Here’s a secret: Focusing and defeating distractions doesn’t get easier. It doesn’t matter if you’re a manager, an executive or you’re just starting out at a company, losing track of time is a problem almost everyone struggles with. Concentration is something you have to work on every day, and while there are times when you just will feel less focused than usual, there’s a few agreed-upon strategies welcomed and shared by top CEO’s around the world.

First, prioritise

Instead of trying to tackle everything on your to-do list at once, start by figuring out what’s most important. Consider which items will have the biggest impact, which are most time-sensitive and which can be delegated. If you do end up getting carried away, you won’t be delaying the most important stuff.

Second, avoid multitasking

Once you know what’s most important, avoid multitasking — a slew of research shows humans are actually terrible at multitasking. Every time you switch tasks — even if it’s just looking up from reviewing a resume to send a quick message or check Facebook — your brain has to ‘refocus’, and for our ‘wetware’ – that’s not easy! It can take 23 minutes for the brain to refocus, resulting in a 40% loss of productivity.

If you’re thinking, “not me —I’m good at multitasking,” think again. Research shows people who think they’re good at multitasking are actually worse at it

Third, eliminate distractions

Research shows that even having your phone within reach reduces cognitive capacity, because of the underlying work your brain has to do to resist grabbing it. You heard that right: ignoring distractions uses a lot of brainpower!

Fourth, set boundaries

How often do you realise – usually at the very end of the day – that you spent every waking hour in front of your phone or laptop? Internalise the need to switch off and set a cut-off point (say 6pm) for when you must disconnect from the digital world and experience the real one.

Fifth, talk with yourself

Use Guiding Questions — Questions are a great way to reach the logical part of our brain and let it naturally find the right answers. Here are three that could be useful: Is this worth my time? What should my focus be on right now? How will spending my time on this make me feel later?
Would you like to share any tips or strategies you use to stay focused? Send us a message, or leave a comment – we’ll add it to our article!