When I was in university, I remember receiving my syllabuses from my professors and within seconds, my anxiety would spike from 0-100.
Once things settled down, lectures began and months progressed, I, of course, forgot about that little to-do paper – until exam time.
As a millennial growing up during the emergence of social media, cell phones and well, screens everywhere, it was almost impossible to concentrate.
All I could think about was refreshing my Instagram feed, checking Snapchat, and reading anything that wasn’t my chemistry textbook.
I realized that in order to achieve my goals, graduate from school, and receive that $20,000 piece of paper, I had to beat myself at my own distracted tendencies.
So here are seven things that help me stay focused and actually complete the stuff I said I would:
1. Schedule Screen Time
Phones are the first thing you touch in the morning and the last thing you look at in the evening – I get it! I don’t blame you for having the urge to incessantly check every social media app instead of completing your task but it really can eat up your time. A good strategy is to schedule your screen time. Set an alarm on your phone every hour and only check your messages/notifications at that moment for 5 minutes or less. Isolating and committing to that one bit of small screen time will really make the rest of your time more productive.
2. Play White Noise
Yeah, this sounds like a technique a massage therapist uses but trust me, it works! Drowning out the distracting noises keeps you focused on the task at hand. My go-to player, which offers noises beyond white, can be found here.
3. Drink Lemon Water
When I get insanely bored from things like reading lecture notes, responding to work emails or attending back-to -back meetings, I find lemon water to be the best pick-me-up I can get and yes, even more so than caffeine! Plus, it aids in digestion, helps your skin, and overall boosts your energy/morale which, in turn, keeps you on your toes during crunch time.
4. Snack Snack Snack
I don’t mean chips, candy or soda – I mean snack on nutritional stuff like the #fitspo Instagram accounts suggest. Nuts, yogurt, raw vegetables etc. These brain foods will keep you going and quiet that rumbling stomach of yours.
5. Interrupt Your Work Time With Exercise
This one may get some backlash but there’s nothing wrong with breaking up your work with some exercise! After every solid hour of work, take a one minute break and get moving. Whether it’s pushups, sit ups, planks, yoga poses, squats or whatever, injecting a little extra activity into your day will kickstart your brain like nothing else.
6. One task at a time
You may have a lot going on but sometimes, a simple task that should take 30 minutes can end up taking 3 hours when you’re bombarded with new to-dos all day long. Instead, exit your email, mute your phone, and mark one thing at a time off your list.
No, you’re not a household pet but everyone likes a reward. I know I said your snacks should be healthy but we are human so some fun snack rewards can often spice up a day of hard work. Setting reward quotas can help you move more efficiently. For example, after reading 2 pages of your abnormal psych book, you get a piece of licorice. After completing a report at work you get a piece of a caramel bar. Whatever your kryptonite is, sometimes it can work to your advantage!