The struggle to stay focused and concentrate has never been so real.
Distractions and worries are endless as the trauma of 2020 continues into 2021 and, unsurprisingly, it is terribly tricky to find and keep focus.
It’s only a mere week into the New Year and we’re once again living under lockdown constraints while mob violence unfolds in America. I think it was the launch of the Danish children’s TV show about man who cannot control his giant penis that convinced me that all sensibilities have flown away.
The climate crisis, which hasn’t paused, continues to fuel my eco-anxiety but, as a freelance copywriter and PR consultant, I must focus on my day-to-day operations, including sorting out my tax self-assessment, bringing in new business while working from home, and producing polished prose for my clients.
I know I’m not alone when I feel anxiety crowding my thoughts and procrastination beginning to take over; I’ve written about some of the things that I do to overcome this previously.
Here are my tips on staying focused when you must concentrate, despite the drama of the outside world.
Do not go down the rabbit hole
This works. Decide to control your intake of news and where you source it. At the beginning of the first lockdown, I decided to switch off my social media and news notifications and stopped watching live news, and it’s worked wonders for both my concertation and anxiety levels.
Instead, I check the news at designated time slots (usually at lunch time) and have subscribed to a number of newsletters, including Positive News, for daily doses of feel-good stories.
Similarly, close your browser tabs, switch off the radio, pop your phone on silent and put it out of reach, turn off the emails, and put a do not disturb sign on your door while you concentrate.
Set a timer
Setting a timer has proven useful both for alerting me when I need to find my phone to make a call and check messages, but it also works if I need a reminder to reset my concentration onto my writing if my mind has wandered.
Use your diary
When I’m laden with deadlines, I block out chunks of time using Microsoft Outlook diary. Along with the timer, it helps me manage my workload and keeps me on the right track.
Make a good old to do list
Forget about the big goals right now. Instead make a list of all the immediate, smaller tasks you know you can whizz through and check each one off as you go. I have tried and tested this and it’s remarkable how much you can actually get done in short, focused bursts.
I usually write my list at night as I find it helps clear my mind and gives me the chance to review the day and note down anything that has cropped up. Then I will review it in the morning and add any extras thoughts.
Do you have any recommendations that help to improve your concentration? I’d love to hear them! Please share in the comments below.