How to Stay Productive: Part 3-Stay Focused

By Andy Zweibel
Republished with permission from Music Major

Set Goals for Work Time

One reason we tend to lose focus is that we try to work on too many different tasks in a given One way to maintain focus when you have time to work is to create a list of goals (also known as a ‘to-do’ list) just for that specific amount of time you have to work. If you have 45 minutes in between class, sit down in the library and write a list of what you plan to accomplish in that 45-minute block. Prioritize the list, and focus on completing only the tasks on your list, without falling victim to distractions.

Work on One Task At a Time

One of the biggest GTD (getting things done) pitfalls that we tend to have problems with is multitasking. When people have a lot to do, they tend to spread their efforts around, and work on multiple things at once. This causes our brain to not devote all it’s resources to one particular task, which in turn decreases the quality of work on ALL the tasks we are working on. Instead of forcing the brain to split its resources, make an effort to only work on one item on your goals list at a time. Do not move on to the next item on your list until you have completed the previous item, and do not skip ahead in your list. If you took the time to prioritize your list before starting work, you don’t need to spend time deciding what to do next once you started working. Many people have said, “plan your work, then work your plan.” This is an extremely beneficial statement.

Don’t Take On Too Much!

This is a suggestion that many Music Education Majors (including myself) have a difficult time with. There are so many opportunities for extracurricular involvement (band leadership, Greek life, CMENC for example), that we want to be involved in. When the time commitments associated with these activities are combined with those of practicing, classes, and schoolwork, a very busy schedule is developed. Don’t get me wrong, it is extremely important to become involved in your undergraduate years, but be sure that before you take on a responsibility, whatever it be, that you really take the time to consider the time commitment you are considering and whether you will be able to still devote the time and energy necessary to your preexisting obligations.

What About You?

What thoughts do you have for staying focused and productive? Do you have a system for keeping focused during “work time” that works for you? I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic!


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