The irresistible pull of a new Netflix series, your pet pawing at your feet for attention, your comfortable bed calling out your name, a notification that your crush has liked your photo on Instagram – it might be quite a feat to NOT be distracted now that most of you are working from home or attending virtual classes.
Even if you are in the office, you would probably be distracted by your colleagues’ “gossip” sessions, or while you are in the zone, a stack of documents might be dropped at your table, breaking your concentration.
These distractions can chip away at your ability to focus on your tasks at hand, which will affect your productivity – you may either start procrastinating at that point, or are forced to continue working into the wee hours of the night – both unhealthy habits.
Here are 3 tips to help you increase your attention span and focus better, amidst all that noise.
Create your own workspace
For those who are primarily working from home, some people are able to do work from the comforts of their beds, while others need a proper setup in order to be productive. Having a conducive workspace is important as you will be spending hours at the same spot. And unlike an office setup, at home, you have more flexibility to create your own workspace.
One of the most important aspects of creating this workspace is to separate it from the other rooms at your home, or at a designated area which is far from your bedroom (and kitchen – for those who love snacking ever so often!). By doing so, you are able to have your own “do not disturb” space – and this should be made known to the people you stay with.
Lighting is also crucial in creating a conducive working environment. Do you notice how office lights are mostly white and bright? This is because yellow or dim lights will hurt your eyes and tire you out.
The chair and table you work at should also be chosen wisely. The best chairs are those which are ergonomic to support your back posture, and the table’s height should be optimal to prevent you from craning your neck. In the office, be sure to raise your chair high enough that your legs are firmly touching the ground when you sit straight. Use a back-support pillow if you need to as well.
Also, don’t forget to keep your space clean. You might be one who thrives in organised chaos, but decluttering your workspace will help you be more productive as you will be less distracted by the items around you, and spend less time searching for the things you need.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique? Let’s break it down.
The Pomodoro Technique is a popular life hack for time management which could help you maximise your focus and increase your productivity. It basically teaches you to see time as a friend i.e. to work with time, instead of racing against it.
This method works great for those whose workday can be derailed by small distractions, are productivity enthusiasts, and enjoy gamifying their work process.
Fun fact: “Pomodoro” is “Tomato” in Italian, and takes reference from the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that the creator of the Pomodoro Technique used during his student days.
Its core process consists of these following steps:
1. Choose a task you need to complete – this should be a task which deserves your full attention.
2. Set your Pomodoro for 25 minutes – stay focused on your task during this time.
3. Work on your task until the Pomodoro rings – Well done, you have managed to focus for 25 minutes! Time to give yourself a pat on the back. You can also record what you have completed down.
4. Take a 5-minute break – Do something that is not work-related. Give that brain of yours some rest!
5. Start your Pomodoro again – After you have completed four Pomodoros, you can take a half-hour break to restore your brain and allow it to digest new information. You can also reward yourself by watching an episode of Emily in Paris!
Of course, you don’t have purposely get a tomato-shaped timer for this. You can always use your phone’s timer – just ensure it is set to ring – and loudly.
Additionally, you can use a task management app like Asana or Todoist to help you improve your productivity and organise your thoughts better to complete tasks more efficiently, alongside the Pomodoro Technique.
Listen to music
Do different types of music affect your mood differently? You may have discovered that certain genres help you concentrate better as well.
Here are three types of music you can check out if you want to increase focus and boost productivity.
1. Classical music
The sounds of classical composers like Mozart, Beethoven and Bach have been said to help with improving one’s focus, while enhancing brain activity to support overall well-being. Their calming nature also supports in reducing stress.
Apart from being able to help with increasing your focus, jazz is said to have an effect on the waves your brain produces – one being the Theta brain waves which can stimulate your mental capacity to achieve lightbulb moments.
3. Sounds of nature
Nature’s soothing ASMR sounds such as rain or flowing water, are said to help with improving one’s focus, productivity and brain function. These calming sounds can teleport you to a lush rainforest, also support in boosting your mood and making you feel more refreshed.
If you are unsure of what to listen to, trust Spotify to suggest playlists to boost your concentration – if a particular track doesn’t work, you can always skip to the next!
You may find it a challenge to fully concentrate on your tasks but with these tips, you should be able to JumpStart your way into having better focus, improved productivity and producing better results. It’s time to get cracking!
This article is brought to you by Standard Chartered Bank (Singapore) Limited. All information provided is for informational purposes only.