How to Beat Distractions and Find Your Focus

Reclaim your time and tackle that to-do list.

Ahh, home is where the ... distractions are.

With kids running around, household chores, your TV in sight or that small pile of projects you've been meaning to finish for ages, you might be finding it difficult to be productive these days. Couple that with social isolation, increasing levels of stress or anxiety and disruptions to your daily routine — and it only makes things more challenging.

With the right guidance, habits and support, you can regain focus, center yourself and accomplish more every day. Read on for tips to help you make the most of your time.

Work When You're at Your Best

If you have a major task to complete, tackle it when your energy levels are at their peak and when you perform at your best. For some it might be first thing in the morning, for others the quiet nighttime hours are best. Pay attention to when you feel most alert, focused and productive. Then, prepare yourself to get started and set a realistic deadline, which can add a touch of positive stress to motivate you. Reward yourself when you reach mini goals and major milestones as you go. If you're feeling overwhelmed, break up big projects into smaller tasks.

Stay Hydrated

You might already know that about 60% of your body and 73% of your brain are made up of water. But did you know that dehydration can affect your ability to concentrate and reduce your brain's processing power? To keep performing at your best, drink plenty of water throughout the day.

A good rule of thumb is to reach for water whenever you feel thirsty. You can also snack on hydrating fruits and vegetables, like watermelon, cucumbers and celery. Not sure if you're getting enough water? Use a healthy habit tracker or set reminders throughout the day.

Create a Schedule

Put a schedule in place to separate your work time from your leisure time. Communicate your schedule to those around you so they know not to interrupt you when you're trying to focus. Don't forget to factor in small breaks throughout the day to keep you feeling fresh. And, most importantly, make sure your schedule includes plenty of downtime. With the added challenges of the current health crisis, it's important to rest, recharge and maintain work-life balance — even when work situations have dramatically changed.

Keep It Moving

Want a quick way to boost your performance and focus? Get moving! Even short bursts of moderate exercise can improve your mood and your energy levels. Turn on an exercise video or, if you're able to, go for a brisk (socially distant) walk outside.

Become a Taskmaster

The "Ivy Lee method" has been around for over 100 years, but there’s a reason why it's still popular today. It works!

At the end of the day, write down your six most important tasks for the next day and rank them from most important to least important. In the morning, focus on your most important task and keep going until it’s finished. Then, keep moving down the list, one by one. Couldn't finish everything? Move any leftover items to the next day. Not only does this method help you avoid multitasking, as a bonus, it helps you clear your mind and unwind as you close out each day.

Turn It Up

If you share your home with others, consider wearing your headphones when you're trying to focus on a task. It filters out background noise and sends a message: do not disturb. Plus, music can boost your mood and make crossing things off your to-do list more fun!

Remember, We’re All in This Together

This is the first time many of us are experiencing a disruption on this scale. It's ok to have an "off day" or two. Take each day as it comes, and remember — we're all in this together. Ask loved ones, friends and colleagues how they're feeling. If you're able to help, offer to do so. Be kind to others and easy on yourself. We'll get through this by doing what we can and sticking together.