Staying focused can be an extremely difficult thing to do.
Especially today, our world is full of distractions designed to make you less focused and lazier.
The simplest examples are our phones or devices.
10 minutes into doing your work, your phone can start ringing, a notification pops up, and then all the focus that had built up just dissipates.
However, staying focused depends on the person - some people are able to stay more focused than others.
On the other hand, there are those who can't stay focused to save their lives.
I'd say I'm somewhere on the lower end of that scale - I can focus when I need to, but I can easily get distracted.
In some cases, however, for example, when I wrote my 30,000-word book in a week, I was laser-focused on the tasks at hand.
Usually, when we're doing something we enjoy, we're able to get into a state of deeper work and thus get more done.
When we feel like we're forcing ourselves to get more done, we're less likely to stay focused on what it is we're doing.
If you never liked school, this might be a familiar example to you.
When I was in class at school, I found that I got distracted very easily - I either started daydreaming, talking to friends or drawing on my book.
Sometimes, I'd find myself getting up every 5-10 minutes to do something randomly around the house.
I might wash my hands, comb my hair, hoover some of the house, etc.
This happens to me when I feel like I don't know what to do in that current moment - I had done everything I've needed to do for the day and so I'm just left thinking of things to do to make time pass.
Being able to focus is very important if you're looking to get real work done.
That's why we're going to discuss how to stay laser-focused while working and get more done.
These are all things that have worked for me and have helped me stay more focused while working.
Timing yourself is the simplest way to find out how much work you're really getting done.
You can start by using a timer to see how long it takes you to get distracted when you start working.
This will act as a benchmark.
Once you have a strong figure down, you'll want to start implementing a technique that you may have heard of, but many people don't actually use.
The Pomodoro technique is a sort of timer where you work for 25 minutes, then take a little 5-minute break.
You can repeat this as many times as you like, however, it's best to repeat it 4 times then take a longer break at the end of all of those - usually between 15-30 minutes.
The reason this is a great technique that helps you stay focused is that it allows you to see how much work you've done compared to how long you're setting for yourself.
Most of the time when we're working, we don't give ourselves a way to measure our work.
We just sit down and start working without anything to guide us.
We may give ourselves 5 hours to work, but we don't know anything that happens in those 5 hours.
The Pomodoro technique is an easy way to track the work you do so that you don't burn out.
On average, a human is able to focus for around 2 hours before needing a long break.
That is why the Pomodoro technique is so useful, you're able to work for almost two hours then take a longer break.
The easiest way to get the Pomodoro going is by using a timer on your phones or laptops.
I would recommend the second option because you usually wouldn't want your phone next to you when you're working.
Every time the 25 minutes is over, put on another timer for 5 minutes to take a little break.
Here, you're free to do whatever you want - eat a fruit, watch a bit of your show, etc.
The most important thing to note is that when it's time for the 5-minute break, you should not be working.
The whole point of this technique is to keep you focused. Working for longer than necessary will not lead to optimal work.
Whilst working on my previous startup - Condensr, I had to learn all about how people read.
Whilst doing this, I was exploring the best techniques that help people stay focused, learn more, and retain more.
To my surprise, exercising regularly was one of the most important things that helped people learn and retain more information.
This is the same with staying focused whilst working.
I realised how powerful this was and so I was going to make sure that all my users knew the value in this too.
When the user logs into the app, there would be a small popup that goes through the best ways to learn - one of them would have been regularly exercising.
Although this idea did not come to fruition, I am here today to tell you the benefits of exercise and how it helps you focus for longer and get more work done.
A simple Google search told me that whilst exercising, it helps your body trigger something called 'endorphins.'
This is what is responsible for helping you deal with stress and pain, increasing pleasure and your overall energy levels.
This increase in pleasure and energy helps you feel better, and more relaxed while you work.
The combination of having more energy and feeling relaxed leads to more effort and focus as it improves the prioritizing functions of our brains.
Being able to better prioritize things based on importance allows you to block out what seems to be a distraction and helps you focus on what is required or necessary.
On top of this, your brain is able to remember more information when it's working actively. This is why at night, you might find it harder to work,
Your brain just wants to rest at this time.
This also explains why a lot of people go out for a run or go to the gym so early in the morning.
They want to stimulate their brains to be most active before they go and start their workday.
Doing exercise doesn't always mean going to the gym and lifting weights.
You can simply do something easier and more enjoyable.
You might want to go on a jog whilst listening to your podcast, you might want to do a bit of circuit training, you could even play sports that you enjoy.
A few years back, I got into basketball and really enjoyed it.
Even though I used to go to my local court almost every single day, I now try to go at least once a week.
This helps me both relieve stress, enjoy myself and stay in shape and healthy.
I'd argue that doing something once a week is not enough, so doing extra exercise, even for 10 or 20 minutes a day can be very beneficial and help you focus while working.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is the most important thing if you're looking to stay focused.
I remember when I started working at Amazon.
We would have to get up at 3 am in the morning to go to work at 4 am in the morning.
This usually meant that I got around 4-5 hours of sleep.
On average, a person needs 8 hours of sleep to function properly.
This meant that I was getting almost half as much sleep as I needed.
I thought that it wouldn't be a problem and that I could get through it, however, a few weeks into working like this, I started to notice how tired and lazy I was as a result of this.
Working at Amazon is an extremely laborious job.
You're picking up, dragging, and handling heavy boxes and bags from 4am in the morning to around 12pm in the afternoon at least.
Towards the end of my time at Amazon, during the last few months and weeks, I got extremely lazy and tired.
Going into work, I couldn't hit the quota to save my life.
A few bags in and I would have been exhausted - I was almost the slowest person in the warehouse.
Compare this to when I first started, I was the fastest person in the warehouse, I had really experienced the fatigue of working non-stop and sleeping too little.
This was an unhealthy combination.
In fact, when you don't get enough sleep - going without sleep for 18-24 hours or longer - your focus is as impaired as a drunk person.
See, sleep is where it all starts.
Without sleep, you're waking up to have a bad day.
A lot of people think that they can just use willpower or discipline to get through it, and it might even work.
However, after a few weeks, you'll be in a miserable state with none of the discipline or willpower you initially had.
Without enough sleep, you're memory, problem-solving, creativity, emotional processing, and judgment are all impaired too.
I can't begin to tell you how important sleep is for staying focused while working and everything else too (mainly because I'm not a scientist).
I've talked about 6 bad habits all entrepreneurs must quit now, one of the biggest ones was the habit of sleeping late or waking up too late too.
Sleeping 8 hours a day doesn't count when you're going to sleep at 2am, 3am, etc.
You'll still wake up extremely tired after 8 hours of sleep.
You may hear of a lot of people talking about working 20 hours a day, sleeping 3 or 4 hours only.
This is where a lot of people go wrong - they think doing a lot of hours means they're getting real work done.
It's quite the opposite. When you don't get enough sleep, your focus will be terrible and so working for 20 hours is more like working for 2 or 3 hours than being distracted or unfocused for the rest.
It's better to sleep for 8 hours, work for 8 hours where you're actually getting work done than to sleep for 4 hours do 12 hours of work where you're only really working for 4 hours max.
Plan your workday
Planing is crucial for staying laser-focused while working.
When I first started entrepreneurship, I would just sit down and do work with no structure or plan for what I want to do.
I just worked until it felt like I had done enough work for the day.
The issue with this is you'll never know how long or how much you really did.
It took me a while to stop doing this and to start doing something a lot more useful and structured.
As humans, we love it when we make progress.
This is why I now start working and have a checklist/quota or a goal of what I want to get done today.
For my newest SaaS project - Hawk Prospecting, I have a daily quota of 30 cold Facebook messages, 20 cold LinkedIn messages, 20 quora questions.
On top of this, I always write an article a day in the morning like this - then the rest of the day, I could either do something else or just take a break.
I find it very hard to take breaks, especially when I'm nowhere near where I want to be in life - this is why I have a small checklist of things I want to do after the daily must-dos.
When you have a plan or a structure for how your day is going to look, it's a lot easier to stay focused and get the work done.
However, when you just say that you'll figure it out whilst you're working, then it's going to be hard to stay focused while working because most of your time will be spent being distracted or figuring out what to do.
The best thing to do, if you don't have a plan for each day is to write a list of things you want to do the next day during the night before.
Write it on a small sticky note and leave it on your monitor or laptop.
The next day, when you're going to work, you can see what you have to do and so it's a lot easier to get straight into it and stay focused while working.
Play some music
This was one of the reasons I was able to write my 30,000-word book in only a week.
Go on YouTube and type in 'focus music for working.'
There will be a ton of very long videos - just find one that you like and play it.
You might take a while to figure out which music you really like, however, once you do, you'll be able to stay focused for a lot longer.
My favorite are the calm and relaxing instrumentals. Jazz is by far the best in my opinion.
Whilst there are some people who can focus with music that contains words or lyrics, I find it extremely distracting to play this music whilst working.
In fact, for around 4 months now, I haven't listened to any songs.
Mainly because I haven't been in a position where I need to, but also because of how distracting and out of character it is.
Imagine trying to get some deep work in and there is rap playing in the back, you'll either want to rap along or you just won't be able to focus.
Around a month or two ago I also discovered this thing called 'Brain.fm.'
Essentially, it's a company that creates music and instrumental that is scientifically made using patented technology to help you work better and focus longer while working.
They have a few videos on YouTube to try out, however, there are also many places you can find a lifetime deal to their software for a low price.
It might work for some, and it might not work for others - I personally really like it and it works well for me.
These have been the 5 best ways to maintain laser focus while working and to get more work done.
Did you learn something new from this article?
What else do you do to stay focused?
Let me know in the comments below.
Till next time,