8 Ways to improve your focus

Reading time – 2 minutes

Thank you for the question

A lady bent over her computer with her hands covering her eyes

“How do you recommend managing mechanical “mesmerizing” tasks like data entry that can literally put me to sleep?”

Distractions will always be around to keep you from focusing on a task.  It may be boredom, people, technology, the list is endless.  When you are able to actively focus on a task you get it done quickly with fewer mistakes. In the case of “mechanical mesmerizing tasks”, this means you don’t have to do it for as long. I think we all have tasks that we find difficult to concentrate on and begin to daydream. 

Picture of a lady with many distractions, food, coffee books cellphine

Here are 8 suggestions

Let me know if any resonate with you.

  1. Use music with or without words, this may make the setting you are working in more enjoyable and help you to feel like working
  2. Do this task at a time of day when you are most productive and can focus well
  3. Break the task into smaller tasks (batches of data entry, invoicing etc) do a little each day instead of a lot all at once
  4. Add white noise to your working space so you are not distracted by other sounds that can draw your attention away from what you are doing
  5. Set a timer – agree to work until the timer goes off and then change tasks or take a break.  Do this until the task is completed.  Getting up and moving can really help to let you be able to go back to the task and concentrate again.
  6. Give yourself a reward, when it is done I can …….
  7. Change the place where you do the task, perhaps you need a cooler space, better lighting, an out of the way space, etc
  8. Make a game out of it.  See how many items you can enter in 5 minutes.  Repeat until the task is done.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful so you can focus and get the task done quickly. 

If it takes less time because you are focused you will need to focus for less time.

In the comments share the techniques you use to help increase your focus on mundane tasks.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of physical activity to reduce clutter, in your home and office. She guides and supports you to manage your time. If you’re in a difficult transition Julie can coach you to break-free of emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Online courses are available to help instruct, coach and support your organizing projects. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.

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12 thoughts on “8 Ways to improve your focus”

  1. Hi Julie,
    I guess we are on the same wavelength. I wrote about focus in my blog as well this week. I notice that this is a common issue in many of our clients. It is so good to have a few tools on hand to keep us all on track. My favourite is the Pomodoro technique aka using a timer to stay focused.

    1. Using a timer is a very good way to stay on task. It can be set for a short amount of time so you can check and see if you are still on task. A timer is also good for a longer time frame to signal when to take a break.

  2. I love that you mentioned using with or without words music. I find that without words, music works best for data entry. The music becomes background noise and is easy to ignore when I have to focus. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on mechanical tasks.

    1. Music is so subjective. Some like classical or rock, instrumental or vocals. It can be a bit of trial and error to find the type of music that works to help you stay focused instead of the music becoming a distraction. I use music a lot when I do physical tasks. When I am doing mental tasks I need it quiet.

  3. I wrote my dissertation to the soundtrack of the movie, “Dances with Wolves.” Normally, I work in a quiet space, but at the time, I needed the help with focusing. To this day, if I hear the buffalo hunt song from that movie, I feel like writing…fast!

    1. Thank you for that example. Music can help be a motivator to get things done more quickly. It can also help calm or slow down people who are feeling very anxious. It is important to select the right type of music for the task.

  4. I’m totally into #3. I just can rarely do a monotonous job for a long period of time. Actually, if I’m honest, I enjoy breaking most things down into tiny bits. If I know I only have to do it for a short period of time, I don’t mind so much. Seems to make it easier for me to dive in because it’s “only for 10 minutes,” or whatever.

    I also love having music on. My son-in-law turned me on to this Amazon Music channel “Low fi hip hop.” It’s great background music for work or studying!

    1. If a mundane task will take a long time it is easy to procrastinate and avoid doing it. If you can see it as a list of small tasks it can be easier to pick one and complete it.

  5. I love these tips, especially about figuring out whether you need music with or without words. In general, I can’t focus on anything if there are songs with words, but in my younger years, I listened to Billy Joel so non-stop that it would fade into the background enough for me to focus. It’s been too long, and now it’s like new music to me, so that doesn’t work, and I need white noise.

    But I’ve got another secret (even though I use all of your tips). I actually like boring tasks. Filing or data entry is very soothing to me. 🙂

    1. You’re right Julie sometimes it is nice to have tasks that don’t take a lot of thought and you do them without much thinking. It is important to schedule those tasks when you want something boring to do. A lot of time at the end of my work day I do those mundane tasks because I am tired of planning, organizing and researching information. Use the time that you have a lot of energy and creative thinking for big projects and don’t use that time for “boring” tasks. They will seem even more mundane if you are feeling a lot of energy.

  6. Putting on my noise canceling headphones and finding a chill music playlist on Spotify has really helped me focus on my tasks for today (ones I’ve been putting off for half of the week), so I fully endorse your first point.

    1. Oh, great suggestion. My noise canceling headphones broke and I forgot all about that idea. In the past, I have used them without music as white noise to help block out distractions.

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