How to Get More Work or Study Done

Do you feel like you’re always busy but are never getting anything ‘done’? Are you reading this post and already thinking of all the other things you need to do right now?

Our multitasking, ‘always on’ society means we’re switching between different projects or tasks constantly. No wonder it’s so hard to concentrate and find proper focus when you need to study or finish something important.

But the good news is, you can improve concentration and productivity no matter how much you struggle to stay on a course right now. It just takes strategies, structure, and patience. In this article, I’ll show some awesome tips, including how to train yourself for hyper-focus on a single activity.
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I’m the equivalent of a mental mega-fidgeter. My head is usually thinking of five different things at any one time. I used to convince myself that I was a multi-tasker and achieving more. But multitasking is a myth and I never finished most of the tasks I set out to complete, even though I would spend ridiculous amounts of time on them.

The tips I share here are what have transformed my time management and helped me get more work done in a life that consists of three different paid jobs, plus study.

Although some of these steps are common sense, it’s amazing how many people ignore them, then wonder why they still have a spiraling to-do list. So make sure you read through and complete them all. The example here is for study or work as that’s where a lot of concentration and productivity work happens, but you could apply the timed elements to many different activities – even housework.

How to stop multitasking and get more done

Prep your work area

If you’re studying or working, the idea is that when you sit down, you aren’t going to get up again soon. With that in mind, obviously make sure you’re comfortable and have everything you need. Gather your supplies or equipment, and get some water and anything else.

Shut out the noise and eliminate distractions

Make sure to shut the door on the outside world, wherever you are. Before he made it big, Stephen King used to write in a laundry room when he needed peace and quiet. Feel reassured that you don’t need a picture-perfect workspace, but try to make it somewhere you won’t be disturbed.

If you want background noise, avoid anything attention-sucking. A classical music playlist is great (I totally recommend Liszt), there are also white noise and study playlists on YouTube, my favorite is this one.

I also find it easier to concentrate when there’s less clutter around to play with or get distracted by. I put piled up papers, magazines, desk toys, and anything else in a box in the corner until I’m done, so my desk is clear.

How to stop multitasking and get more done

Put away your phone

If you absent-mindedly check Facebook, Instagram, or the news every few minutes like I do, just put your phone out of reach. If you know you aren’t going to do this, then you needn’t bother, but when I first started trying to improve my concentration, it was incredible to see just how often I reached for my phone out of pure reflex.
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Use a high shelf or anywhere that you’ll have to actively stand up in order to pick it up, to get yourself out of that habit. If you need to keep an eye on the time with it, just set an alarm.

Wrap-It Silicone Bands

Wrap-It Silicone Bands

Here is a great trick: place a few of these silicone bands around your phone. Every time you are tempted to absent-mindedly start scrolling, you will have something to remind you - I don't need my phone! 🙂

Decide on a single task

This is where eliminating multi-tasking comes in. You are going to work on a single activity, whether that’s reading, writing, researching, answering emails or practicing something. whatever it is, you just do that one thing.

While it seems like it might be more efficient to jumble up tasks and work on a bit of everything all at once, it’s not. It hurts your focus and you never fully accomplish things because you’re spreading yourself too thinly.

Working on a single task at a time also helps you identify what might be taking you a long time in your work, so you can see where exactly your time is going and feel more in control.

How to stop multitasking and get more done

Set a timer

Set a timer using your phone, or any simple kitchen timer, and begin working on your task for a set period. The best time to set is 25 minutes. This comes from the Pomodoro technique. It’s long enough to get engaged with a task but not so long that your attention span wanes and you get distracted.

Pomodoro Technique Illustrated- The Easy Way to Do More in Less Time

Pomodoro Technique Illustrated- The Easy Way to Do More in Less Time

If your concentration is terrible and you think you’ll struggle with 25 solid minutes, then you can start lower. You can begin with 10 or 15 minutes instead, but you might surprise yourself and find that the bell rings before you’re ready to stop.

Say to yourself, “I’m going to concentrate on this task for this time period and that’s it.” It makes it so much more manageable if you start small in this way.

If you have a huge paper to finish and it will likely take all day, don’t think, “I have to spend the next six hours on this task”. Just focus on the time slot in front of you.

How to stop multitasking and get more done

When 25 minutes is up, take a 5-minute break and then start the timer and begin again. You can take a longer break of up to 20 minutes, after 2 hours.

Set yourself really ambitious goals for what to achieve during the 25-minute slots. You’ll get so much further than you think.

Try to beat your time if you are doing a task over and over again and get further than you did before. If you finish before the end of the 25 minutes, just go back over it to check it or ‘overlearn’. It’s better to keep the concentrated effort running over the 25 minutes, so you get used to working for those time periods rather than ending early before the 25 minutes is up.

Try to keep your break activities light – don’t get into attention-sucking things like video games or social media chats. You’ll easily lose track of time and it’ll take too long to get your head back into it when you restart.

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