8 Tips to Increase Focus and Productivity Today

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This article first appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of New Beauty. Click here to subscribe

New research shows that women are logging more hours virtually, but taking fewer breaks, and distractions are at an all-time high. Here, expert tips for managing mounting tasks without letting our minds go astray.

Morning Mood

Nootropics, or smart drugs, are supplements that are said to improve cognitive function like memory, creativity or motivation,” explains holistic health practitioner Dr. Shari Auth. DJ, socialite and podcast host Paris Hilton says she grabs a botanical supplement made of L-theanine, valerian root and ahiflower to stay alert: “A morning must-take for me is R3SET CALM ($18) so I can stay focused throughout the day. I take two and am more focused and less stressed. I feel empowered because I’m doing something good for my mind and body.”


“Make a daily to-do list with the priorities at the top,” recommends New York neuropsychologist Sanam Hafeez, MD. “Make sure not to let yourself get too hungry or too tired as you cross things off the list, as both can impede focus. Clear your workspace of clutter and distractions. Lastly, set a SMART goal—one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Focus on paying attention to your thoughts and emotions without judgment. At the end of the day, celebrate your wins. The idea is to remain in the present and not rehash the past or forecast the future.”

App Appeal

For Tracy Otsuka, host of the ADHD for Smart Ass Women podcast, modern technology is the key to success. “The best piece of tech I have ever used to help me stay organized and focused is my Apple watch, but the most useful app has to be the Bear app. I can never remember where I filed anything, and looking for something can take up a lot of my time. With Bear, I can save everything from paint colors I used on my son’s room five years ago, to podcast ideas, recipes, photos and emails—my whole life. When you need something, you just type in a few words and it searches the app to find what you need in an instant.”

Brain Balm

According to holistic healer Hope Gillerman, how we schedule our aromatherapy is just as important for brain function as how we schedule our daily caffeine intake. “In the morning, inhale daytime essential oils. I recommend peppermint, which we often associate with toothpaste and waking up. For lunch, citrus oils are revitalizing. Like adding lemon to water, lemon essential oil refreshes us. A ‘thinking oil’ like eucalyptus can also help with brain fog. At the end of the day, switch to lavender to relieve stress and promote sleep.”

Block Party

Setting boundaries is number one,” says Chillhouse founder Cyndi Rameriz-Fulton. “I need to set aside long hours or even days to get some meatier work done, versus the day-to-day inbound work that ends up eating my time. My biggest strategy to getting this type of work done is giving myself full days with no meetings or anything on the calendar. Fully uninterrupted, open days are the ones where I feel the most productive.”

Pressure Points

Dr. Auth, founder of WTHN, uses an ancient Chinese practice involving ear seeds ($45), which she says can alter brain chemistry via neural pathways. “You just place the seeds—they come in silver, gold or Swarovski crystal—on one of the dozens of points in the ear that are connected to different parts of the body. There is a ‘brain’ point on the ear, and placing a seed there on both ears is great for focus and concentration. It’ll work on its own, but you can also push on it to get it an extra little boost. You can leave it on for three to five days to feel the full effects.”

Club Head

Like a Peloton class for the easily distracted, the All Day Dreaming club on the Clubhouse app has become a hub of productivity for those craving daily structure and support. Using a time management technique called “The Pomodoro Method,” it involves blocking out a 25-minute interval of heads-down, interruption-free work followed by regular breaks. Like-minded users convene to keep each other accountable on their daily tasks, with 25-minute check-ins to remind one another to take their break before the next block starts.

Time Crunch

“Set a timer for everything, even shower, time” says Otsuka. “This is something that has cut an extra half an hour out of my day. The hot water increases our creativity, which raises dopamine levels, which is why we want to stay in there so long. It can quickly become a 45-minute shower, but easily feel like five. I also have a timer on my makeup mirror where I get ready because I find myself getting lost in the moment and all of a sudden losing time.”

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