I find it also very helpful to have a list of all the action items I need to complete, with the priority of each one clearly set. Focus on the most important one's first. That distinction might depend several factors though, including:
- are other people or action items depending upon you finishing the action item in order for them to move forward? If yest, do these sooner than later
- is a certain deliverable really complex? If yes, it may be good to break it down into pieces and schedule time to do them in the blocks of time available to you
- is it a task you simply don't want to do, but you know you have to do it? If yes, do it sooner than later! You will then ave the pleasure and reduced stressed of having it behind you!
Being able to check off completed action items can be very motivating and encourage you to be more focused on the next item.
To improve your focus, try to find an area conducive to reading/studying; Maybe a quiet room in your home, a public or school library, a coffee shop, etc. where there are limited distractions. Recognize how you study best, whether its alone, with a friend, or with a group. Making flashcards or study guides can also improve your focus. Study tools like these can help you identify and remember important topics.
- Location - a place to concentrate that is not distracting
- Time - without a schedule amount, you may have competing priorities. Personally, I find without making a specified commitment to accomplish a task, it's more difficult to find the motivation.
- Give yourself a goal for the time spent - whether its read 20 pages, or completing a fixed number of questions, or writing a number of pages, specific goals can help determine your own measure of success.
Your ability to focus is heavily dependent on the signal/noise ratio in your mind. Noise is sum of all the distractions you have in your current daily life. Signals are all the learnings that are there for the taking. Your strategy should be to simply find a way to cut out the noises. here are some ways I do it
- Social Network Off Days - detox yourself from virtual worlds we are so accustomed to living in. Make it real. Interact more with the physical world. It helps
- Meditate - over time, this is the best way to get our minds to focus on what matters most
- Goal orientedness - having goals helps us focus
- Doing things your love - when you work on things that matter to you deeply, focus automatically comes
- Celebrate your wins - Rewarding your focused efforts is just as important.
I often work from home, which can sometimes be so distracting-- my dogs jumping around, dirty dishes calling out to be done, my netflix right within reach.
I typically start by outlining the specific tasks I need to accomplish that day. If it's a bigger project, I will break it down into smaller steps. I think use my phone to set a timer for the work. Usually I'll set 30-45 minutes, depending on the task. I won't touch my phone, I won't respond to co-workers' chats, I won't check e-mails or news sites. I only work on the one task I have chosen until the timer goes off. When my time is up, I take a small break for myself. 10-15 minutes to walk around the block, throw in some laundry, something small.
Knowing that I'm going to get that break keeps me focused on each item until it's done, or until I've made significant progress. If you're studying you could outline tasks in a similar way: allowing a break after a certain number of pages are read or problems are solved.I find that by actively giving myself regular breaks, the work seems less difficult to get through. Hope this helps!