set a timer

Setting a timer is a fantastic way of keeping your focus, I turn my phone onto silent, put it face down & away I go until the timer buzzes. That then means I either need to move onto the next thing or take a break.

They come in all shapes and sizes, from ones you have on your desk, to computer or phone. Then there are the apps. All of these can be really helpful, and I found myself using multiple different ones until I found the one that worked for me.

Simple electronic timer – this could be on your watch, phone, or computer. The benefit of the timer app on your computer is that you can create a range of timer lengths & just set off the relevant one, whereas with your phone or watch you usually have to adjust the time each time you use it.

Apps – there are a number of apps available, and my two favourites are BeFocused & Forest. BeFocused allows you to set timers for work & break, for example, you can set the timer for 50-55 minutes then allow yourself a 5 to 10-minute break. Forest is particularly useful if you want to keep away from distractions, namely your phone. The aim is to grow a plant or tree depending on how long you set the timer for. If you try to use your phone while the timer is running, your plant shrivels up and dies… It’s a great motivator!

That said, my favourite is the traditional timer, like an egg or cube timer. These are easy to use, and pretty faff free. A few months ago I bought myself a cube timer which has 4 inbuilt settings, 15, 20, 30 & 60 minutes and I just turn it with the relevant number facing up & the timer starts. I probably didn’t need to ‘waste’ my money on this, but anything that reduces faff and keeps me away from my phone is a winner.

3. Turn your notifications O F F

I cannot bang on about this enough, so excuse me for repeating myself but one sure fire way of helping you maintain focus is by turning your notifications off.

Whether it’s turning off email notifications on your social media platforms and/or email desktop notifications, or simply putting your phone on DND, they will all make a huge difference to your focus.

I don’t often put my phone on DND, unless I’m in a meeting, because people rarely phone me and I’m OK with that! But I learnt very early on in my business owner journey that turning off my social notifications was a game changer. I don’t even get that little red circle on the app on my phone. I don’t need the notifications because you don’t need to ask me twice to check my social, it’s habit, addiction, whatever you want to call it. But I make sure I am accessing my social on MY terms not someone else’s.

If I don’t need to access my emails, I will also turn my desktop email app. That way I don’t get distracted by my emails or that little envelope that sits on the icon. It makes it so much easier for me to get my head down & focus on what I really need to do. As it happens, a few days ago, I desperately needed to get something off my desk. I turned all apps off and cracked on from 8am, by 9am it was done & if I’d opened my emails, I know it would have taken me till 10am.

4. Music

Not everyone can listen to music while they work, but I love it, especially if I want to get in the zone.

I have rules mind you, based on my mood and what I need to get done otherwise I’d end up singing & desk dancing to my heart’s content and get nothing done!

Energy – this is the music I listen to either before or after work that I sing extremely untunefully & boogie to. Songs like Titanium, Zombie, Don’t Stop me Now, and Rabbit Heart.

Mood – this is my afternoon chill when I’m doing a jigsaw puzzle with a beer – rock and roll baby, or post-lunch, when I just need a bit of mood, you know? My current fave is the Spotify radio based on Michael Kiwanuka, my number 1 artist of the moment – I’ve Been Dazed is sublime.

Focus – if I really need to get my head down, but my mind is whirring, a focus playlist from Spotify or Headspace does the trick. It removes the mental noise & lets me crack on.

Silence – interspersed with random barking from my dog at a leaf that blew past the window!!

I’d love to know what you do to get more focus so please let me know in the comments or ping me an email at hannah@balance-va.co.uk