Staying focused on work is easier said than done. Distractions and lack of motivation can turn one simple task into a day-long affair or a big project into an all-nighter before deadline. This dilemma is quite common, with studies showing that one out of five people are chronic procrastinators. That’s why it’s good to know some strategies to keep you on track.

Given this common procrastination problem, it’s important to remember that productive focusing techniques will differ from person to person. You’ll have to learn a bit about yourself and discover how you can use these strategies to fit your preferences and habits.

Whether you’re working from home, studying for a final, or are determined to start writing that first novel, here are three tips you can do to help focus.

1. Find Your Sound

When you’re trying to focus, people might tell you to isolate yourself in a quiet room. The silence can limit distractions and prevent you from getting distracted by whatever (or whoever) is going on in the room. But silence isn’t always the best idea for everyone. Instead, you might find yourself being more productive with some type of background noise during your work session.

Television or music might be a bit distracting, which is why you can try using another type of background noise. Go onto YouTube and search for white noise on loop. Experiment with other types of sounds too, such as brown or pink noise. There are also soundscapes like beach waves or forest ambience that could be more your style. Whatever you prefer, let it play and allow your mind escape into work.

2. Beware Of Parkinson’s Law

If you’re a procrastinator and haven’t heard of Parkinson’s Law, then this is a perspective that will change the way you see your work day. Parkinson’s Law is the idea that a person will use the entire duration of time given to complete a task, no matter how big or small a task may be.

For example, a person might be given all day to fill out paperwork and wait until the last minute to submit it before the deadline. It would be more productive to get the task done sooner instead of procrastinating until the last minute, but that’s not always realistic based on a person’s work habits.

Try using the Parkinson’s Law to your advantage. Instead of abiding by the final deadline on a project, set an earlier deadline (or mini deadlines) for yourself. Make yourself believe the earlier deadline you set is the final one. That way, the amount of time you use to complete the task will be less, and you’ll be finished ahead of time.

3. Make A Daily List Of Goals

You probably have a general idea of what you need to get done once you start the day. But things can be forgotten or ignored when they aren’t physically written down. That’s why you should make a list of things to get done, with some strategy behind the order of the list.

Decide whether you want to knock the simple or harder tasks off your list first. Everyone is different, so one strategy might be more productive than the other. Either way, you’ll be checking things off the list which can be all the motivation you need to keep going.

Breaking your day into smaller pieces can make your workload less overwhelming. When everything is in your mind, it all seems like one big hassle. Writing it down and seeing it on paper can make it seem easier to tackle. It’s also a way for you to reward yourself for getting something done, no matter how simple or mundane the accomplishment may be.

Learn What Makes You Work Best

While there are a lot of things you can learn about yourself to be more productive, it’s also a personal process that involves self reflection and realization. You might discover you work better at night rather than the day, or that you prefer to complete tougher tasks before moving onto the simple things.

Here are some extra tips to keep in mind when working:

  • Set timers to complete tasks on deadlines
  • Set your clock 15 minutes faster
  • Ask someone to hold you accountable on tasks
  • Work with a buddy

Next time you need to get something done, keep these tips in mind and give them a try. Find the right environment for you to work in, set mini deadlines, make a list of goals and find out what works for you. You can even search online to learn more about productivity and focus, which gives you the chance to try out different strategies during your workday.