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To be productive, we have to maintain focus. But that is easier said than done. Our powers of concentration are limited – after a certain period of time we need to take a break because we begin to lose our focus. The key is in learning how to regulate our focus so that we can use it as effectively as possible. Here are a few tips.

1. Stay away from email

Interruptions can vaporize focus very quickly. One of these interruptions is routinely checking email. When working on an assignment, avoid checking your email. You will be surprised at how much more productive you will be.

A better way to manage email, rather than checking it haphazardly throughout the day, is to set aside certain times when you will look at it.

2. Use blocks of time

Splitting your work time into intervals is another way to maintain focus. One way of doing this is called the Pomodoro method. With this technique, you work for 25 minutes, then take a five minute break. Repeat this sequence three more times, then take a 25 minute break.

This helps you to maintain focus by interspersing your work with short recovery breaks. Some also believe it helps to train your mind to be more flexible by switching from work mode to rest mode and then back again.

3. Turn off the phone

Doing this, like avoiding email, will help you avoid any interruptions that can destroy your concentration very quickly. You may think a short interruption won’t throw you off stride very much, but you would be wrong. Studies have shown that it takes almost 25 minutes to fully regain focus again after an interruption.

4. Develop a routine

Doing the same tasks at the same time every day helps to develop consistency and also trains our mind to focus better. It is not just practicing a skill that makes us better at it, but practicing it with deliberate focus and intensity – perfect practice makes perfect.

5. Pay attention to your moods

If you find yourself becoming tense or anxious, flying off the handle at the smallest of provocations, you need to take a step back and reassess your workload and the demands on your time. There is little chance of being able to focus in this situation.

6. Get some physical activity

When you take a break, do something that gets you moving, such as taking a walk or some stretching exercises. This will help to energize you physically and mentally, which will help you focus better.

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