8 Apps, Tools, and Tactics to Improve Focus
“Energy is the essence of life. Every day you decide how you’re going to use it by knowing what you want and what it takes to reach that goal, and by maintaining focus.” -Oprah Winfrey
Focus is one of the most important skills you can develop. The best work is done while focused. The only problem is that focusing isn’t natural. Especially in the age of push updates and constant connectedness online, it takes planning and practice to cultivate the kind of tenacity needed to sit for 2 hours and work on a single thing. We need an army to combat all of these distractions, so we’re giving you that army. Here’s a few tools and tips to help you focus on what needs to be done:
If you can’t seem to quit all of the smart-phone distractions, then install Forest! Whenever you need to focus, plant a seed in your forest app and watch as your seed turns into a tree. The only catch: if you use your phone for any reason, then your tree dies! Over time build your forest and stay focused! Oh, and every virtual tree you plant, Forest plants a real one somewhere in the world. How Cool!
Book: Deep Work by Cal Newport
If you read one book this year, then make it this one! Cal Newport explains his concept of “deep work” as being the ability to focus on a cognitively demanding task for long periods of time. He shows scientifically and anecdotally how deep work makes us better producers and provides a route to explore deep work yourself. The book is a quick-read and the insights will make a lifetime of working more efficient. Worth it if you ask me!
Buy Deep Work
Tactic: “One tab at a time”
Humans can’t do two things productively at once. It’s science, believe me. So why do we always have a dozen tabs open on our computer? If your email, facebook, google search results, the number for that restaurant, and word processor are all open, then your aren’t getting any real work done. Instead, adapt a one-tab policy. Limit yourself to only a single tab no matter what. This little trick makes you think twice every time you want to open a new tab, since you’ll have to leave what you are currently working on. Is it worth it to leave your page do a quick search and then come back to the page you are working on? These little questions are the building blocks of focus and productivity.
The person who tries to do everything ends up doing nothing.
Aid: What’s the Buzz Coffee
Okay, focusing is hard and I love coffee. How about a little motivation pick-me-up to get started? What’s the Buzz Coffee is a Texas-based roaster that I have loved for a while. They have several roasts available on their website. Buy What’s the Buzz, you won’t be disappointed.
Buy What’s the Buzz
Probably one of the most well known web apps out right now, Freedom allows you to block certain websites or the entire internet. What makes Freedom cool though is the scheduling feature. Say you know from 10 a.m. to noon every weekday you need complete internet silence. Well you can schedule it ahead of time in Freedom so you never have the temptation to do otherwise. For the weak-willed this is a perfect tool, you know until your focus-willpower gets stronger!
Book: The Dictionary
Yes I know, you need to know the definition or a synonym of this word. But, as soon as you type into Google what you’re looking for, down the rabbit hole you go. It’s too risky. That’s why I recommend an old-school print dictionary. Flip to the word you need and get back to work. No excuses!
Get a Merriam-Webster here
Not all tasks are worthy of focus. Emails and phone calls need to be taken care of. But, when these little distractions get implemented into bite sized chunks throughout your work day, the amount of distraction-free work time is diminished. Instead, schedule 20 minute batches throughout your day when you will check and send emails. A few of these allows you to quickly get into email mode and respond to everyone who needs responding to without compromising your focus. Batching tasks is also shown to increase productivity and reduce the stress of doing too many things at once. Of course, there’s no need to limit this to just email. If you can schedule meetings, then schedule them all back to back. If it’s getting coffee, then go ahead and batch in a restroom break and don’t forget to text your sweetie!
As much as possible think in terms of batching, so your focus time is truly focused.
Aid: Rishi Pu-erh Tea
Not a coffee person? Then try my favorite Rishi Tea. Pu-erh tea is especially earthy and bold and the variety from Rishi is excellent. Available in loose-leaf or in tea bags.
Buy Rishi Pu-erh Tea
For more posts on how to take control and get the most out of life, check out the rest of our blog! Let us know in the comments if any of these tools were useful for you!