You may not throw a pass like a NFL quarterback, but can you stay in the zone and keep your head in the game?

Whether it’s at work or at home, staying focused and getting things accomplished can sometimes be a challenge. But, according to Serina Neumann, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at EVMS, you can tackle your tasks like a pro using the same game-day techniques of athletes in your every day approach to life.

Start with the basics

You have to get enough sleep and you have to eat right. There’s a reason pro athletes head to bed early the night before a big event.  These things go a long way to help your brain work best, Dr. Neumann says.

Cut the clutter

Try clearing the area in which you will be working and organize the items you need to do the task at hand. With less clutter comes less distraction. 

“It is also helpful to think about one thing at a time, and in a sequence,” Dr. Neumann says.  

Be a goal getter

 Set goals for tasks and commit to a time frame.

“Setting a timer is a great technique,” Dr. Neumann says, “and breaking down more complex tasks into smaller tasks can also be helpful.”

You should also schedule in mini breaks (5-10 minutes) to walk around or stretch.  

Front load your day

For tasks or responsibilities that involve more heavy thinking, try putting them as items to tackle at times when you are most alert. For some, this may mean early in the morning when you are starting your day. Others may find that after lunch or early afternoon is a more productive time.

Don’t listen to the chatter

Even athletes have to learn how to shut out game talk, screaming fans and other distractions. Try turning off email notifications, silencing your phone and text messages and, if necessary, closing your door. You will be more productive for it!