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12 Tips and Tools to Improve Skill Acquisition and Productivity

Attention and awareness are necessary to acquire information and learn new skills. In addition, they are critical to maximize productivity. A helpful mantra, “Identify the Interferences,” reminds us that physical difficulties, emotional barriers, environmental limitations, and psychosocial factors can have an enormous impact, and following a catastrophic injury, these are often magnified. In fact, our experts at Kintinu Telerehab are constantly evaluating how interferences are affecting skill acquisition, recovery, and productivity.

Without appreciating the interferences that are present and providing accountability along the way, it’s all too easy become distracted, overwhelmed, and frustrated. Our clinical experts at Kintinu have compiled a list of tips and tools to improve focus, attention, and productivity. Check them out!

#1: Use the “Focus” settings on electronic devices

The “Focus” settings can be used to set specific time constraints and rules on when to receive app notifications, phone calls, and texts throughout the day. There are multiple ways to set this up, including “Work Focus” from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and “Sleep Focus” throughout the night.

How to use “Focus” settings on an Apple device.

How to use “Focus” settings on an Android device.

#2: Limit screen time on social media apps from your device (or delete them altogether)

Deleting social media apps is a fool proof way to limit screen time. If this feels extreme turning off notifications or setting limits on screen time are a nice first step. This is done by setting screen time parameters.

To set screen time on Apple device.

To set screen time on Android device.

#3: Commit to a regular meditation practice

Meditation has been proven to improve a host of personal wellbeing measures, including attention and focus. Regular meditation practice thickens the pre-frontal cortex, which “manages higher order brain function.” It doesn’t take that long to see results. Studies are showing physical changes in the brain are noticed after just eight weeks of regular practice for less than 15 minutes per day.

#4: Be intentional when scheduling daily tasks

In his book, “When,” Daniel Pink explores why our minds are sharper in the mornings, why we’re more creative in the afternoons, and how to structure your daily tasks around your biological clock. Pink recommends scheduling harder, more cognitively demanding tasks in the morning when we’re naturally happier and sharper and recommends tackling task involving creating thinking and brainstorming in the afternoon. He even suggests everyone should take an afternoon nap!

#5: Stop multi-tasking

Multi-tasking is extremely difficult, especially when it comes to complex tasks. Instead, completing several tasks at a time involves shifting attention quickly between tasks, and this comes at a cost. In fact, one study showed that multi-tasking (or shifting one’s attention) can negatively impact productivity by 40%. Instead, tackling one task at a time and solely focusing on one task at a time improves productivity.

#6: Drink water, eat nutritious meals, exercise, and get enough sleep

Each of these aspects deserves its own blog post as they all impact attention and focus. That said, regular exercise, good sleep hygiene, drinking plenty of water, and eating a balanced diet have all been proven to cognition, mental health, and overall wellbeing.

#7: Forest

This app gamifies productivity and focus by growing your own virtual forest. Plant a seed in the forest to start focusing on a task. Leave the app open for the tree to continue growing. Leaving the app to early, causes the tree to die. Even better, growing virtual trees leads to planting real trees!

(Side note: Check out the Personality Focus Test).

#8: Calendly

Struggling with scheduling meetings with friends or colleagues? The effort it takes always feels like a huge time-suck, which is where Calendly comes in. Calendly integrates personal calendars into one spot allowing for easy scheduling. Users can specify availability and what type of meeting to schedule (via phone, Zoom, in person, etc.).

#9: Habit Trackers

There are multiple methods to build or quit a habit but setting a goal and then tracking the progress related to the habit is a great way to boost motivation. For example, Habit can be used to track daily water consumption, medication times, and daily mindfulness practice. There are plenty of Habit trackers out there – the link above contains a list of 22 different options!

#10: Krisp

Krisp is a software platform that removes any background noise from video calls. This eliminates the need to worry about distracting others and leads to more focused calls and meetings.

#11: plays music to improve our focus, attention, and sleep. They have patented key processes for creating music designed to subdue or remove attention-grabbing elements. With over 4,000 5-star reviews, this is a great option for anyone who likes listening to music while working!

#12: Headspace

Interested in improving their mindfulness and incorporating meditation into your daily routine? This is a perfect place to start. It’s easy to navigate, affordable, and provides beginner to advanced guided meditation practice. There are over 500 guided meditation practices, as well as sounds and music to improve sleep. Headspace also offers educational articles, which are great resources to support any mindfulness practice.