Tools for Staying Focused and Getting Stuff Done

1. Pay attention to your normal escape behaviors – and manage them. Escape behaviors are those things you do to alleviate the stress or boredom that crops up whenever you have to work on a specific task or assignment.

2. Take a Technology Time Out. Before sitting down to work, silence all non-essential apps, close all programs and windows other than the one you’ll be using, and turn off all phone alerts. Seriously.

Remind yourself that you can look at these things when you’re taking a longer break (see the following tip), but not before.

3. Reward Your Brain with Structured Breaks. Many people think that in order to be productive, they have to work for several hours straight without stopping. This is neither true, nor ideal.

It’s actually easier to stay on task when there is a concrete end, or break in sight. Create a realistic schedule of work alternating with breaks. 

4. Make a SMART List of your goals for the next day. Do this at night before you go to bed.

It’s a “smart” list because both the list – and the goals on it – are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-restricted. 

Give yourself no more than 5 minutes to jot down your goals. This means that you can’t obsess about them or go down a rabbit hole of looking things up, and so forth.

5. Plan for External Distractions. For example, we have three dogs, and if they are awake, they are barking – at a squirrel outside, to go for a walk, when they are hungry, and so forth. We’ve learned that they are less barky during the day if they have a decent morning walk, have eaten well, and have gotten their morning treats (I know…). 

6. Add Binaural Beat Technology to Your Toolbox. Binaural beat technology (BBT) is a type of brainwave entrainment that uses auditory tones to shift one’s predominant brainwave state into something more appropriate or relevant to the task at hand. 

How does BBT work? When tones of different frequencies are played in each ear, the brain will hear the difference between these tones, rather than hearing each one separately.

7. Release Resistance and Be in the Now. Surrender to the fact that right now, you probably will not find yourself working in the same way as you did previously. 

8. Do Your Best, and Be Kind to Yourself. Remember, all anyone can do is their best at any given moment. Human beings are resourceful and adaptable and resilient. It’s how we’ve survived as a species. But adapting to something new is a process.