8 Ways to Stay Productive and Focused
1. Make a list. It's easy to get distracted from what needs to be done when there isn't a list in front of you. I often work from two lists: one large, all encompassing list and one that I make up daily of the tasks I want to complete that day.
2. Take a break. It's easier to be productive when you work in small chunks of time. People recommend spending 25-50 minutes working, and then taking a short break before getting back to work. Another similar strategy is to work on one task at a time, and work until that task is done, or as close to done as you can get.
3. Prioritize. I can easily get caught up in doing smaller, less important tasks in an effort to avoid a more important task...in fact, I am often guilty of this. It's important to prioritize what tasks are the most important to get done, and do them first.
4. Shut everything down. Everything. How many times do you check Facebook? Twitter? Email? Blog Statistics? If I have other stuff to be working on, the answer is often. Too often. If you really want to improve your focus, you need to shut them all down. Really.
5. Use headphones. With or without music. Often there is so much going on around me, that the best way to really focus is to shut out the distractions around me. Either by putting on music, or even just putting on a set of headphones, you immediately remove yourself from the situation.
6. Set times and routines for getting work done. When I sit down at the computer to work at night, I have a particular routine that I go through. First I check my email, then my forums, and do any other "distracting" things I want to get done first. Then I open up my work and get started. By doing this, I am less likely to feel compelled to go back and check. Using the routine and specific times to check in (first thing) helps keep my mind focused on the work at hand.
7. Give yourself "time off." I never used to do this. Every night I would sit down and get right to work on the computer until I went to bed. Needless to say, that got old quick and often led me to spending whole nights, or even multiple nights, not feeling motivated to work at all. Now, if I schedule in some "time off" I am able to refuel and focus on my work when I get back.
8. Realize that it might not all get done. This is so hard for me, even now. It's one of the most important techniques I have for productivity right now. By letting go of this idea, I am able to work more freely, and focus on the work more. If something doesn't get done, then it gets added to tomorrow's list. Simple, but hard to do.
What do you do to keep yourself focused and productive when you are trying to get work done?