Create a space designated solely for work. If that space is your desk in a work office, for example, use it only for work ‘ step away from it when taking breaks or eating ‘.
Form a strong association between working and your desk to make concentrating easier.
Remove surrounding distractions. Turn off the ringer on your phone and, if possible, shut down your computer if you will be tempted to surf the Web.
Assemble all the materials you will need (books, paper, charts). You want to avoid getting up to retrieve materials and distracting yourself.
Set a specific production goal and give yourself a manageable chunk of time (perhaps 1 to 2 hours) in which to achieve this goal.
Create pressure by scheduling meetings or other interruptions to force yourself to work more effectively during a shorter period of time.
Reward yourself after each period of intense concentration with a small break.
Tips & Warnings
- Work at a time of day when you know you are alert.
- Work with another person nearby ‘ someone whose work habits you respect and who will not distract you ‘ to encourage yourself to concentrate more fully.
- Try to stop work at a natural breaking point or after some sort of accomplishment, which will make returning to work easier. Write notes to quickly jog your memory when you resume.
- Try jotting down ideas as you think or notes as you read. The act of writing can force you to devote attention to the task at hand and discourage your mind from wandering. Writing also helps you process and clarify information.
- Develop an interest in your work, from which concentration naturally follows.
- Avoid expecting to work with maximal effectiveness for long, unbroken stretches of time, as there are limits to anyone’s powers of concentration.