By CIERA CONLON The ability to focus may be one of the most important techniques to master in order to achieve big things in life. We all know that in order to focus we should switch off our phones, close our email and take regular breaks. But here are a few more unexpected ways to sharpen your focus and get more done. 1 Leave your Desk Behind – Getting away from the usual place where you work can help you to disconnect from all other work that needs doing. If you are not looking at the clutter on your desk or the people around you who need stuff done, you will be better able to focus on the job at hand. 2 Clear the Decks – If you’re finding it difficult to concentrate, and getting started, an idea moves farther and farther away with each breath. Take an hour to get on top of things. Process your email and paperwork. Don’t be tempted to do the work, just plan it. Add tasks to your calendar to be done at a later time. Delete irrelevant emails and file those that need to be kept for reference. By processing and planning your work, you can relax knowing everything is under control. 3 Listen to Classical Music – They say classical music makes you smarter, but what it also does is relaxes your mind to help you concentrate better. The Mozart effect claims that listening to Mozart’s music may induce a shortterm improvement on the performance of certain kinds of mental tasks. 4 Exercise – It doesn’t seem to matter what exercise you choose just as long as it makes your heart pump a little faster. Exercise reduces stress, increases well-being and it is also suggested that large amounts of exercise give us healthy injections of dopamine, serotonin and other goodies for the brain. 5 Avoid Multitasking – Multitasking isn’t better. Our brain can switch tasks at a rapid pace but it is not efficient at multitasking. Switching from task to task means that we have to refocus our brain each time to regain the same levels of focus. Stick to one thing at a time. As Confucius said, “He who chases two rabbits catches none!” 6 Shrink your Mental Deadlines – We all know how quickly we can work when something is due tomorrow. If we give ourselves a week, it will take a week. Tell me it’s due tomorrow and see how my mind focuses on getting it done. Schedule time in your calendar and tell yourself it must be done in a shorter time frame. Make sure you eliminate all possibilities of distraction. 7 Get the Light Right – According to several studies, the amount of light the brain receives affects how alert and productive we are. The right amount of light and daylight if possible, will put the brain in its most alert and focused state. 8 Dangle a Carrot – No not a real one… well maybe if you really like carrots. If not, substitute the carrot for a night out with friends, a trip to the cinema or whatever reward will get you motivated. 9 Create a Stop Doing List – Most of us create a daily ‘To-Do’ list of some sort but how many of you use a ‘Stop Doing’ list? A list which outlines the things that you know wastes your time. If I’m busy writing, I know I shouldn’t’ be browsing social media. If I’m working on a proposal, I know I shouldn’t be checking my email. A stop doing list outlines all the things that you shouldn’t be doing when you are trying to get work done. By writing these things down, it reminds you what not to do and helps you to focus on what needs to be done. 10 Take Time to Review – When we are sprinting to get everything done it often seems impossible to take the time to review the day. If you make time for this practice not only will you see what you have achieved but you will see how efficient you have been in getting work done. You can analyze and make changes necessary to work at maximum capacity. 11 Go to Sleep – Counter intuitive though it may sound, sometimes it’s the only solution. A power nap will eliminate any grogginess and sharpen your mind to focus and get more done. So if you want to boost your productivity and get more done, try out some of these more unexpected ways to sharpen your focus.