Whether it be in your work or personal life, we all need some help staying focused.

It's the home stretch towards the end of the year. How can one stay focused during the 8-hour work day with so many distractions around us? Staying on track is critical to getting that project finished by deadline!

Have a favorite song? Music is an effective tool for becoming focused. It’s been shown to heighten attention and memory. Many athletes listen to a “pre-game song” to help them get in the zone. Pick a song you really like and make it your “Focus Song.” Every time you need to concentrate on a major task, listen to your song first while imagining your project successfully completed.

Put the smart phone away! It’s a major time waster, and most of us are at least somewhat addicted to it. Put it in a drawer (preferably in a different room) and set a timer for the amount of time you want to concentrate on one thing, say, an hour. Don’t touch that phone until the timer goes off.  Build up your resistance by increasing the length of time you keep the smartphone in the drawer. You’ll be astounded by how much more you can accomplish.

Avoid boredom. According to Olivia Fox Cabane (quoted in the Huffington Post), “IF we’re not stimulated after a short period of time, we look around for something that will do the job. This is true whether we’re reading a dull news story or involved in a conversation.” Instead of opening up your inbox or picking up the smartphone, stand up and stretch. Or look out the window for a minute. Scratching the “stimulation itch” will help you re-center on the task at hand.

Get your heart rate up. Rather than reach for the next cup of coffee, run in place for a minute, or do some jumping jacks. It’ll shake off feelings of sluggishness and boost oxygen to the brain.

Try a dose of vinegar. While there’s no scientific evidence between apple cider vinegar and health benefits, it will shock your system like a cold shower. Many people swear taking vinegar every morning increases your metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and cleanses your system.

Try peppermint, too. Peppermint flavoring has been shown to improve problem solving, boost comprehension, and aid memory.

Make it yellow. The color yellow has been proven to improve concentration. Briefly focus your attention on something yellow in your office while working on your task. (Try some yellow daisies or marigolds on your desk!)

Declutter your workspace. “Messy bed, messy head,” goes the old saying. It applies to your desk as well. Create an area that bolsters organization, not thwarts it.

Make a plan and stick to it. Even better, write down what you need to accomplish. If you set aside sixty minutes to work on a task, then work sixty minutes. Research shows that it takes ninety minutes to accomplish nearly anything challenging. Making and following a plan is a proven way to get a job completed..

Regina Iulo (EJB)