In my last post, I explained why focus is so important to become successful and how you can get 2 hours and 15 minutes more per day. In addition to that, in this post I will give you 7 tips that helped me to achieve a better focus over time.

Before I give you these tips, I want you to explain my situation and why I definitely needed to think about how I can improve my focus: In my post about working abroad, I explained that I tend to overschedule a lot. The problem with overscheduling is, that I squeeze a lot of appointments, to-do’s and other confessions in a day. With this I pressurize myself because I want to check off all to-do’s.

Often, I just tried to check off my list, to get a positive feeling. On days, I didn’t achieve to check off all to-do’s I have set, I felt miserable. I struggled with myself, because I thought that I am not able to achieve something, when I am even not able to check off the things on my list. It took me a lot of time to see that this was the wrong approach. Instead of busying myself all day, I start learning to determine, what is truly important to me and for the fulfillment of my goals.

It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?

Henry David Thoreau

Often I busied myself with doing something instead of defining what I can do to get me further. The main problem with busying myself was, that I can’t focus on one task at a time. In the back of my mind I always had other things going on, which distracted me to do my task. To help you to avoid doing the same mistakes: I thought about the top seven things that help me to improve my focus in times I feel unfocused.

1. Reduce the sources of input

There are days on which I scroll through different feeds, watch tv, read a magazine, talk to a friend who tells me a story and walk through a city full of advertisements. At the end of such days, I feel kind of wasted. The reason why, is that my brain has to process loads of different information and although I don’t consciously think about this information, my mind is still occupied by processing what I have experienced. As I told you, with an occupied mind focusing on one task only is extremely difficult.

For me, it helped a lot to quit my RSS reader, limit the time I spend on social media and watching TV. Although, this isn’t for everyone, I can highly recommend this to anyone out there. Reduce the noise in your brain and calm yourself with avoiding unnecessary information.

2. Clear your mind/meditate

As I told you in my post about working abroad, I started meditating in the middle of the year. At no point I regret this decision and here is why: Meditating helps me to become more aware of the noise that is going on inside of me and even better, I can start to find the source of noise and calm it.

Simply said: meditating is hands down one of the best methods to increase your focus. It is all about focus. As soon as I start meditating I begin focusing on myself. With doing this, I definitely will become better in focusing. But not only focusing on meditation, but also focusing in general. I train my mind to focus, when I need it. This is exactly what you want, when you try to shape your own laser-like focus.

3. Set reachable goals

This one is exactly the opposite to overscheduling a day. Instead of trying to fit as much as possible in a day, I make a quick review what I want to achieve the next day. In this review, I overthink the next day and define what my main goals are. This means, I define about 2-3 major things to work on (with breaks between them) and 3-5 minor things, I have to do.

Here important: don’t go crazy in the beginning. You will see that you will become better in focusing over time and with this, you can put more in a day. But first, you should try to set only a few tasks for a day. The reason is, that you will create motivation to keep things going, once you have achieved a goal you wanted. What I also started doing is, that I set up short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals help me to define the way I want to go until the next milestone. Long-term goals define what I want to achieve in the future.

4. Challenge yourself

In the last point I explained that you should set reachable goals and although you might think that this sounds like the exact opposite, it isn’t. Actually, it correlates just fine with setting reachable goals. It is uncomfortable to act outside of my comfort zone, but it is also the point, where I grow the most. Therefore, I try to push myself to the limits and sometimes even further.

The combination between setting reachable goals and challenging myself is perfect. I try to work at the border of my comfort zone, to expand my flexibility and confidence. Also, I get a lot of motivation, when I achieve something difficult. This momentum helps me to keep things going. Another crucial thing is,  that on days I recognize I got some mental bandwidth left, I use the rest of it to challenge myself. For example, I start reading a book, writing a blog post or listening to a podcast.

5. Set priorities

As I explained in the last two points, it is important to challenge yourself. But still, you should have the chance to achieve what you want (for your intrinsic motivation, your ego, your confidence etc.) This is the point where prioritizing should come in. I put things first that use a lot of my mental bandwidth. After I did them (successfully), I start to do things that don’t use this much of my mental bandwidth.

A practical example for this is learning for my studies before checking my social media. The reason for this order is that I want to make sure, that I use my full focus and mental bandwidth while learning. With that, I make sure that I will get the best results!

6. Pause

On the other end of the spectrum how I can improve my focus is to pause correctly. Pausing means stop in the middle of the process, to get a different point of view. Sometimes, this is exactly what I need to get refocused again. It is like a restart for my focus, when I do it without distraction or disruption. Breathe in, close your eyes for a second and restart your focus on a task!

7. Unfocus

I can’t and don’t want to focus all the time. This is the reason why my last tip how to improve your focus is to unfocus. The feeling I get when I recognize that my mental bandwidth is gone, is the point where I allow myself to unfocus. I learnt, that on such days, forcing myself to focus harms more than it is useful. Therefore, unfocusing is crucial to avoid getting tired of focusing all the time and to achieve a new laser-like focus again!

After I told you my top 7 tips to increase my focus on something, I want to know from you what your tips are.

Let me know your answers in the comment section down below!