How to Really Focus on Your Work

Have you ever had a ton of stuff to do on your task list, but can't seem to get any of it actually done?

It's a common feeling. I feel it myself from time to time. I have these big projects I want to spend more time on, but distractions and other smaller projects keep getting in the way. Or maybe you're a student and you have a big test coming up, but you keep procrastinating instead of studying for it.

Sometimes we need to really, truly focus on our work.

We start to realize that we need no distractions. Maybe you have tried some of these techniques before:

  • Going to a coffee shop to work instead of your office or home.
  • Hiding your cell phone for a stretch of time.
  • Disconnecting your WiFi or enabling an app like Freedom to deter online activity.
  • Asking your colleagues or roommates to "leave you alone" for a stretch of time while you work.
  • Having a work or study session with a friend to keep you accountable.

All of these techniques can be really helpful. But why? 

Cal Newport calls it the skill of "deep work." When we allow ourselves to focus and spend time really engaging in deep work, we get more done. We're more productive and creative. We feel accomplishment from our work sessions, instead of wondering where all of our time went. I have had several recent session of deep work and I am amazed at what I can accomplish during them.

It makes perfect sense to focus on our tasks, but our world has become so distracting. 

It can take awhile to work yourself up to big sessions of deep work. I recommend trying the Pomodoro Technique to get yourself started. Spend 25 minutes completely undistracted on your task. Whatever you need to do to get rid of those distractions (see the list above). You can build up your time in increments. Soon you'll be spending 90 minutes engaged in deep work.

So what has helped you focus on deep work before? What can you commit to right now for focusing? 

Tell us below in the comments so we can share ideas!