November 5, 2018, by John

5 ways to focus

We all want to work hard. But too often, things get in the way. After 5 minutes of working, a buzz from our phones distracts us. Before too long, we have realised that 30 minutes have passed scrolling through yet another cat video on Facebook. Here are 5 ways to make it easier.

1. Work in 25-minute blocks.

This is one of the most effective ways towards increasing your focus. Called the Pomodoro Technique, it acknowledges that humans are not robots and we cannot focus forever. Start your stopwatch for 25 minutes. After working for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break. It can be a simple walk outside the library, a cup of coffee, or a break in the washroom. You will return to your work recharged, and ready to rumble.

2. Put your phone far, far, far away.

Our phones are possibly the worst companions to have whilst studying. They buzz, and try to grab our attention in every possible way. Social media apps like Facebook and Instagram are designed to be addictive. Have you ever thought about how the scroll to refresh button seems like a jackpot lever, designed to give you yet another rush of dopamine, and keep you glued to your screen? Keep your phone in a place where you cannot reach it. Even better still, if you are heading off for one of your study sessions, keep it at home.

3. Listen to Mozart.

The Mozart effect, where there is an enhancement in brain activity and focus when classical music is played in the background, has been researched and evidenced by many studies, such as Lesuik (2005). In Lesuik’s study of developers from Canadian software companies, she found that quality of work and positive effect were lowest, and time spent on the task was longest for those who were not listening to any music.

4. Work where others are working.

There’s nothing more motivating than seeing others around you working hard. Whether this be at the library, the common room, it’s hard not to feel guilty slacking when others are working hard.

5. Set out three goals for the day.

J.D. Meier, a former Microsoft employee, developed this system as a way for his staff to be more productive. His book ‘Getting Results the Agile Way’ might be something you want to

check out to find out more. Before you start the day, set out three goals for what you want to attain. This brings incredible focus to your day, allowing you to say no to things that do not matter. More importantly, it allows you to hold yourself to account. At the end of the day, you get to ask yourself: did I finish what I set out to do?

I hope these tips helped in making it easier to focus on work. But rather than seeing work as something to get out of your way, it would be useful to get stuck in, and enjoy the process, as much as the result.

John regularly blogs at

Posted in John