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Sloan the DEV Moderator for The DEV Team

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Sloan's Inbox: How do you improve focus?

Howdy folks! Sloan, DEV Moderator and mascot, coming back at ya with another question submitted by a DEV community member. πŸ¦₯

For those unfamiliar with the series, this is another installment of Sloan's Inbox. You all send in your questions, I ask them on your behalf anonymously, and the community leaves comments to offer advice. Whether it's career development, office politics, industry trends, or improving technical skills, we cover all sorts of topics here. If you want to send in a question or talking point to be shared anonymously via Sloan, that'd be great; just scroll down to the bottom of the post for details on how.

Let's see what we have this week...

Today's question is:

I've been struggling with concentration a lot recently and feel like I'm not able to get my work done during normal work hours. Any ideas on how to improve my focus and ensure I get things done in a normal amount of time?

Share your thoughts and let's help a fellow DEV member out! Remember to keep kind and stay classy. πŸ’š

Want to submit a question for discussion or ask for advice?Β Visit Sloan's Inbox! You can choose to remain anonymous.

Top comments (8)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

There are a number of ways to take this question, so I'll add just a single factoid that could help some people in certain contexts.

The positive benefits of coffee really go away if you drink coffee every day (Or use caffeine by other means).

If you're a coffee drinker, it's really helpful to take breaks (like weekends or just drink every other day). This could cause brain fog or worse depending on your dependency, but it's worth doing.

This is not the answer to the question directly, but could help someone out there if this is a component of their issues.

alvesjessica profile image
Jessica Alves

I think the answer for this question depends on if the lack of concentration comes from too many distractions or if it's a matter of low energy, stress, etc. Or maybe both.
For me, most of the time that I notice I'm not being able to focus on getting things done is because I'm procrastinating. Turning off notifications and putting my phone out of sight while I'm working helps me a lot to concentrate on what I need.

kurealnum profile image

This is basic, but try to eliminate distractions. For example, when I'm coding something that I know I won't need to google/go straight to Stack Overflow with, I put my editor in fullscreen, and close all other windows except the ones that I desperately need (which is normally none).

anmolbaranwal profile image
Anmol Baranwal • Edited

There can be lot of ways. Some might help, while some wouldn't:

  1. Try to see the impact on the level you want, be it personal or professional.

  2. Relax and take some time off; this is very important. Maybe watch a movie or take a short trip.

  3. Work for 30 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. Do something short that relaxes your brain.

  4. Remember why you started it in the first place.

HAHA! I'm not in the position to complain lol.

ingosteinke profile image
Ingo Steinke

Raise motivation! I find it much easier to focus and work productively on topics that make me feel motivated.

Possible approaches:

  • try to reject customers and projects that cause negative feelings instead of motivation (easier said than done, not feasible in most situations)
  • try to embrace the positive aspects of not focusing as productive procrastination and give it a certain time slot every day
  • take a break and go for a walk, again, using time slots, pomodoro, whatever
  • try and see the positive or important aspects of the work that you have to do, like
    • its positive impact on users or society (again, easier said than done in an industry mostly built on producing and marketing useless products)
    • its positive impact on customers or coworkers that you like (I might not care about a company's commercial goals, but I might care about certain people who work there)
    • the opportunity to learn and grow (even the worst assignment might be a challenge or help you find out and narrow down what's specifically wrong about it)
  • minimizing external sources of distraction, e.g. sit in a silent room, put on headphones, turn off the phone, block social media websites,
  • getting in "the zone" e.g. trying to feel a state of flow and concentration independent of the specific goal or technology, often amplified by certain rituals and listening to appropriate music
jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy πŸŽ–οΈ

Typo in title?

stefanmoore profile image
Stefan Moore

Best way to improve focus is to start off small and improve over time. Treat it as exercising.

ezekiel_77 profile image

Prepare coffee or tea... βœ…
Have one accomplishment you want to achieve in a particular projectβœ…
Everywhere is dark βœ… (A bit)
Open Spotify and Play a lofi playlist βœ…
Take regular 5 minutes break βœ…
Dont do anything more than what you intended to acheive βœ…
Feel fufilled at the end βœ…