7 Tips for Staying Focused and Strengthening Your Will

We all know that feeling of needing to complete an important task within a given time frame, like writing a final school paper or finishing an important work presentation, yet being unable to stop our mind from wandering aimlessly into the most random and unhelpful directions.

We sit in front of our computer screens thinking: What should I have for lunch? Did I put on deodorant this morning? Should I take my dog to the vet this week? Then we shake ourselves awake and try to focus yet again. Do you find yourself doing this all throughout the day? Do you have issues staying focused? If so, you're not the only one.

Why is it that our minds can't seem to stay put on the subject at hand, especially during crunch time situations where time is of an essence, and can we do anything to help it? It's completely normal to become distracted from time to time; however, if lack of focus happens too often or starts interfering with our ability to work or complete regular daily functions, then we have to recognize it as a big problem.

If we can't focus on work and complete our workload, we may get fired, which can have very negative consequences for the rest of our life. Sometimes it's the obvious things that are responsible for our lack of focus, like not enough sleep, low energy due to lack of food, feeling sick or depressed. We can try to remedy those. Other times we may not be sure what lays behind our lack of focus.

Whatever the reason, there are some things you can do to improve your focus and productivity throughout the day.

What Is Focused and a Strong Will?

In order to accomplish tasks, whether it's getting groceries or finding the cure for cancer, you need to be able to focus and commit to a goal. You need a drive and self-control to remain on a path for something that takes a while to accomplish. People who have more willpower and focus tend to do better in their personal and professional life. Meanwhile, a lack of willpower can lead to depression, weight gain, and financial woes. 

Willpower is essential in many areas of life. For example, in order to have a fit and healthy body, you need the willpower to resist the temptation of overindulging in food and the willpower to exercise a certain amount of times weekly. Willpower is self-control. Scientists see willpower as being able to delay gratification and override thoughts and unwanted impulses.

Woman thinking and staying focused

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Focus and strong will go hand in hand. In order to focus, you need a strong will. We all have curious minds that love to deter our attention in different directions all day long. It takes a strong willpower to keep our mind reigned in and focused for a given amount of time.

Effects of Staying Focused and Strong Will

Staying focused and having a firm resolve are very helpful in every single area of life. From work to relationships, to children, and everything else, being able to stay on track is beneficial. These traits are what successful people use in order to achieve their long-term goals. If Steve Jobs sat around and let himself get distracted every 10 minutes, we'd never have Apple products.

Not being able to focus means you are not being productive. If you're not productive at work or at home, and you're not on vacation, then you've got a real problem. It's hard to get goals accomplished or make your personal and professional dreams come true when you're technically just wasting time. 

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If staying focused and having a strong will are not your forte, rest assured knowing that these are traits you can work on and improve with time. If you find yourself at work with hours just ticking on by as you're watching the clock, and wondering why you're not getting anything productive done, check out the 7 tips below on staying focused and strengthening your willpower.

7 Ways to Stay Focused and Strengthen Willpower

It's amazing what you can accomplish when you keep your brain resources focused on one singular task. Unfortunately, you'll never know the power you possess or how much you can actually get done in a day if you keep allowing yourself to become distracted and unfocused. If these problems sound familiar to you, read these 7 tips on staying focused while working:

Have a "To-Do" List Handy

Writing down a list of the things you need to do lets you visualize everything you have to focus on. It also helps save you from worrying that you've forgotten to finish something. You have a visual trail of what needs to be done, and what has already been completed. A pro tip is organizing the list in terms of priority and importance. Tasks that need to be done right away will be placed on top of the list while things that can wait longer go at the bottom of the list.

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You Don't Have to Be the King/Queen of Multitasking

We mistakenly think that we can get more done by doing multiple things at once. That couldn't be further from the truth. What actually ends up happening is we take longer to do each task, and we don't do it as well as we could have because we end up too overwhelmed and overstimulated to focus properly. Instead of starting every task your given all at the same time, figure out what needs to be done first and knock your tasks off one by one.

Get More Exercise

Many of us might think exercise has nothing to do with staying focused or having willpower. Turns out, that's false. Exercise isn't just good for your six-pack, it also promotes your brain health. Scientists believe that exercise helps with concentration and memory. So don't forget your morning jog or yoga class in order to be more productive during the day.

Take Multiple Breaks

It might sound counterproductive to step away from your work, but taking small breaks every hour has been scientifically proven to improve focus. Like a laptop, your brain needs a reset every once in a while, or it starts freezing and zoning out. Take a walk outside, get some water, grab a snack, or simply watch a YouTube video for a few minutes in order to give your brain a fresh start.

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Train Your Brain

It sounds silly, but your brain is just another muscle in your body. The more you train it, the more effective it becomes at its job. And just like a puppy, the more you let it wonder, the more unruly it gets. So do some brain exercises like puzzles or online quizzes to help you keep your brain active and running.

Get Sleep

This one is so old and obvious that you're probably rolling your eyes, yet it has to be stated. A tired mind is a useless mind. Staying focused and giving a work task your best effort requires sleep and rest; otherwise, your body is operating on a lower battery percentage. Lack of sleep results in a lack of concentration and your day going to waste.

Set a Time Limit

If you give yourself unlimited time to complete a task, chances are it won't get done. Don't allow yourself the whole day to do a task that can be done in an hour or two. You will keep dilly-dallying, and you might not even get around to finishing the said task within that day because you've set out such a generous time limit. If you want to stay focused, give yourself a reasonable amount of time, and complete your task within that time frame, every single time. This trains your brain to follow a time schedule and not give in to outside distractions.

Conclusion

Staying focused in our day and age can be extremely difficult.  We have an unlimited amount of constant distractions like our iPhone screens, YouTube, and Instagram as well as a slew of other entertaining apps. In order to concentrate and get stuff done during the day, we need to find ways to unplug and focus on the task at hand. It's not always easy, but with some training it is possible.

Man determined and focused

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The key things to keep in mind are to have a plan, write it out, and stick to it throughout the day. You can also divide your plan into smaller tasks and give yourself time to complete each task within a given time limit. Remove all distractions, such as phone or television, and when you start to feel your willpower go out the window, look at the plan you've written out and get yourself back on track.

Remember, focus and willpower are like muscles to control staying focused. If you start exercising them on smaller tasks, you will be able to move onto bigger ones and get through them with more ease. Stick to the suggestions above, and you will quickly notice an increase in both abilities as long as you continue to practice.

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