Focus Hacks

It happens to us all. We are working away, and then that email chime goes off. Two hours later we finally realize that we drifted off from the work we needed to do. I reached out to the entrepreneurial community to learn how they refocus on work after a distraction sets in. Here is what they shared:

1. Dance Like You Don’t Care
It’s easy to lose focus when you spend all day in a chair. Staring harder at the screen will not make you more productive! When this happens to me, I dance. I use Songza to find an energizing playlist, then I kick off my shoes and dance around the office for a song or two. I don’t care if I look silly. It works every time!
Thanks to Jessica Oman , Write Ahead
2. Make A To-Do List And Stick With It
I continuously update my extended to-do list, which is formatted like a calendar. I enjoy crossing things off the list as I get them done. Whether your to-do list is on paper or in a digital format, you need to build that list, keep it updated and stick with it. You won’t drift off into la-la-land when you see that you still have 23 specific things that need to get done before 5 p.m.!
Thanks to Mark McLaughlin , Results Marketing


3. Overcoming “The Blur”
As a creative person who is easily distracted I sometimes get overwhelmed with little details and my focus goes out the window. I call it The Blur – when whatever I had to do becomes a blur. My trick to overcoming it is to pick one thing to work on and and give it a time limit. For example, “I will work on this book cover design for thirty minutes only”, or “just until 3:00 o’clock”. When I’ve finished with the time limit I can do something else if I want to. Often by then I have re-focused.
Thanks to Wendy Dewar Hughes , Summer Bay Press


4. Purge, Merge In Order To Surge
Need to get back on track pronto? Purge your entire calendar for the rest of the day. Then bulk together common tasks left in the day and MERGE them together. Make all your calls back to back. Or go around and meet everyone you need to meet within a finite time block. Schedule it all and pay attention to the hard stops you’ve set. You’ll see a SURGE of productivity with this approach to the 2nd half of your day.
Thanks to Kenny Jahng , Big Click Syndicate LLC


5. Have A Tic-Tac
Give yourself a break, have a Tic-Tac or eat M&M’s.
Well really. None of us our going to die or have posted on the ol’ tomb-stone. “The Person who had the most focus is buried here” or “No OCD Lays Here”
Thanks to Rebekah Phelps , Extra You, LLC


6. Getting Refocused A La Kinect!

I usually work 12-14 hour days, and at times, talk to people from around the world in a passionate industry.

When my focus gets thrown off, I do the following:

I walk over to my Xbox.
I start playing Xbox Kinect.
Throw some kicks and punches in a workout game.
Break a sweat.
Mind is clear again, and I can focus.

I think it happens because I have more than 20 people talking to me at once, all the time. Work hard…play hard?

Thanks to Steven Lowell , Voice123


7. Prep And Prompt
Start the day with the most important project-not email & set out the project the day before so it is ready to go are good common prep tools. Consider working in power hours-50 minutes on the project, 10 minutes to check e-mail or return calls can help you get the most our of each hour. If the nature of your work means constant distraction, set an alarm or use something like the Firefox add on consciousness bell to ring every 30-60 minutes to recapture your attention & get back to the project.
Thanks to Susan Lannis , ORGANIZATION Plus! Inc.


8. Move My Laptop Back To The Office!
My interior design business is based out of my home, and sometimes I get lazy and bring out my notes and laptop in to the living room. Big mistake of course! With the cat running around, and T.V. on in the background, I get distracted every few minutes. Right around the time my laptop battery runs critically low, I move back to the office and get back on track.
Thanks to Joyce Leibowitz , Landis Interiors, LLC


9. Use The Bookending Method
To refocus in a hurry use a technique I call Bookending: Commit + Act + Report = Success. Commit to a buddy, or use the accountability chat on my site, what you’ll work on for the next 15 minutes. Do the task immediately after making the commitment. Lastly, report back that you did what you said you were going to do. Sounds simple, but it really works. And if you’ve farted your morning away and want to salvage the day, what do you have to lose? Try it.
Thanks to Rachel Z Cornell ,


10. Eliminate Shiny Objects!
To stay on focus and concentrate, I turn off any music, TV, and email/phone alerts. I even put in earplugs so I am laser focused!
Thanks to Haralee Weintraub , Haralee.Com Sleepwear


It goes back to our kindergarten days that made learning fun–picture stories, puzzles, Sesame Street, plays, and beyond…! Today, as an adult, and worse as an entrepreneur, we call similar creative stimulation: YouTube, Pinterest, Google, Mobile Apps, Hulu, iPad publishing, events, and millions similar, custom to their niche industries to motivate & stimulate research, productivity, and creative breaks to refocus on new ideas, competitors, and future branding. Pictures paint thousands of words
Thanks to Asha Spacek , UR FEW MEDIA, LLC / UR SUPERMODELS


12. Daily Lists
I use daily lists to keep me focused. The phone will always ring (we hope) and there will always be distractions. Keeping a list of the tasks each day will do 2 things; it is motivating to see items get crossed off the list as they get accomplished and it will draw your focus right back to the task at hand. Love lists!
Thanks to Dotty Scott , Premium Websites, LLC


13. Shake Your Booty
My one tip for getting refocused is to get up out of your chair and exercise your body and your mind. To reboot my creativity I go and open a junk drawer or look through my bookshelf- for new ideas, and to get my body moving I take my dogs out for a walk, or turn on some music and move around the office. After that I look at my task list, prioritize and choose the most pressing item and make sure I complete it. Throw a little fun into your work day when you can!
Thanks to Rachel Sentes , Gal-friday Publicity


14. Use A Timer
One of the best ways to stay focused is to get a timer and set a time limit on what you are going to do. This will then make you concentrate on your tasks and make you aware of the time that is being used for each one. You can then write down the time each task took and all add all of the times together to get an even better idea of how you used your time.
Thanks to Edwin Soler , Libreria Berea


15. You Got To Move It, Move It!
One of the best methods to refocus is to take a “transition walk” in which you clear your mind of whatever you were doing before in la-la-land and prepare for the task at hand. It’s a time for you to shift gears and get the blood pumping so you can mentally and physically focus. Take a pad of paper, a digital recorder, or your smart phone with the Dragon Naturally Speaking app on it to record your thoughts as you walk. Many a great idea is hatched during a timely ten-minute transition walk.
Thanks to Barnsley Brown , Spirited Solutions Speaking & Coaching


16. Shop Till YOU Drop
Working at home as a lot of entrepreneur’s do I find it most convenient to go to a mall and people watch. A good cup of McDonald’s senior coffee or a Starbuck’s double cuppa when my wife is in attendance helps me to refocus and sort out what I want to do when I get home.
Over a long period of time I have found when I change environments I am quite refreshed and my mind has had time to think of some new tactics. If all else fails I go on a trip and face the consequences when I return.
Thanks to JEFFREY BYER , Www.reminicents Penny Bracelet


17. Keep The Time In Front Of You
Distraction are easy. By having a large clock in front of you as well as your Outlook or Google Calendar up allows you the opportunity to leave those distractions as well as shorten them. I have large clock on the wall just above the computer monitor and I can easily see the seconds, minutes and hours ticking away. By keeping time in front of me, I can quickly spot when I am allowing distractions to suck my valuable time. You have total control of your mind. Make the most of it.
Thanks to Leanne Hoagland-Smith , ADVANCED SYSTEMS


18. Get Out Of The Office!
When I’m feeling unfocused or uninspired, I get out of the office and network with a contractor, colleague or even a friend who owns their own business. Discussing the projects they’re working on gives me inspiration for my own business and a fresh perspective. Sometimes, it just makes me feel better to hear that they face the same challenges that I do. And, if you live and work at home, a change of scenery can really help to stimulate your creativity!
Thanks to Debra Cohen , Home Remedies Of NY, Inc.


19. Eliminate Distractions With Time Blocking
It has greatly improved my ability to eliminate distractions with time blocking. I set time blocks throughout my day, 30 minutes or more at a time that no distractions are allowed.This keeps the real work flowing and the distractions to a minimum.
Thanks to Robin Gerhart , RLG Enterprises LLC


20. Top Three On Paper, And Meditate

Drop the coffee, getting up for food or clicking on yet another email.

Write down your top three priorities. Or, you can highlight the top three on your already-written list.

Then meditate or pray about the motive behind them. Why are they important? This will reinforce your mind and heart to stay focused.

Thanks to Pamela Hawley , UniversalGiving


21. Take A Break
I know this sounds silly, but anytime I find myself distracted, I get up and take a break. I’ll go grab a drink or play a game and totally clear my mind. That break allows me to forget about all the things going on and it refocuses me. It also gives me a burst of energy to get back into the flow of things. When I get back to my office, I’ll make a quick list of things that will catch me up.
Thanks to Michael LeJeune , Michael LeJeune Worldwide


22. Take Advantage Of Visuals
We are mostly visual people. Get the right prompts up in front of you to maintain focus on your targets. Use charts, pictures, quotes, and most importantly, get your definition of winning front and center as much as you can. Make sure your office or work location has plenty of visuals specific to what winning is to you/your team- target clients, revenue, services, etc. Organize your day around it. One of my favorite daily prompts: Of what you do today, what will matter a year from now?
Thanks to Holly Green , The Human Factor, Inc.


23. Turn Off All Mobile Devices
I find that during the day when it counts the most, my mobile devices go off. This is when I have to start turning off devices and focus on what I have to get done. If you turn off your phones, mobile devices and devote a certain amount of time to getting things done you will reach your goals.


24. My Top Priority
Coming back to reality, I focus on what’s most important to me and business at that given moment. Making up for lost time and, at lightning speed, I list all the associated tasks for the desired goal and begin achieving each one after the other. Should the delay be due to pesky tasks ahead, I list those and knock them out one after the other. In either case, I do not quit until the specific goal or list of tasks are accomplished. Perseverance and efficiency are essential for the Smooth Sale!
Thanks to Elinor Stutz , Smooth Sale


25. Refresh Your Mental Space
I find distractions are hard to avoid when I’m trying to work on too many things at once, so cleaning up my mental space is the first step to getting back on track to accomplishing priority tasks with ease & on time > Write a list of everything that needs to be done & then take a hot yoga class (run, Zumba class or any sort of all-encompassing mental exercise) to get my mind off everything except for the one task that needs to be finished. I also remove “to-do” paper pilse from my desk! #Sparkle
Thanks to Debbie Horovitch , Social Sparkle & Shine


26. The Pleasure And The Pain: Staying Focused
Flesh out each of your goals in as much detail as possible, what would you see, hear, and feel that’s proof a goal has been achieved. Then write out all the benefits you’ll gain by achieving each goal, and what will you lose by not achieving a goal. What feelings will you get by having the goal (secure, worthwhile, respected), and what feelings can you avoid by having it (desperate, rejected, isolated). Ultimately motivation is all about feelings, having the pleasure and avoiding the pain.
Thanks to Ronald Kaufman , Ronald Kaufman Consultancy



5 thoughts on “Focus Hacks”

  1. Hi Mike, I wanted to ask a question about something unrelated (you stated to contact you by commenting on one of your blog posts on your contact page). Im having a very hard time breaking a bad habit of taking way too long to do things, basically everything. As a new entrepreneur, this is definitely a detriment for me and im really trying to work on it but im having a lot of trouble because im a perfectionist and always want things done just right, and im just so afraid of not doing things right the first time around will lead to problems down the road but as you can probably imagine, this is counter intuitive and causing me much more harm then good. I wanted to see if you had any advice for me because i know you talk about Parkinsons law a lot and ive tried to apply that principle to everything im doing by putting specific deadlines on things but im just not able to commit to them because i always feel i need more time for one reason or the other. I mean is it just as simple as just turn my brain off, dont listen to what my mind is saying and just commit deadline, like no if and’s or but’s? Any tips on this? Thanks. Steve

    1. Hey Steve – Thanks for posting this question. The answer is NOT to change yourself. From my experience that is like asking my wife to wear sweatpants to a dinner date with friends. It just is gonna make everyone uncomfortable.
      Instead of changing your habits, we need to find a strategy that works for your natural disposition. Detail oriented is great, but only for some circumstances. So for the other things, try to determine what is the SMALLEST step forward you can take to have progress on that thing. In other words kick things off and do the detail in the small thing. Then break, come back and do the next. Small steps gets the task done and allows you to break and reduce your worry about doing it right.
      Hope that helps.

  2. Awesome tips. This happens many a times. I too get distracted easily and its tough to focus after that. I feel my biggest problem for focus is me being emotional by nature.

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