5 Tips To Help You Tune Out And Focus

How To Tune Out and FocusOne day, faced with an extremely long to do list and a severe lack of sleep, I drank 40 ounces of iced coffee within a two hour span. Healthy? No, not at all. Effective? Not in the least. I spent the rest of the morning battling jitters, a racing heart and the anxiety of knowing that I was so hyperactive and unproductive that my to do list would never shorten. Moral of the story: caffeinating is not always the answer to buckling down to focus on the tasks at hand.

I’m sure we’ve all had those days, hopefully sans iced coffee overdose, where we just cannot seem to focus on what needs to be done. It usually takes the form of too many internet tabs, checking and then re-checking Twitter and Instagram, then project bouncing until it’s acceptable to end the day. Before you count the entire day as lost, try out these five methods for tuning out the distractions and focusing on the work. Oh, and stay away from the iced coffee…far away.

01 // Set the tone for work to be done

Whether I’m about to schedule blog posts or sit down to work on a design, I have to set a work tone. When I’m blogging, that usually involves some relaxed background music, coffee and a clean work space. All of these things send a signal to my brain that it’s time to get things done.

02 // Have a plan

If I know I have a busy day ahead, I’ll be sure to write out a prioritized to do list the night before. Knowing that you already have a road map for the  day will alleviate so much stress once you’re ready to work. Avoid having things scattered in multiple places; you’ll want to be as organized as possible.

03 // Eliminate distractions

This is probably the most important key for tuning out and focusing on the work you need to do. Open a new browser window with no other tabs, go full screen so that you aren’t tempted to open another program, put your phone on “do not disturb” mode (iPhone feature). Be a little unreachable so that once you’re doing working you have actual free time to chat and socialize.

04 // Work in time chunks

The feeling of having 24 hours versus your whole to do list can be pretty overwhelming. Try approaching your tasks by dividing things into set chunks of time. For example, take an hour to schedule blog posts and another hour to work on post graphics with a 30 minute break in between. The break will give you a second to rest your eyes and stretch while still knowing that you have more to be done.

05 // Stop avoiding and procrastinating

If you’ve tried everything else and you still can’t tune out and focus, it may be due to your procrastinating or avoiding another project. Instead of avoiding a daunting task, knock it out first so that it’s over and you have a fresh mind to move on with.

Other posts to help with focusing and organizing:
Create an Effective To Do List, Being Realistic with Time, Declutter Your Workspace, The System Method



  1. May 22, 2014 / 1:20 pm

    Great tips, Amber! I find that sitting down with a big mason jar of ice water, my planner and notebook open with a pen (that won’t run out of ink) next to my laptop and going somewhere with minimal distraction (and maybe a little white noise) I can get a lot done!

    • May 23, 2014 / 3:49 pm

      We are totally on the same wave here, Kayli! Clear work spaces and hot lattes definitely helped me set the perfect mood to study for my finals a few weeks ago!

  2. May 22, 2014 / 3:33 pm

    This is sooooo helpful, but I’m terrible at putting these into practice. I hate silence when I work and I love sitting on my couch, but that usually turns to the TV being on and me chatting to my roommates. But I’ve also fallen in love with a productivity app called Any.do – you can schedule things for today, tomorrow, upcoming, and someday and also move them around/check them off as they happen. You can integrate it with Chrome as well! Sounds like something you might love. :]

    • May 23, 2014 / 3:49 pm

      Ohh, thanks for the heads up on the app! I know how hard putting things like this into practice are, but trust me, there are ways to work it into your lifestyle!

  3. May 25, 2014 / 11:46 am

    Lovely tips, Amber! As for your story of iced coffee overdose, for me as well coffee doesn’t do much good for productivity, I’d recommend some tea and/or home made infused water, especially when the days are hot! It’s not only delicious but good for you as well! 🙂

    • May 27, 2014 / 8:56 am

      Oh I’m a HUGE tea lover!! And I’m really interested in creating some infused water combos for summer! So far, I love ice cold water with cucumbers and strawberries. Any other water recs?

      • May 29, 2014 / 5:41 am

        Well, I must say I wasn’t very courageous when it comes to infused water…yet! I’ve only had single fruit combos with ice cold water. So far I tried with strawberries, peaches, apricots and I thing raspberries but I can’t quite remember if I did or I was planing to make raspberry one haha

        Internet is full of recipes and I plan on doing a research and making myself something more daring!

  4. May 27, 2014 / 5:37 am

    Literally needed this post so badly! I spent all of today telling myself I was going to get stuff done and got maybe a few things done. Not a very productive day. Perhaps I’ll implement these tomorrow!


    • May 27, 2014 / 8:57 am

      I hope you manage to be SUPER productive!! The hardest part is getting started. Dive into that first task head first and watch the rest just flow!

  5. July 21, 2014 / 5:54 am

    Ironic that I find this post while I’m surfing Pinterest instead of scheduling posts? Hmm. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

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