With the back-to-school season almost here, so many of us are starting new colleges, course, jobs or other creative ventures. I always love that tipping point just before a season changes, it’s the perfect time to look back at what you’ve achieved, while also planning for the season ahead.
Earlier this year I published a blog post about the certain changes that I was trying to make for the better, with one of them being my learning to focus. Working for myself, I have to be extra-disciplined to make sure all the necessary tasks get done, and it can sometimes be a challenge. So now that we’re coming into the last quarter of 2016, I want to share with you some of the tips I’ve learned, while also showing you one of my favourite new timepieces from the Ralph Lauren RL88 Collection. My learning to focus is definitely still a work in progress, but hopefully my tips will help some of you who are in a similar situation.
1: The Pomodoro Technique
When I have bigger tasks like writing long blog posts or editing videos (which can take hours on end!) I often use focus apps to help me keep on track. There are so many free ones like 30/30 and Focus Keeper that are based on the Pomodoro Technique, which is the theory that any task can be split up into 30 minute intervals to increase productivity. So you basically have 25 minutes of work, along with a little recap at the end, to review your work and prepare for the next segment. I don’t stick to it as religiously as I should, but it definitely helps when I have a huge video to edit (like my Thailand vlog!) and If you too have problems focusing on the bigger tasks, then I recommend checking those apps out.
2: Focus music Playlists
This might seem like an odd one, but it really helps me. I’ve mentioned this on my Snapchat (add CiaraODoherty) before, but I’ll explain it a little more here. I LOVE music. So much so, that if I pop on one of my playlists while I’m trying to get work done, I often get distracted by them. So I found a few study videos on Youtube that are really simple instrumental mixes that span between 1-3 hours, so I pop one of those on when I need to focus, and it honestly makes such a difference. I have one in particular that I use the most (this one) and I think Im starting to subconsciously associate the sounds with getting my work done, which is great! It’s really relaxing, and I feel like it gets me in a really productive zone for at least few hours. Try it yourself and see!
Okay, so this one is not really a “hack” as it’s not just a simple trick, but it’s results that are like a magic potion for concentration. If you follow me on Snapchat you’ll know how much I love Spinning classes, and I try to get to one at least 3-4 times a week. It only takes 45 minutes, but the difference it makes to my productivity that day is incredible. I nearly always end up getting more things done on a day that I exercise, than on the days when I wake up and head straight to my desk. Working from home, it’s so important to get out of the house and get some fresh air into your lungs, and my walk to my local gym (however short) is such a nice break from sitting in front of a screen. So if you are having problems focusing, I cannot recommend regular exercise enough, you will be amazed at the results it has on not only your body, but your mind too.
4: Mindfulness practices
Just like with exercise, this tip is more of a general life-hack, and not just for getting your work done. For the past two years I’ve been using an app called Calm which is a meditation and mindfulness app, and has a great mix of guided mindfulness practices, as well as relaxing soundtracks to listen to. I mostly use it at night just before I sleep, and I’ve noticed that when I get into a good run of practicing with it frequently, focusing on work and other tasks during the daytime is so much easier. I also use it when I’m travelling on planes or trains and trying to sleep, as it blocks out all other noises, and it’s so relaxing to zone out to. The overall benefits of meditation and mindfulness are too many to mention in one post, but I can’t recommend trying it enough. Don’t be intimated by the idea of it, just try it for yourself and you’ll see that there is no wrong way to practice it. Once you’re trying, you’re doing it right.
5: Avoid your phone
My last tip is probably the most difficult one, but I try to avoid looking at my phone when I’m working. This is a near-impossible task, since all of my emails and social media are connected to it, but I try none the less. I can’t turn it off in case a work call comes through, so I just have to self-discipline, and it ain’t easy. One small tip is to use a wristwatch to avoid checking the time on your phone, which before you know it, leads to a 20-minute snapchat session. One of the newest watches I’ve added to my collection is this gorgeous leather-strap watch from the Ralph Lauren RL88 Collection, which is available online right now. There’s something about wearing a classic watch that instantly makes me go into “work mode” and what I love about the RL88 Collection is that you can easily change up the straps, giving you multiple styling options with one purchase. I’m obsessed with that deep green Croc-effect strap, isn’t it gorgeous?! So if you’re looking for a fashionable little focus-incentive, then maybe treating yourself to a stylish new watch this back-to-school season is just the ticket.
This post is a sponsored collaboration with Ralph Lauren, but all words, photography, opinions and shopping habits are very much my own. Thanks for supporting!