By DJ Jeffries — ENTREPRENEUR LEADERSHIP NETWORK WRITER — Entrepreneur & Founder of Led2Win.com
This story was first published on Entrepreneur.com.
Staying focused and on task is always a struggle. The first step to remaining productive and on track is to practice self-care. Keeping yourself physically and mentally strong takes as much effort and dedication as plowing through your never-ending list of to-dos.
Get a good night’s sleep
Without the proper amount of sleep, any bit of energy you have upon waking up will quickly diminish and leave you feeling sluggish. The average adult requires anywhere between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. If you find it hard to accomplish this, you may need to reshape your nightly routine just a bit. This could mean shutting down electronics a little earlier than usual or perhaps taking a walk to tire yourself out before attempting to hit the sack.
Eat a well-balanced diet
Adequate sleep will set you on a path for success, but a well-rounded diet will see you through to the finish line. Regular servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy can supply you with the energy needed to focus all day long. If you want to further hone in on strengthening your ability to concentrate, foods such as fish, berries, and leafy greens are especially synonymous with healthy brain function.
Make a to-do list
Writing out a to-do list can make all the difference when you’re feeling scatterbrained. Even when you have a decent idea of what needs to be done, jotting things down can help you stay on track and organize your day more efficiently. If your schedule allows, try to tackle the most mentally demanding activities first thing in the morning or early in the afternoon. You’ll be more alert than during the latter half of the day, so your mind will be less likely to wander.
Once it’s time to get down to business, it’s also time to throw out any distractions that threaten to offset your concentration. Some impediments have become heavily intertwined in our lives, but they may be interfering with your thought process nonetheless. A television playing in the background or a constant stream of notifications on your phone might seem like business as usual, but minimizing these excess stimuli can drastically improve your mental acuity.
Activate your work mode
It’s possible to improve your potential for staying focused throughout the day by training your mind to work for you rather than against you. One method of achieving this is to discover small actions you can take that will put you in the right mindset. Having a cup of coffee before you start your day, or dressing in the appropriate attire might be just the sort of cue your brain needs to get the memo that it’s time to get to work.
Since people tend to check out when they feel overwhelmed, you’ll fare better if you focus on taking baby steps. For example, most authors when tasked with producing a lengthy manuscript find it easier to stay engaged while writing if they tackle the project one chapter at a time. Taking on too much at once usually leads to thoughts trailing off or even avoiding the situation altogether.
Resolve prior obligations
When we make a habit out of putting things off, they have a way of bogging down our capacity to concentrate on anything else. With calls to be made and week-old emails that need responding to, it can feel like your mind is being pulled in several directions. Staying on top of your responsibilities frees you of these hindrances and enables you to take on what’s in front of you.
Take a breather
Even under perfect conditions, your attention span is sure to wane after a certain period. Knowing when to step back and give yourself a break will save you from a great deal of frustration. Although breaks are a good thing, moments you take to recoup should be relatively brief and never seriously detract from any progress being made. In moderation, taking a breather now and then will keep you sharp and laser-focused on the job at hand.
The number of things competing for our attention these days seems endless. Drowning out this noise takes practice, but it’s a skill that truly anyone can master. If you take care of yourself both physically and mentally, you’ll be ready to focus at the drop of a hat whenever the need should arise.
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