1) Start your project
It seems to be human nature to finish what we started. A task that is unfinished tends to linger in the mind and leaves us feeling unfulfilled until it is done. This is called the Zeingarnik effect. For example, a study conducted by the University of Mississippi in 1982 had students start a puzzle. Before anyone finished, the researchers told the students they were free to leave if they wanted. Yet, the majority of people stayed to finish the puzzle. A delay in starting a task leads to procrastination. People tend to think of all the negative parts of the work they must do, and distract themselves with other tasks. It may seem simple, but many people overlook the fact that if you just start your project, you will be much more likely to get it done. Start out with one of the simpler objectives of your task, and go from there. You will more than likely have the momentum to finish.
2) Periods of intense work followed by breaks
Our brains may not have been built to focus for long periods of time. This is why if you have worked on a task for a while, you may start to feel unfocused or zoned out. Instead of trying to work all day long, schedule your time wisely. You will be more likely to focus if you work for a set period of time, and then allow yourself to rest. Try working for 90 minutes, followed by a 15-20 minute break. These breaks can be beneficial for more than just focusing. Studies have shown that putting our minds in a relaxed mode can actually provoke ideas and solutions. Breaks can also allow us to step back and evaluate what we just did, seeing if we are on the right track to accomplishing our goals.
3) Stop multi-tasking
Productivity doesn’t increase from trying to do multiple things at once. In fact, the opposite happens! Researchers estimate that multitasking can result in a 40% loss of productivity. Although multitaskers may feel they are getting more things done, it is much more effective to focus on only one thing at a time. Studies have shown that a multitaskers ability to filter information, switch between tasks, and retain memory was exceptionally poor. Multitasking doesn’t save time either. Switching from one task to the next can actually slow you down. In order to be as productive as possible, engage in only one task at a time and limit distractions.