5 ways to instantly increase your focus

Frankie Kemp

11 June 2024

Motivation is like catching butterflies. Even if you work out what drives you now, that can change tomorrow, and it all depends on variables such as environment. A key element of creative problem solving skills is managing your environment to create focus and give you drive.  

Are you one of those people who can’t get down to work at your desk but whose focus turns razor sharp in the bustle of a cafe? Maybe you find writing only happens at 2am. But if you find you’re tidying your wardrobe (a job you’ve been putting off for 6 months) just because you have something more important to do, there could be a procrastination problem. 

So, let’s get down to business and explore five factors that will help you focus. Here’s to finding your personal formula for full concentration to smash chores and get those wins! 

Choose your time 

So many articles suggest that in order to be productive, you need to get up before the crack of dawn. It’s got to be before 4am and not a minute later or you’ll spend all day playing catch up. While I agree that early mornings can be tremendously energizing, it’s not always possible to stick to a morning work schedule, neither is it always a personal preference. 

Night owls often feel a rush of ideas or focus at midnight. There are some who even regard the hours of 2pm-6pm as their peak period for productivity.  

For me, I find it challenging concentrating on writing between 1pm and 6pm, which demands a certain type of attention.  Mornings are great and a rush of ideas download after 9pm. Although it’s not always convenient, being aware of this means I’m more likely to accommodate periods where I can apply myself within that time slot. 

It’s a case of personal preference; different parts of the day are better for certain activities.  Become conscious of your energy slumps and peaks. 

Choose your soundtrack 

Some people can only work in silence, but many other people are the opposite.  

  • Music: Put some music on. It may be Primal Scream or Schubert as long as you can zone out to zone in. 
  • Atmosphere apps: I’ve downloaded an app called ‘Nature Sounds’ I love the sound of the roaring fire but maybe the waterfall would have you running for the loo. Another one that can help you tune into your focus is any of the ‘Music for Study’ playlists on Spotify.  I have a mind that spans outwards and flies around so this helps me to stay on the task.  

Choose your place 

Your surroundings can put you into a completely different gear, and adjusting your environment can make you more productive, focussed and creative.  

I have a friend who has just received an advance from a publisher for her third book. The previous two were written entirely…in bed. One of my clients, a CIO, finds he works so much more productively in the kitchen at home. 

I can remember, having just moved house and had to practically burrow in and out of mounds of empty packing boxes to access my kitchen table. But I discovered that my concentration was intensified when surrounded by brown cardboard and in the absence of a huge advance from the publisher, it was just what I needed to finish the book of plays I was working on. 

Now, I’m not suggesting you live like a rabbit in a cardboard hutch, but being aware of the kind, and scale, of order you need around you can help you knuckle down. 

Choose your pace 

Working for fixed intervals can be very effective.  Not only does this mean that your concentration isn’t overstretched, but it allows large tasks to be broken down into bite size chunks. 

For this reason, some people find the Pomodoro method useful.  Here’s a graphic to explain how it works. 

The Pomodoro Technique for time management.

Here’s more information on the Pomodoro Technique 

After lunch, or with tasks that seem overwhelming, setting the clock to 10 minutes can feel more doable. You may well end up doing 90 minutes of highly concentrated work.  But if you don’t, then don’t sweat it. The important point is that you’ve made progress. 

An important element of any ‘short burst concentration’ method is what you do when you’re not on the task. A physical act as simple as putting the kettle on can very effective as breaking away from the task in hand prompts the brain to find solutions to problems: here’s the science. If you fancy sticking on Instagram to learn the Hot Shoe Shuffle then do that instead, but make sure you’ve got thick floors or you’ll find the neighbours banging on the walls. 

Choose your company 

For one of my clients, working in dispersed teams was affecting the motivation of some of his reports. Now, you may find it easier to get down to work when everyone’s fled the office or you’re home alone.  Others need people around them.  Getting started may be arduous when you’re by yourself so having others around you when you’re beginning may give you the push you need.  

This particular client found that when they were on Zoom, but working separately on tasks, there was increased focus and drive amongst his team.  The way they were working emulated the better parts of being in an office, and when they needed to knuckle down they’d switch to mute. 

You don’t even have to do this with your colleagues.  If you know others working in dispersed environments, you might buddy with them – even if it’s only to get you started. 

Your Action 

Since what motivates any of us can vary at any given time, experimenting with what works for you depending on the task you’re facing will boost your concentration. 

  1. Identify where you’re stuck or procrastinating. 
  2. What time do you find you’re most likely to focus?  Combine that with any of the other factors: soundtrack, pace, people, place. 
  3. Note what works. 
  4. Repeat if needed. 

Being aware of these aspects of motivation can have you feeling more in control of your actions and zipping through your ‘to do’ list in no time. This is an important part of my problem-solving skills courses.  

What specifically drives you? Let me know below….and in the meantime, check out my courses and how I can help improve your creative problem solving and much more…  


Need a quick way to solve problems?  I’ve got 6 for you to download right here!⬇️

This article was originally published in 2015 and was completely updated in June 2024.

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