Key tax dates and deadlines for 2018/19
It is an inevitable reality that, for anyone earning a livin...
By Jonathan London on 6th October 2015
Focus. Concentration. Application. Single mindedness. Self-discipline.
Whatever we call it, we don’t get things done without the capacity to apply ourselves to the tasks in hand.
The problem is we live in the age of the constant distraction. Social media, 24-hour news, email and phones calls, to name just a few, are all competing with each other to erode the time we spend being productive. And there’s evidence that our concentration spans are diminishing because of it.
So much so that most of us need to make a conscious effort to tackle distractions head on and devise a plan to master self-discipline. This is especially true if you’re self-employed and don’t work under the supervision of a boss with a whip to crack.
Before we lose your attention, then, here are 4 ways to find your focus.
We mentioned electronics-based distractions earlier. But there’s something far worse: the hunger pang. You can’t switch it off until it’s satisfied and it won’t let you think about anything else while it’s kicking in. Avoid starting work on an empty stomach and, if you’re a grazer, have your snacks handy while you work. Ditto for fluids – have plenty of coffee/water/tea on hand to get you through.
Many people find music helps to keep them focused. For some, classical does the trick*, for others it’s pop. Instrumental music is often more effective than songs with lyrics. This is because our brains are hardwired to decipher words and language – which will hamper rather than support concentration. You don’t have to restrict yourself to music, though. If you want to block out background noise or recreate a work-conducive ambience, take a look (or listen) at websites such as www.mynoise.net.
What does the end point of your task look like or achieve? Is it a final product in itself or part of a larger whole? Are other people depending on you to complete your part before they can get started on theirs? How will your contribution benefit your client? Visualising your work in a larger context instead of contemplating the drudgery of the process will help you appreciate its value – and motivate you to press on.
Be honest with yourself here and decide what you really want from every project you’re involved in. It won’t necessarily be the same every time. Common motivators are a love of what you do, the desire to be the best person at it, praise from a high profile client and a stunning addition to your portfolio. Equally, don’t be ashamed to admit to yourself that the money’s attractive or that you want to complete the job early and enjoy the free time that’ll buy you. Define what it means to you to get that job finished and keep in it mind for the duration.
* This blog was written with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major playing in the background.
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