You’re trying to finish that one assignment you’ve been putting off till the deadline but you find yourself constantly reaching for your phone.

Or instead of focusing on your research project, you are again minimising your work page and getting a little distracted by social media, getting lost on you YouTube feed, zoning out or having the most random thoughts.

For many of us, we have these numerous tasks that we have planned out for the day, those items on our to-do list we just have to complete but we can’t seem to focus our attention and just get them done.

The thing is, we sometimes run our lives on autopilot, fail to recognise what we should be doing at every point in time, waste a lot of time on distracting or unnecessary work and end up postponing the necessary and purposeful tasks.

So how do you focus better on what you should be doing?

1. Eliminate distractions: Distractions in this sense would be those things that compete for your attention when you have more important duties to attend to. This could even be information about work you still need to do, future deadlines, upcoming events. The plan here would be to remove the temptation before or during your work session and so reduce the energy needed to resist it.


a. Complete other necessary but minor work before you start working on the task. For example, go wash the plates, arrange your room or reply that email before you start studying. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself constantly worrying about it and then lose focus easily.

b. Remove your phone from sight if you do not absolutely need it for your work. I permanently disabled notifications from all social media networks so that even if I have to use my phone, I check messages when I want to and not just because it popped up.
I personally don’t use focus apps but you could check out Forest or Todoist if you need that extra help.

c. If you are easily distracted by people around, you could tell your roommates that you’re currently working and then listen to LoFi beats or instrumentals through your earpiece to block out conversations and other noise. Leave the room if possible and use a reading room, coffee shop or library.

As much as studying with others is useful sometimes, working alone will remove most of your temptations and help you study even faster. So limit your group study to tackling difficult topics or reviewing questions.

2. Manage your attention: Using the pomodoro technique is awesome when trying to complete a task but it can also be distracting. For example, if you’re studying a topic and as you’re just starting to understand the concept, you have to pause and take a break, your brain gets confused and you have to rebuild your attention again when you come back.

Therefore, try as much as possible to preserve your attention by getting into the flow and leaving “the zone” only when you are getting tired and honestly need a break. This way, you are engaging your task in the best way possible as you maximise your deep work.

Furthermore, engage in one complex task at a time and habitually incorporate the smaller things in between. For example, you can set your commuting time to listen to a podcast or your study break to do the laundry.

Just make sure you’re not doing anything too distracting in between like scrolling through Instagram or your WhatsApp messages.

3. Do similar tasks together: Don’t try to do too many things at a time because you won’t be fully focused on any. Multitasking and task switching will only slow down your productivity. Being productive doesn’t always mean being busy. In fact, the aim is to accomplish our important tasks and get the sense of fulfillment that comes with that.

4. Write everything down: When you are working and you keep remembering that project deadline or that person you need to check up on, don’t just stop your work and reach for your phone. Write it down instead. This will help you create mental space and hence focus more on the relevant tasks at the moment.

Maximise the use of your calendars, alarms, notepads, etc. You can even save links in your note app. Write down every distracting thought so you don’t have worry about or struggle to remember when you’re finally done with your present task.

Finally, be intentional about spending your free time wisely. Instead of scrolling mindlessly through social media, learn something new or sharpen existing skills. You can also reread this blog post from time to time and remind yourself to FOCUS.

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4 Responses

  1. Dominic says:

    I love this. You are doing a fantastic job, Vivaceva..
    It’s relatable and definitely felt personal.

    Well done and thank you

  2. Emmanuel Iteoluwakiisi says:

    Thanks for this

  3. Angelique Mawire says:

    Thank you dear

  4. Somtochukwu says:

    I feel attacked by the opening paragraphs😂💔
    Engaging in important activities with maximum focus is something a lot of us struggle with…
    These tips definitely come in handy😁
    Thanks for sharing:))

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