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4 tips to help you focus

By Lauren Dzubow,
Chronic multitaskers may not be able to focus on command.
Chronic multitaskers may not be able to focus on command.
  • We are programmed to pay attention to new stimuli, so get rid of all distractions
  • Set aside a few minutes to concentrate on just one challenging task
  • Step away from your desk every hour or so to clear your head

( -- With all the social media and technology these days, it can be a challenge to focus on getting your work done. Here's some tips on getting things accomplished.

Simplify your environment

Humans are biologically programmed to pay attention to new stimuli, says Maggie Jackson, author of "Distracted." At your computer, close superfluous windows, turn off Twitter, and disable automatic e-mail notification. Put unnecessary papers out of sight, and turn off your cell phone's ringer.

Build up your focus

Chronic multitaskers may have weakened their ability to focus, says Christine Hohlbaum, author of "The Power of Slow." Set aside a block of time -- even if it's just five minutes -- to deal with a mentally challenging task; once you accomplish that, extend the time further.

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Embrace discomfort

People often give up on difficult tasks in order to escape to something easier. "Any project that takes mental effort, or involves critical thinking and creativity, is going to be a little painful sometimes," says Jackson. When you hit a wall, don't point-and-click -- push past it. Break the multitasking habit one step at a time

Take breaks

Humans work in cycles; we can concentrate for a period of time but then need time to rest. Every hour or so, take a quick walk around the block, or just step away from your desk for a few minutes.

Share your tips on how to sharpen your focus and get important work down in the comment section below.

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