3 Hacks to Help You Focus

 
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Hi, Whitney from Knapsack here to talk to you about Focus. One of my goals for this year is to be better at focusing in both my personal and professional life. I decided to approach this like I do most new projects; I signed up for a course: Modern Productivity -- Superhuman Focus in a Distracted World. Impressive title, right?

It was a great course, and while I’m not waking up at 5 am…yet, I have found several of the recommendations incredibly useful. In this post, I am going to share with you my favorite focus hacks from the course.

 
 
 
 
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1. Minimize Distractions using Do Not Disturb or Focus Assist

This small step has probably had the most significant impact on me. Most phones and computers offer a Do Not Disturb/Focus Assist option, and it is a game changer during the workday. Not only does it block those unwanted spam calls but it helps to minimize distractions such as emails, chats, and notifications.

My phone has been on Do Not Disturb pretty much 24/7 for the last few months, and it has been so liberating. I still check it at lunch and occasionally throughout the day, but on my timeline, not at its every ding or chirp. Do Not Disturb has also helped me limit my social media time because I am not intrigued by all of the notifications.

I would challenge you to try this for a week and see what you think. Here are links to set this up on your Mac, iPhone, PC, or Android.

 
 
 
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2. Plan and Prioritize

I love writing things down; I believe it brings clarity and helps me to remember. However, once I get halfway through a notebook, it quickly descends into chaos. When both the course and Ben (our creative director) recommended checking out the Bullet Journal method in the same week, I knew it was time.

The Bullet Journal provides an excellent organization system.  You can use any notebook to combine your personal and professional tasks and goals in one place. It includes organization, big picture overviews, and space for daily note taking. It also encourages regular reviews so you can see your progress, identify shifting priorities, and even eliminate tasks that have lost importance. This organization system, which allows me to keep my planner, checklists, and notes in one place, is a Godsend.

And if you've identified what needs to be done but are still struggling to prioritize, try Eisenhower’s Matrix.

 
 
Every minute spent in planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution. It takes only about 10 to 12 minutes for you to plan out your day, but this small investment will save you up to two hours in wasted time and diffused effort.
— Brian Tracy, Plan Ahead And Increase Productivity
 
 
 

3. Use Time Blocking

Time blocking takes the planning to another level, and as someone who puts the “pro” in procrastination, this has been good for me. You set aside a specific chunk of time, I’d recommend at least an hour, to dedicate to a particular objective and then you make yourself start. You can’t do anything else during this time. Now it may not be perfect when the time is up, but you’ve started, and sometimes that is the hardest part. Now take a break to work on something else and schedule a time to come back to your project with fresh eyes to finish it up!

Make more time for focusing by batching similar tasks. Ben covered this last month; if you haven’t read it, you should. In Use Batching to Save Time with 4 Common Office Tasks, he provides steps that you can implement right away, and shares how Knapsack has deliberately designed their workflow around this concept; it’s really cool.

 
 
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Now get out there and do more! Eliminate those distractions, make a plan to move forward with confidence, block-off some time to dedicate to your next big project and get started.

We would love to hear how these tips work for you! We’d also love to hear your go-to focus hacks. Don’t be shy, leave a comment and let us know!