This world is full of distractions. Successful people must figure out how to take control of their minds, sharpen their focus, and give their attention fully to a single task. It’s no easy feat. The good news is that there are a variety of systems, strategies, and methods for creating better focus. And sometimes the most helpful tools for focus are sitting right there in front of us. Here are 5 simple tools for better focus that you might not know about, you might have forgotten about, or you might not be using to their fullest potential.
- The Alarm on Your Smartphone: It’s for more than just getting out of bed in the morning. I once had a goal to drink more water during the day, but I always forgot about it in the midst of all the hundreds of other things I was doing. So I set four alarms evenly spaced throughout the day, and I labeled each alarm with creative titles like “Get hydrated!” and “H20 time!” This helped me create a healthy habit. I also use the alarm to remind me of appointments, meetings, and calls.
- Your Calendar: Especially your digital calendar. If you’re old school and still use the pen and paper kind, it might be time to upgrade. When I think of a task I need to accomplish, but say, I’m at the grocery store, I pull out my phone and enter the task into my calendar on whatever day I need to do it. If I put a specific time and day on the task, it’s much easier to get it done. It’s a great place to enter project deadlines, appointments, and travel details—even reminders to take out the trash or file taxes or practice a skill you’re working on.
- The Folders on Your Desktop: I’ll admit that I’m not naturally the most organized person in the world, but using desktop folders is an easy to organize the chaos. It seems obvious, but there was a time when I would open my laptop to a smattering of hundreds of file icons on my desktop, and when I needed to find something specific, I panicked. Keep no more than about 10 folders on your desktop. Choose the main sections you can divide your files into, for instance, “Work,” “Photos,” “My Newsletter,” and “My Book in Progress.” And then break each of the main folders down into smaller folders as needed. Those smaller folders may need even smaller folders.
- Google Drive: Having a drive I can access online from any computer anywhere is pretty cool. I don’t have to carry around an external drive, and I can create documents within it, without a need for Word or Excel. I can organize all my documents into folders (like on my desktop), and what’s more I can share them easily with others. If I’m working on a project with a collaborator, they can easily go into an editing mode and suggest edits, which I can see in real-time, without being in the same room as them. I can turn files into PDFs and download them as well. I can also upload large files (docs, music files, movies, etc.) and share a link so that it can be downloaded by someone else, publicly or privately.
- Your Lungs: Sometimes nothing else does the trick. No matter how well I’m organized and how good my intentions are, focus is hard to find. It’s these times where I really benefit from taking long, deep breaths. As basic and simple as it sounds, it’s easy to forget. But it can make a big difference.
“Do the very best you can.” –Dale Carnegie