5 Ways To Stay Focused At Work
Most of us have trouble focusing on our work at one time or another, but the reasons for this differ. Some people stray when they’re bored; others find reasons to avoid a difficult task. Maybe you even have annoying co-workers who like to talk rather than work. For me, I have kids. Having kids means that your mind has become accustomed to being pulled in a thousand different directions at any given time (at least that is my excuse when my mind wanders at work). Usually, during an occasion where I’m staring off into space thinking about my growing task list, I’m able to reel it back in and concentrate on the task at hand. But if staying focused at work is more than an occasional problem for you, try some of the following tips.
1. Just Do It
Suck it up. I tell my kids this all of the time. Life can be hard but sometimes we just have to deal with reality and adjust accordingly even when we don’t feel like doing it. Your current work assignment may not always be something you enjoy doing. Sometimes it’s really difficult and wouldn’t it be much more enjoyable to be at the beach? However, only a few of us are lucky enough to get paid for sticking our toes in the sand, so you have to find a way to power through the drudgery. Do your very best and move on. A more interesting and enjoyable task (or job) is just around the corner so focus on that outlook and your interest will naturally follow.
2. Fake It
If the problem is that you are continually interrupted or easily distracted by co-workers, try wearing headphones. You can listen to music (or not, you can always just wear them for show); I’m not suggesting that you drown out surrounding noise with more noise. You’re simply conditioning your co-workers to leave you alone. I used this tactic a ton when I worked in an office. When your headphones are on, ignore everybody – pretend to be on a conference call. Fight the urge to remove the headphones and say, “Do you need something?” Eventually, your co-workers will learn to leave you alone when they see the headphones.
3. Silence Your Phone
Nothing is more distracting than a loud, sudden text message when you are deep into your work! One look and your mind shifts away from your task at hand. And worse, if you are unlucky enough to have a Candy Crush addiction, delete it off your phone immediately. You heard me! Uninstall those time-waster apps! Use the same approach for your company IM, Facebook and Twitter too. Do not waste time on social media; it’s far too easy to get sucked into a black hole of time-wasting that way. If you’re disciplined enough, you can schedule play breaks during the day, but if concentrating on the task is a big problem for you, it’s better for you to quit it altogether.
4. Schedule Email
Unless your job requires it, limit your access to email. Nothing can shift focus more than responding to the unopened messages that taunt you in your inbox. Try to check email only twice a day: when you first arrive and maybe again in the midafternoon and book those sections on your calendar so you aren’t tempted to “just take a quick look” at other times during the day. When you’re done, close your mail client and don’t open it again until the next scheduled session. Constantly checking email interrupts your train of thought. Make email a to-do task that you complete on schedule and then forget about in-between times.
5. Get Moving
Find at least 30 minutes of the day for a mandatory break. If it’s nice outside, enjoy a little walk. If going outside isn’t an option, take the stairs; get your heart rate going. Opt for a few minutes to stretch and relax. Anything you can do to get the blood flowing will help you better concentrate when you return to work. You don’t have to be rigid about the timing. Just do it. It’s the simplest method you can employ, and you’ve heard it before, but it’s the advice people ignore the most.
Now, chances are you will never get everything done that is on your list for the day. But, making these few small changes will help you stay focused! It will improve productivity, giving you more control over your day with more time spent on the tasks that brings about the biggest results.