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7 Ways to Sharpen Your Focus and Increase Productivity

7 Ways to Sharpen Your Focus and Increase Productivity


Lack of focus, bad habits and torrents of media distract us from achieving our goals. Many strive to produce more by eliminating these distractions. Try the following tactics to increase productivity and discover the methods that work best for you.



1. Declutter–Minimize

We all succumb to distractions, often unconsciously.  Living a minimal life helps declutter space and reduces hindrances to achieving goals.  Our mental space naturally opens when we declutter our physical spaces. Less cluttered environments facilitate greater focus.


The creator of Ugmonk demonstrated how decluttering his desk made him more productive. After decluttering our physical spaces, removing counter-productive and unnecessary behavior frees up time to do positive things. 



2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation possesses scientifically demonstrable benefits. Forbes lists these scientifically proven benefits: reduced anxiety, reduced implicit age and race bias, depression prevention and treatment, improved cognition and body satisfaction.


Decreasing anxiety and improving cognition aide increased productivity. Further, mindfulness improves focus. Author of the bestseller, Sapiens, Yuval Harari, credits his abilities and success to meditation. “When you train the mind to focus on something like the breath,” Harari says in an interview with Ezra Klein, “it also gives you the discipline to focus on much bigger things and to really tell the difference between what’s important and everything else.”



3. Deep Work

Cal Newton’s books offer strategies for mitigating wasted time and boosting productivity. In his book Deep Work, Newton suggests scheduling your entire day in blocks of time. He recommends scheduling each hour of the day in your notebook or planner. Use pencil so you can easily erase and adjust your schedule. Spend your best hours (whenever you have the most energy) doing the most important and intensive work. Newton insists doing this decreases total working hours and increases free-time.



4. S. Covey’s Four Quadrant System:

Author of the famous self-help book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, devised a quadrant system for time management. The four-quadrant system delegates any activity into one of four categories:

  1. Important and urgent
  2. Important but not urgent
  3. Urgent but not important
  4. Not urgent and not important.


The goal is to spend most of our time in quadrant two, planning for things that are important before they become urgent. We often slip into the first quadrant because important things can easily become urgent without proper planning. Analyzing how we spend time forces us to be aware when we waste it.



5. Sleep

Many people don’t get enough sleep. Over 1 in 3 Americans get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night according to The Center for Disease Control. Adequate sleep has many benefits. It gives us more energy, improves our mood, boosts creativity, improves memory and makes us better problem solvers. These benefits also all promote higher productivity.



6. Exercise

Make sure you exercise! Studies show that exercise provides many of the same benefits we get from adequate sleep. Experts even propose that exercising is a part of your job. They argue that reaching one’s potential is impossible without it. Choose an activity you enjoy rather suffering through exercise that you hate.



7. Checklists

You’ve read this list, now make your own. Checklists help us keep track what we need to do and requires us to see the unchecked items when we don’t complete our tasks. Incorporate your to-do lists when you schedule your day. Also, consider using checklists as recommended in The Checklist Manifesto. The book promotes using checklists to get things right the first time, saving time and money resulting in higher productivity!