Time hacks to improve your focus and GET MORE DONE!

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Hocus, pocus, focus – is it as fickle as you as it seems to be for everyone else?

In our busy, device filled world today getting your work done can be a real challenge whether that’s paid employment, household tasks or running a family.

Technology was meant to make our lives easier but they have actually made things far more challenging as they are constantly disrupting us with email messages, status updates, and likes and comments.

Our lack of focus is not a result of lack of skills or knowledge – heck you can Google that too. No. The real reason many of us struggle with achieving our objectives and getting all our stuff done is more commonly our inability to stay focused on the task at hand for long enough to fully complete it.

So before you re-read the book the One Minute Manager, or watch Brian Tracy’s Eat the Frog video one more time, stop and take a moment to consider that you might just need to improve your focus.

The beautiful thing about focus is that when you have it you can often find it easier to discern what truly needs to be done, it helps you prioritise the urgent, important and not so urgent.

Here are two key time hacks to help you improve your focus:

1 – Apply a time limit or self-imposed deadline

Yes I confess I am a “down the rabbit hold”, kind of girl and when I decide to research something on Uncle Google or Aunty YouTube I have to be really strict with myself or else I will find the clock has mysteriously warped forward two hours at lightning speed without my knowledge.

My cure – a time limit set on my trusty digital timer. I set the time and it beeps when my time is over. When you set a time limit, you force yourself to focus. Even self-imposed deadlines can create a sense of urgency that keeps us focused.

I generally work for 40-45 minute blocks then give myself a bathroom, water, phone call break so I can relax again and take focus pressure off. By assigning a clear time it helps you focus on what’s the critical things that need to get done, it helps you focus on doing only one thing at a time and avoid distractions.

2 – Eliminate bright shiny objects from sight

If you work on a computer then this could be your emails, internet browser, picture slideshow, social media, anything that isn’t necessary for the task at hand and could draw your attention away. All you have to do is CLOSE IT DOWN! I know I know, easier said than done.

I have had a habit of leaving my internet browser open on about 7 sites, along with my email and about 20 opened emails minimised or dragged to the side of the screen when I am meant to be focusing on one task – like writing this article!

If these things are open, sooner or later, unless you have nerves of steel, I guarantee you will switch to them and take a look. You may promise yourself that you are just taking a quick look at your email but a quick look soon turns into 5-30 minutes. And there you go off into bright shiny world of distractions again.

If it’s at home and perhaps you are preparing the evening meal, perhaps focus on the task at hand rather than trying to be superwoman and put the washing on, make the bed and help the kids with their homework all at the same time. Where possible sistas, one thing at a time will give you faster, better results.

This may sound like a major dampener on your fun, but once you have tried it, you will soon see the benefits it brings as it will improve your focus. And really it helps give perspective too – if you don’t respond to a message on Facebook for a few hours, it’s not a big deal.

If you want to complete the most important tasks and live the quality life you want, you need to be able to stay focused. Sure this is not a silver bullet and the tips above won’t solve all of your problems but they will enable you to make significant progress and improve your focus greatly.

Think about it, all the 5 minute chunks that you are distracted add up to a whole lot more and before long, you find that you have lost a lot of your day, leaving you behind in the activities that matter most, and worse making you feel anxious or concerned.

Give yourself a gift and try focusing for a while! The answer is always to #startwithU.

With love,

Heidi xx

Heidi Alexandra Pollard

As a workplace futurist and company culture hacker, Heidi Alexandra and her team are the secret super power for Australia’s most innovative cultures and brands. Heidi Alexandra created a simple model, called The UQ Powerhouse, that codifies what makes healthy, happy and productive workplaces for the future. She believes it is possible for businesses to balance people, planet and purpose with profit and that together we can end workplace bullying, depression, anxiety and suffering. Find out more at

1 Comment

  1. Nivek Thompson

    July 6, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Great ideas Heidi! I also find meditation builds my focus ‘muscle’. Even starting with 5 minutes a day can bring a noticeable improvement. It’s a case of ‘taking time to make time’.

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