How to Stay Focused and Accomplish Any Task

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Have you ever started your work day or project focused and ready to succeed just to find yourself thinking about something that has nothing to do with what you are working on a few minutes later? 

Maybe you have a goal that you intended to accomplish just to see it fade because you were unable to stay focused.  We all have an issue with staying focused at some point or another.

Recently, I’ve had a hard time staying focused.  My lack of focus has cost me to be ridiculously unproductive.  After a few good months of high productivity and accomplishment, the last few weeks have been a bust.

It seemed no matter what I was doing, I felt as though I should be doing something else.  If I was writing, I felt like I should be getting some exercise.  If I was exercising I would be thinking about how long it’s been since I hung out with some of my friends.  If I was out with friends then I was thing about how much writing I needed to get done.  It was endless.

I was unable to focus on the tasks at hand because I was always thinking about something else.  To combat my lack of concentration, I began multitasking which turned out to be an even bigger disaster.  Even though my multitasking made me feel as though I was accomplishing a lot, the truth is I was accomplishing less.

I took a look at my life and I knew that I had to make a change.  After experimenting with different methods, I found a combination of techniques that helped me get my focus back.

The Affects of Task Switching

Being able to multitask is sometimes seen as a sign of productivity.  We often marvel at the person who is able to answer emails, create spreadsheets, talk on the telephone, and eat lunch at the same time.  This type of superhuman juggling is sometimes seen as a sign of productivity.   But according to research, that may not be the case.

Our minds are not able to focus on many things at once.  Instead, when we ‘multitask’ we are actually quickly switching from one to another.  In a study done by The National Academy of Sciences, researchers tested young and senior subjects on their ability to perform a memory task as well as solving simple equations.  The study revealed a cost in accuracy and latency when task switching when compared to performing each task alone.

I recently got an email from a reader that asked for some advice on how to stay focused.  He described the goals he wanted to accomplish.  His goals were honorable but the problem was there were too many of them.  I advised him to narrow his goals down to the most important ones.  Once he was able to do accomplish those, the smaller goals would soon follow with ease.

Many of us have this same problem with our productivity task.  I used to be notoriously proud of my ability to multitask until I realized how more effective I was when I put my full focus on the task at a time.

Staying Focused and Accomplishing Any Task

Stay Focused From the Inside-Eating the right foods can help your mind and body cooperate with your desire to stay focus.  There are certain foods that can help you stay focused. Your brain is about 80% water so proper water intake can have a great effect on mental clarity and well-being.  Also, Omega-fatty acids that are found in fish and supplements are good for blood circulation and brain development.


Have a Clear Vision-When we want to accomplish something it is important to understand why we want to accomplish it in the first place.  Make sure that the purpose is clear to you or else you will lose motivation to achieve your goal.  You may want to have a list of your goals posted up where you can see them.  You may want to create a board with pictures on it that represent your goals.

Create a Master Plan-One of the methods that I use to get a job done is to create a master plan that I can refer to.  I use the plan primarily to stay focused on long-term goals.  When I plan my daily or weekly goals, I am sure that I include the task and the time allotted for the task.

A master plan also works well for long accomplishing long term goals also.  Writing down your goals is a good way to stay focused on them but by mapping how you intend to accomplish them increases your chances of success.

Remove Distractions-If you are working on the computer, it is very easy to get distracted.  Yahoo, Youtube, and Facebook are only a click away.  That is why it is important to remove those distractions while working.  I like to close all windows except the ones that I need to finish my task.

If your goals are long- term, eliminate the things in your life that distract you.  For example, If you have a friend the influences you I to move away from your goal, it is time to limit your association.  Once you are able to remove the distractions, you will have fewer obstacles between you and your goals.

Setup Your Own Boundaries-Setting up your own boundaries is a great way of preventing yourself from wandering outside of chosen path. That may mean that you change your IM status to “unavailable”.   It may also mean that you have to turn off your mobile phone.

Setting up boundaries is absolutely necessary for staying focused on long-term goals.  Boundaries will help maintain the habits that are necessary for accomplishing goals that require a consistent dose of discipline.

For example, if you are trying to lose weight there may be certain things that are off limits. If you can’t resist getting a cheesecake after dinner at your favorite restaurant, then you may have to ban yourself from that restaurant in order to prevent yourself from cheating on your diet.


Create a Focus Mantra
A focus mantra is something that you say a few times a day that will help you remember to stay focused on the task at hand.  Your mantra can be something that you create that will help you or it can be a quote from someone else.  Here are a few quotes that I have used as my personal mantra at one time or another.

1. “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to focus.”- Alexander Graham Bell

2. “Concentration is the secret of strength”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

3. “The first requisite for success is to develop the ability to focus and apply your mental and physical energies to the problem at hand – without growing weary.”-Thomas Edison

4. “Focus 90% of your time on solutions and only 10% of your time on problems.”-Anthony J. D’Angelo


Recruit a Focus Friend-Even with all of these measures in place; we may still be susceptible to distractions.  When this happens, it is time to get some help.  Find someone who can hold you accountable for staying on task.  You may ask them to call you at certain times to make sure that you are on task.  Or perhaps they can send you a text message of your focus mantra. 

Your Focus friend is your accountability partner that will help you stay on track when everything else attempts to distract you.  Having someone there that can catch you when you fall or that can prevent the fall altogether is priceless.

How do you stay focused on your tasks?

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