Focus on Learning and Ignore Distractions with 8 Productivity Tips

Learning Requires Focus

Being productive and focused is the best way to learn. It's important to build habits that promote focus, otherwise you'll keep falling into the same mental traps.

I tend to live each day reading Twitter or Facebook. While social media sites can provide great insight on iPhone development news, they usually morph into giant time wasters. I often find myself up against a wall writing code, similar to writers block. When I learn something new and something is clicking or I just uncovered a huge bug there's an urge to ignore it and try something easy. 

What do I do? I quickly type and 20 minutes later I've forgotten the issue and watched several silly cat videos. Not only have I been unproductive, but I've lost critical temporal knowledge I had 20 minutes ago when the issue first started. I've lost time and knowledge that could have been better used solving the problem. Don't fall temptation for an easy way out. Stick it out, and if you're really lost then step away from the computer and your phone for a short walk.

8 Simple Rules for Productive Days

The easiest way to prevent these mindless excursions is to say no, or to set limits on when you're allowed to visit social media websites. Here are 8 rules that I try to follow each day.
  1. Write a todo list. I write it at night for the next day and keep it short (3-5 items). I can sleep easier and focus harder on exactly what is needed. It really feels good to cross things off a list!
  2. No email before 12pm. If I don't look at email my brain won't worry about responding until later in the day. This definitely helps me focus hard in the first 4 hours of my workday.
  3. No social media before 5pm. Again, this reduces the amount of "new" things my mind can think about. Doing so enables me to relax and just think about my current todo list.
  4. Drink lots of water. I find that I get headaches with too much coffee and not enough water.
  5. Exercise. Each time I stop exercising I lose energy and become overwhelmed with all the work I need to do. Exercise can really help me relax after a long day of work.
  6. Sleep. Setting a regular bedtime and morning wakeup time makes me fresh and ready to go. Without a regular interval it's easy to lose motivation and hard to wake up. 
  7. Wear comfortable clothes. It's amazing how my mood instantly feels better in a soft shirt instead of a coarse shirt. Just thinking about the comfort makes me excited.
  8. Take breaks. I get tense at the computer, especially when I'm in the zone. To combat that I'm trying to relax more with frequent breaks. My favorite is just leaning over and touching my toes for 40 seconds. I also use BreakTime on my Mac.

What focus tips do you have?

Email me or comment below to share what works for you. Everyone's different and there's other things to try.

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