We know that all you want to do is kick back and relax as the summer approaches. After all, the weather’s warmer, the sun’s out and the last thing on your mind is doing more work under those fluorescent office lights.
Not so fast! Late spring is one of the best times to go full-steam ahead on your goals and to-dos, especially before summer hits and your mind turns to spending all of your time outdoors. But how do you stay focused heading into the summer months? We’ve got 10 actionable ideas to help you out.
1. Listen to Motivating Music or Podcasts
When we say motivating music, we don’t mean your favorite Spotify playlist of top 40 hits. Instead, did you know there are certain sounds that are scientifically proven to make you a more productive worker? The next time you need to get down to business, turn on a track with nature sounds in the background or a song without lyrics. The trick is to play music that simulates white noise—a happy, moderate buzz in the background while you work.
2. Turn Off Distractions
Use the Self Control App on your desktop to keep you from checking Facebook all day, and turn off push notifications on your phone so you won’t be tempted every time your phone buzzes. You really don’t need to know right this moment who liked your latest Instagram post.
3. Keep a Snack Nearby
When you’re trying to get work done, it’s easy to lose track of time and forget to fuel your body. Our advice? Keep a variety of nutrient-rich snacks on hand so you don’t get tempted to snack on foods that’ll make you tired and sluggish or leave your desk to spend half of your day in the office kitchen.
4. Try the Pomodoro Technique
We’re sure you’ve heard of every productivity hack under the sun, but here’s why we love the Pomodoro Technique: It’s all about long but manageable periods of focus followed by short breaks to give you ample time to relax.
To try it, set a timer for 25 minutes and focus only on one specific task. When the timer goes off, take a five minutes break, and then reset that timer. For every four “Pomodoros” you get through (i.e. 100 minutes, or roughly an hour and 40 minutes), give yourself a longer 20-minute break. Trust us: You’ll be surprised how much you get through when you’re not straining to stay focused for hours on end or procrastinating to the point where no work gets done.
5. Keep Your To-Do List Short (or Try Bullet Journaling!)
There’s nothing more intimidating out there than a mile-long to-do list. Seriously, when’s the last time you felt motivated to move through your work when you knew you had 47 things left to do?
Instead, try this approach: Cut your to-do list down to the biggest and baddest priority at the top of the list, followed by two or three things that are important, and then two or three more things that are less critical. By slashing your to-dos to must-dos, your psyching yourself up by actually giving yourself a real shot to get through your list.
Another way to get through your to-do list? Try a bullet journal, which allows you to create interesting and customized to-do lists every day.
While some people think meditation is useless, studies say otherwise, showing that the practice is helpful in lowering blood pressure, decreasing stress, and lowering pain levels. And on the mental side of things, meditating is a great way to get in the zone quickly.
You don’t need to sit on the mat and say “ommmm” over and over (that’d probably annoy your co-workers, right?), but taking time to quiet your mind and hone in on the task at hand is a surefire way to get focused. If you need help, try out an app like Headspace.
7. Adjust the Thermostat
Fun fact: One study Helsinki University of Technology in Finland found that the supposedly “perfect” temperature for workplace productivity is 71 degrees Fahrenheit (or 21 degrees Celsius).
Even if you like it a little warmer or colder than that, the point is that a room’s temperature affects you more than you think. We know you may not have control over the thermostat at work, but now you know to bring a sweater or a fan just in case!
What do Steve Jobs and John F. Kennedy have in common? They were notorious doodlers. Often we associate doodling with something you should only do as a child, but mindlessly allowing you brain to wander is actually incredibly helpful for getting yourself focused and ready to work. It’s also a great tool for problem solving.
9. Drink Enough Water
While you don’t necessarily want to drink so much water that you’re sprinting to the bathroom every 20 minutes, staying hydrated is critical to keeping your brain functioning as you make it through your day.
10. Delete All of Those Pesky Emails
There’s a reason why there are so many books and blogs and articles about removing clutter: It really clears out your mind! If you’re like most 21st century workers and spend half of your day in your email inbox, take the time to actually organize, delete, and archive your messages. That “No new mail!” banner is one of the gr8est sights.
How are you going to stay focused this spring? Let us know in the comments below!