Increased efficiency seems to be the Holy Grail of today’s modern fast-paced society. It’s created a multi-billion dollar industry composed of countless smartphone apps and self-help books promising to increase your ability to get things done. It’s all frankly quite distracting! Before you go spending your hard earned cash on that sort of thing, save yourself a few dollars and read the list below.
I believe at the heart of being efficient and being productive is the ability to stay on task. If you’re focused you can not only get things done quicker, you can then get a lot more things done. Pay attention in your office, or to your friends and you’ll soon notice the people who get the most done are the ones who start and finish things in one sitting. This is what the tech boffins in Silicon Valley mean when they say, “don’t work hard, work smart.”
So, here are my top 5 ways to stay focused throughout the day.
1. Keep a Tidy Workspace
You probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how neat your workspace is but you definitely should. Excluding your bed, you probably spend more time in your workspace than anywhere else on the planet. Keeping it tidy will improve your efficiency and reduce distractions.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “out of sight, out of mind.” Well, this is the attitude you should apply to your workspace. Every item within your line of sight should be relevant to what you do. By all means, personalize your workspace, put up pictures of loved ones, have a few pretty plants, but don’t place them directly in front of you. Having an organized workspace will dramatically unclutter your mind and help you focus on the task at hand.
2. Get More Sleep
Sleep has been referred to as the single greatest performance enhancer known to humankind. Oh sorry, correction, single greatest natural performance enhancer. I’m sure Lance Armstrong and his friends have a few other performance enhancers up their sleeves. But for you and I, nothing has the power to improve our ability to stay focused during the day than sleep.
Study after study has proven that individuals who sleep better are more accurate in their work, better at retaining and recalling information, more efficient, and better decision-makers. Should you want more detail, the team at the Sleep Advisor blog often discuss the importance of a good night’s rest has on mental performance in much greater length.
3. Experience the Benefits of a Power Nap
Nothing, and I mean nothing, can beat the cognitive performance boost that a good night’s sleep gives you. One thing does come close, however, and that’s a power nap. A microdose of sleep taken during the daylight hours.
Napping has been shown to be particularly effective if you are attempting to learn new skills or retain information. Studies have shown that individuals studying languages have an improved ability to recall words if they take a nap shortly after a study session.
Throughout the course of the day we all experience peaks and lows in terms of energy known as circadian rhythms. We are thought to be our most effective around 11 am and then comes the post-lunch slump, or the postprandial torpor, a decline in energy in the early afternoon.
Many power through this slump with caffeine. But a more sensible option is to lean into it and have a nap. You will find that after you wake you will have a vastly increased ability to focus. That’s what I call working smart!
When we worry, the body releases a chemical known as cortisol into your system, also known as the ‘stress hormone’. Apart from sleep, the most effective way to combat elevated levels of cortisol is to engage in physical activity. This can be anything from going for a jog at lunchtime, lifting some weights or targeting a flurry of jabs at a punching bag.
You might be saying to yourself, “who has time to exercise during the day?” Well, I’d answer that exercise again falls into the category of working smarter. An individual who sits at their desk all day worrying – their system flooded with cortisol – will have less ability to focus on the task at hand than someone who gets up, goes for a run and comes back with a clear head.
5. Make Lists in the Evening
Some of the most focused people I know are also the most avid list makers. They make them in the mornings and in the evenings. I even have one friend who makes lists of lists. While that might be taking it a step too far, I do firmly believe the process of writing a list has an incredible power to focus the mind on what’s really important.
Take five minutes in the evening to list your duties for the following day and then highlight the number one priority. This will give you a great boost to how you start the morning. Achieving that top goal should come before everything else, before you check emails, return calls, before anything. Then once you’ve ticked that off, you can get to work on the rest of your goals.
Well, there you have it my friends – five ways to stay focused throughout your day. I hope you managed to make it to the end without getting too distracted. If you didn’t, then maybe hit the hay a little earlier tonight. Give it a go. You can thank me in the morning – but not before you check a few things off your list!
Whether you own a business with a blog, you’re a freelance writer or a traditional blogger, learning to write a shareable blog post quickly is an essential skill that can be quite lucrative. Even if you’ve never written a post before, knowing how to do so can break down barriers and provide opportunities to guest blog on other sites and grow your business.
Do you know how to create a shareable blog post quickly? Your answer obviously depends on what I mean by ‘quickly.‘ After all, the word is a bit vague. Some people can crank out a post or two every day. For others, like me, it’s a slower process affected by time constraints, professional obligations, and family commitments. So, my definition of the word may be substantially different from yours.
Nonetheless, I would argue most writers would love to increase their output and improve the quality of their posts. That is where the word ‘shareable’ comes into play. Will your articles get the love, attention, and engagement they deserve? Will readers clamor to share your content on social media? If you’re uncertain, consider what you can do to compose more shareable content and increase your writing speed.
Ramp Up Your Productivity
Personally, when I need to produce an article quickly, I use a time management method called the Pomodoro Technique. I avoid ALL distractions and work on my post for twenty-five minutes. Then, I take a five-minute break to perform other tasks. I can answer an email, start a load of laundry, etc. After my break, the process begins again. After completing four rounds, I allow myself a more extended break of thirty minutes to relax, eat a meal or exercise.
This technique is amazingly effective, and I suggest using it throughout the entire process of creating your content.
Perhaps you’re saying, “I’ll just write shorter posts. Then I can produce more in less time.” Well, you can do that. However, your site will not please Google if it’s packed with mini posts. Google will respond by pushing you down the rankings. Better to publish articles of at least 600 words. And audiences share longer articles more often anyway.
Create a Catchy Title
I can’t tell you how many times I have read a strange, unclear, or incredibly long post title and ask, “What was this writer thinking?” Of course, I don’t click on the link because I don’t want to waste my time. That may sound harsh, but it’s hard to take bloggers seriously when they don’t understand or adhere to basic rules.
The title should be a clear statement or question
It should be relatively short – six to ten words is usually plenty
Powerful and emotional words like ‘you’ or ‘free’ or ‘easy’ should be incorporated
Numbered posts and how-to articles typically generate more interest
Chose a Relevant Yet Interesting Image
Another important aspect of a shareable blog post is the image your readers see. You don’t have to break the bank to obtain eye-catching pictures for your content. Plenty of free-to-use sites offer professional photos for you to upload to your blog. Here are a few:
For example, this video was free for me to use in this post.
Use Images, Graphs, or Videos Within Your Post
Readers will likely find your content more appealing if it contains a little visual stimulation. Include a relevant photo from the sites I mentioned above or embed an emotional Tweet or instructional video for impact. People share posts that entertain and provide value.
Make the Words Stand Out (In a Good Way)
Most professional bloggers keep their paragraphs short. They would likely tell you to vary the length of your sentences too. Readers have become accustomed to this style of writing because they’re skimmers. They simply love subheaders and bullet points. So use them.
This brings me to another point. I know it sounds boring, but use a large, standard looking font when you blog. People can’t read tiny words on a mobile device and won’t stay on your post, let alone share it. And if at all possible, use black lettering on white background. You might think this is ho-hum, but you’ll look like a pro. And that will result in social media shares.
Include a Call-to-Action At the End
If a reader makes it all the way through your post, you have kept their interest and provided valuable information. It’s the perfect time to ask them to:
1. Leave a comment about your post
2. Join your email list or Facebook group
3. Follow you on social media
4. Share your post
Don’t ask your audience to complete more than one action. Their time is important, and you’ll likely irritate them if you request too much.
Triple Check for Spelling and Grammar Errors
The following paragraphs contain affiliate links. If you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you.
Before you publish your content, edit it. Then do it two more times. Go through each paragraph line by line. Does it make the grade? Nothing will ruin the quality of a post like a series of typos. You won’t look professional and neither will your work.
When I began my journey as a blogger, I wanted to hire a proofreader. However, I could not afford one. So, I purchased Grammarly. It is an inexpensive program that edits my posts, Microsoft Word documents, and my emails. I still rely on it to correct my work daily. If you just can’t swing it at this time, ask a trusted friend or family member to review your article.
For Goodness Sake, Include Share Buttons
How can anyone pass along your epic post without share buttons? Don’t make it difficult for your fans to sing your praises. No share buttons translate into little attention or exposure to potential readers or clients. Perish the thought!
Several plugins give writers the ability to place share buttons on their site. After much research, I opted for Social Warfare. This tool has helped my business grow with professional looking buttons that look great on desktop and mobile.