Four Reliable Techniques to Improve Focus Moving into the New Year

As we kick off a new year, many individuals and companies alike are starting to focus in on goals and what 2021 will look like in regards to personal and organizational growth. A new year is a wonderful time to reflect and hone in on what worked in the previous year and what might need a bit more fine tuning.

With most organizations across the U.S. still operating under a full or part time ‘work from home’ model, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals are stuck planning in the comforts of their own home. Gone are the days of long white boarding sessions with catered lunch and a collaborative group setting. Replaced with long webcast meetings and continuous presentations of PowerPoint slides, leaving everyone experiencing ‘Zoom fatigue’ and plenty of opportunities for minds to wander.

Focus is a key ingredient to productivity and having a dynamic start to the year is an important factor into an exciting and successful annual plan. Steve Jobs once said, “Focus and simplicity…once you get there, you can move mountains”, so let’s dive a bit deeper into four techniques that can help you, your team, and your company improve focus moving into the New Year.

  1. Bundle Tasks

  • Group tasks in a creative way to minimize the cost of ‘switching gears.’ For example, start by grouping tasks by location in which they need to be performed or ones that involve similar topics. If you know your creativity is at the highest levels in the morning, try blocking out creative time in the first half of your day and push more mundane tasks to after lunch.
  • Focus is lost when you shift topics too quickly, so it is wise to stay locked in on one category of a task at a time. According to research in the psychological review framework, ‘A Computational Theory of Executive Cognitive Processes & Multiple-Task Performance’, shifting tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s time[1]. 
  1. Take Breaks with the Pomodoro Technique

  • The Pomodoro Technique is a time blocking technique that allows for breaks, while also keeping the integrity of flow state. The cycle begins by working for twenty-five consecutive minutes with one five-minute break in between. You can use these cycles to break up daunting tasks that seem too difficult to start. Commit to at least one cycle on your most difficult tasks and you might find that you make more progress than expected.
  • An online tool used to help individuals utilize the Pomodoro Technique is a twenty-five minute timer found at linked below.

Pomodoro Technique

  1. Micro-meditate

  • Meditating for three seconds is a great way to reinvigorate focus when you find yourself getting side-tracked. Researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center claim meditating can change the structure and function of the brain through relaxation, which can inherently improve focus and learning concentration.[2]
  • The easiest way to micro-meditate is to start by closing your eyes and quieting your thoughts for three seconds. Focus on a single breath and bring your attention to the present moment. Once complete, open your eyes and jump at the chance to get your focus back on track.
  1. Journal Two Sentences Each Week

  • Journaling is a proven technique to help center one’s thoughts and priorities. Easily increase focus through written sentences that outline your weekly high and low points. Once a month, take two minutes to review the past month’s journal and identify what worked best and what to avoid in the future.
  • Automate a reminder via a phone app to prompt you at the same time each day to record these journals for best results and to prioritize reflection. Taking the time to review these journal entries can help stimulate grow and provide a strong sense of direction, helping to improve focus along the way.

Here at Strive Consulting, we foster an active, innovative culture, providing the coaching, mentoring, and support our employees need to work at the top of their game and succeed, personally and professionally. Understanding that COVID-19 has been challenging on all parties involved in the workplace, Strive is here to provide guidance and assist in any way we can – we believe success is imminent when focus is a key driver.

Looking to know more? Strive Consulting is dedicated to being your partner, committed to success.