In the ever-evolving world of technology, our brain’s ability to concentrate on a central task has become harder and harder. With the right mindset and practice, you can train your mind to stay present. Understanding the benefits of staying focused can be crucial to our success and will help us gauge where we can improve in our professional careers. In this article, we define focus and provide you with the tips to implement proper concentration with minimal distractions in the workplace.
What is focus?
Focus is how someone pays attention or concentrates on a particular person or thing. When someone is focused, their attention is centered on a focal point. In terms of the workplace, an employee is focused when their attention is geared toward completing their main goal or objective.
Benefits of being focused
Staying committed to a central task can be greatly beneficial in the workplace. No matter the industry you work in, increasing your attention span can propel your professional success. Here are four benefits of being focused:
1. Builds momentum
When you stay focused on one assignment, you’re more apt to complete it with greater efficiency. Your ability to finish tasks at a quicker pace can motivate you to move onto the next. Knowing you’re capable of getting things done will help you stay positive and motivate you to achieve your next goal.
2. Increases productivity
The more you’re able to stay on task, the more tasks you’ll be able to complete overall. Minimizing distractions is a great way to stay in the zone and allow your brain to process what needs your attention. As a working professional, you’re more apt to get more work done when you centralize your attention.
3. Reduces stress
By staying on task and increasing your productivity, you’ll also be minimizing any tension and pressure that’s built up. When you’re focused on one sole assignment, you’re able to check more items off your to-do list and free up more time in your work schedule. Your ability to direct your energy will guarantee you don’t fall behind on work and that you aren’t rushing to meet deadlines last minute.
4. Produces better quality of work
Your ability to focus is instrumental to your success in the workplace. The more time and concentration you’re able to devote to one task, the greater the quality of work you’ll produce. Not only will you be completing tasks quicker, but you’ll also be ensuring they’re free from errors.
How to stay focused in the workplace
Here are 10 things to consider when trying to stay focused in the workplace:
1. Eliminate distractions
You will be more productive and have a better chance of staying focused when you remove anything in your surroundings that might cause interruptions. If feasible, try keeping your phone in a different room or staying offline to minimize distractions. Working alone or in a quiet environment will also make you more focused.
2. Prioritize your tasks
If you have a lengthy number of tasks to complete, it can be beneficial to not only create a to-do list, but to also rank each item by their level of importance. This will allow you to methodically work through your tasks instead of simply be overwhelmed and likely ineffectual.
3. Train your mind
Engaging in various brain training activities is a great way to improve your cognitive abilities and subsequently, your ability to stay focused. When you instruct your brain to become more disciplined, you can become more active in paying attention to the task in front of you.
4. Work in a quiet space
When you’re working alone or in a secluded area, you’re more apt to get more work done. A quiet environment ensures you won’t be interrupted by colleagues or other noisy distractions from your workplace environment.
5. Try meditation
Taking the time to relax, breathe and meditate can greatly improve your cognitive abilities. Try practicing yoga to strengthen your ability to concentrate in the workplace.
Exercising regularly stimulates your brain and keeps it refreshed. Engaging in physical activity will also improve memory capacity and overall concentration. Not only will it help you stay energized, but it’ll also give you the extra boost you need to stay on task at work.
7. Take breaks
Taking time for yourself is a great way to avoid burnout. While steadily completing tasks is important, giving your mind time to recharge and relax can be greatly beneficial for your mental health. If you’re stuck on a task, walking away for a short while can provide you with a fresh perspective. Taking a break and allowing your brain time to shutdown can also provide you with the momentum you need when you return to work.
8. Get a good night’s sleep
Sleeping at least eight hours a night is a great way to make sure you’re in your best physical and mental state when you arrive at work. Being sleepy causes you to slow down. Getting a good night’s rest, on the other hand, allows you to remain alert and awake—especially during the morning hours.
9. Focus on one thing at a time
When you direct your attention toward one sole task, your risk of distraction minimizes. Rather than multitasking, keep your brain actively engaged on one thing at a time. Increase your quality of work and your attention span by focusing on one task first, then move onto the next.
10. Allot time to certain tasks
When determining what tasks you need to complete, consider the length of time you’ll need to complete each. Scheduling out your day and exercising your time management skills will help you complete your work more efficiently and help you stay on top of it all. For example, allot 8-10 a.m. to complete task one, 10-11 a.m. to complete task two and so forth.
Learning how to focus by applying helpful tactics to improve your attention span can help you become a better employee. Though distractions are bound to arise, learning how to deal with them as well as determining what will work well for you, are great starting points to consider.
Focus, being present or living in the moment. Chance are you’ve heard some version of this in the last few days. Being present has become a buzzy topic, one that everyone from lifestyle gurus to researchers. Headlines tell us over and over again that our attention spans are getting worse- but then some tell us that they’re just fine!
It’s certainly true that there are more platforms to create a presence on, more voices to listen to, and more news coming at us. So regardless of whether or not our attention spans are shrinking, the issue of where to focus still stands.
Here’s how to focus your attention better at work.
Set a Short Timer
When you’re first trying to reclaim your attention from your inbox or co-workers, start small. Set a 10 minute timer and try to focus on just one item. Maybe it’s deleting emails for 10 minutes. Perhaps it’s working on one blog post. Maybe it’s reading through an article for research.
Setting a timer gives you some accountability. Making it short to start with makes it more likely for you to focus on the task at hand. As you get better at focusing, you can slowly lengthen your timer.
Tell People You’re Trying to Focus
Be upfront with as many people as you can that you’re trying to make some changes. If you can, tell co-workers or bosses that the first hour of the morning when you get in is your ‘deep work’ time and you’d like to not be disturbed. Setting boundaries helps train the people around you to respect them. If everyone knows the first hour of work you’re not to be disturbed, they’ll know not to set meetings with you at that time. That gives you the chance to really focus your attention better at work and get through your check list.
Be Honest with Yourself
One of the hardest things about focusing is that we lie to ourselves about it all the time. We think we can multi-task so we leave our phones on our desks and open 10 tabs while we are also trying to fill in a budget spreadsheet.
Be honest with yourself; if you know that seeing your phone out makes you want to scroll through social media ‘just to check,’ put your phone in a drawer. Open a new window with just the spreadsheet in it so that you won’t be distracted by the other tabs.
Setting a routine and boundaries will help you focus your attention better at work. You can’t focus on everything at once, so just stop trying. Instead of trying to get it all done at once, focus on one thing at a time, and you’ll find that you’re getting more actually done.
Can’t stay focused at work? Don’t worry it happens to everyone. It is sometimes difficult to stay focused with multiple distractions around us. Co-workers telling you about their new dog and the road trip they took over the weekend. Distractions such as social media and alerts from our phone can prevent us from staying focused. Instead of being productive and accomplishing tasks daily we procrastinate. Staying focused at work requires simple practices such as following a schedule and turning off cell phones. If you are wondering how to stay focused at work, here are some tips to help you.
How to stay focused at work
Create a schedule
A schedule is very effective when you have several tasks to do daily. It will help you to accomplish more tasks and remain focused. Create a schedule and adhere to it and you will realize how much difference it makes. You will also meet your target each day. If you operate without a schedule you will get nothing done. The most successful and influential persons will operate on a schedule because they realized that they will reach their objectives daily. Without a structured schedule, you have no sense of direction or purpose. You can be easily distracted as a result.
Work on one project
The workload can be stressful and overwhelming. Working on one project will help you to accomplish more. You focus all your energy and concentration on one assignment. Multitasking does not increase productivity, it usually diminishes your performance. It is quite distracting to text, check email and work on the auditing your boss gave you simultaneously. You should instead check your email in the morning before work begin. Then work on the auditing only during work hours. During a break, you respond to the text message. Working on one project at a time keep things simple and less distracting.
Turn off your technological devices
How many times do you check your phone at work? Oh yes, I think I hear plenty times. Technological devices such as cell phones, iPads, and video games can be distracting at work. You should consider turning them off during working hours in order to minimize distractions. Unless you are expecting an important call use your cell phone when you have a break or free time. You are tempted to check who text when your phone beep with notification.
Use breaks to socialize and reenergize
Taking breaks can help to increase your focus at work. Usually, your concentration reduces when you do something repeatedly for long hours. Breaks are recommended at work. It is mandatory in some workplaces in order to improve employees productivity. You can use your break to meditate and listen to music. After this, you will be ready to take on your assignments for the day. If you have been sitting down for long periods, you can use your break to walk around and stretch. This will increase your focus.
Stay away from social media
If you are addicted to social media then this may cause distractions at work. Just like technological devices, you will be tempted to check your newsfeed on Facebook. This will be more interesting than your job and lose your focus. If your mind is somewhere else then you won’t focus. Give your job your undivided attention. Leave social media for the breaks you have every two hours or when you get home.
Eat well and stay hydrated
Eating a healthy breakfast can improve your concentration and attention. It is difficult to concentrate when you are hungry. If it is possible, have a snack such as nuts and chocolate bars at your desk. You can eat snacks when you feel hungry and reenergize. Staying hydrated can help to keep you focus and energized during the day. Have a water bottle at your desk so you can sip when you feel tired and dehydrated.
Get a good night rest
Fatigue can contribute to the lack of concentration. A good night rest can help you to focus better at work. You need at least 7 hours of sleep. Staying up late at night will make you tired in the morning. You don’t want to be sleepy and tired at work. Go to bed early in order to take on the day ahead.
Organize your workspace
Working in a messy environment can be quite disturbing. Organizing your work space will help you to focus and do your job efficiently. The environment plays an instrumental role in your ability to concentrate. In a clean and organized environment, you can concentrate easily. Make sure your files and paper are not scattered all over your desk.
Enjoy what you do
Motivation may be a lacking factor that can affect your focus at work. You will be more motivated and focused if you enjoy what you do. Think of something you like about the job even if you hate it. Your thoughts are very powerful. Think about positive things and you will see how your perceptions will change. You pay more attention when your interest become genuine. You will find your job more fulfilling if you concentrate on enjoying it.
Staying focused at work is something you may struggle with. Lack of focus and concentration can hinder productivity. If you find that you are spending too much time on the phone at work then it is time to turn it off. Taking breaks can help to improve your focus at work. It is mandatory in most workplaces.
In an 8-hour work day, the average worker is productive for less than 3 hours . Whether you’re working from home or in an office, you probably struggle with focusing on work all throughout the day. You might start out with great focus and motivation but hit a wall after lunch and find yourself on your phone instead of completing your work tasks.
You may feel extremely motivated to work all day, but simply can’t get your mind to stay focused on one task. This can be frustrating and end up costing you a ton of money you can be earning. Luckily, there are ways to improve your focus during the day, so you can get all your tasks done and feel accomplished. Keep reading for some life-changing tips on improving focus during the work day!
1. Start Your Day Off with Yoga
Yoga is scientifically proven to increase brain function, which includes the ability to focus, improved memory, and improved cognition. This is because yoga works to help you connect with your breath, which increases blood flow to the brain. Yoga also requires you to practice focusing during your practice, and the more you practice, the more you’ll be able to focus on one task at a time.
Also, yoga will help connect you to your body. You may be wondering how that can help you focus more during work, but consider this: how many hours a day do you sit hunched over a computer typing? Do you ever have to stop working because your back or neck is starting to hurt? Yoga will help keep your body loose and allow you to stretch those problem areas so they won’t keep you from working throughout the day.
2. Start Time-Blocking
Writing to-do lists is a popular way to keep track of what you need to do, and what tasks you’ve already completed. It gives people a sense of accomplishment to cross things off a list and helps people feel more organized about all the tasks they need to complete. But it’s time to take your to-do lists one step further.
Instead of simply writing your to-do lists and attempting to go down the list completing everything, start creating time blocks. You will set aside a specific time of day to complete a specific task, and you won’t do anything else during that time. Your time-blocking could look something like this:
- 9:00 A.M.-11:00 A.M.: Complete the hardest task.
- 11:30 A.M.-1:00 P.M.: Complete the second hardest task.
- 1:00 P.M.-2:00 P.M.: Lunch.
- 2:00 P.M.-3:00 P.M.: Purge your inbox.
- 3:00 P.M.-4:30 P.M.: Complete one or two more tasks.
- 4:30 P.M.-5:00 P.M.: Wrap-up work for the day.
Obviously, your time-blocking may look completely different than this, but it gives you a general idea of how to write it out. You can give yourself a ten-minute break between time blocks to take a walk, go on your phone, or do something else completely non-work related.
3. Avoid the Post-Lunch Slump
Do you ever feel extremely unmotivated or unable to focus after eating lunch? It’s common to hit a wall in productivity after taking a lunch break. But why is that?
The reason you’re feeling tired after eating is because your body is using energy to digest the food. The heavier, more processed foods will take up a lot more energy to digest than a light salad. So instead of opting for a cheeseburger and fries for lunch, try to keep it light and eat things that won’t require a ton of energy to digest.
Light salads, lean proteins, fruits, and other healthier options will not only keep you focused and motivated but will greatly benefit your overall health. Also, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Being hydrated will help you digest food much easier.
If you still feel a post-lunch slump, consider doing easier tasks that don’t require as much focus or brain power to complete. It would be a great time to go through your inbox and reply to any emails you have waiting for you.
4. Keep Distractions to a Minimum
One of the biggest reasons you can’t focus during the day is because our lives are full of distractions . There is always something to look at on social media and we have notifications coming in throughout the day. It’s super easy to stop your productive work to text your sister back or look at your new friend request on Facebook.
But these distractions not only take up time in your workday, but they completely break your focus. By indulging these distractions, you’re telling your brain it’s okay to not focus on work. This can be detrimental to your productivity over time.
So, it’s time to stop the distractions. Put your phone on do not disturb and turn off push notifications for social media. You can pick and choose who to mute, so you can still get notifications from work colleagues, but turn off notifications from the group chat with your whole family.
5. Use the Pomodoro Technique
If you’re having an off-day and you’re really struggling to focus at all, try using the popular Pomodoro technique throughout the day.
The idea is that you will focus for a short amount of time, depending on what you think you can do. If you’re really struggling, just try focusing for 25 minutes on one task, then take a 5-minute break. During those 25 minutes, put your phone away and only do the one task you have in front of you. Try not to let your mind wander and just remember you only have to focus for that short amount of time.
Once you’ve completed one 25-minute focus period and one 5-minute break, you’ve completed a Pomodoro. You should repeat this four times, and then you get 20-30 minute break from work. Keep repeating this until your work day is done and you’ll find you’ve gotten just as much work done as you would get done any other day.
Improve Your Focus to Become a More Productive Person
Not only does improving focus help you get more work done, but it’ll help you in other areas of life too. Don’t let hours go by wasted anymore and take back control of your life. It may take time to implement all of these practices, but once you do you’ll be shocked out how much more you get done throughout the day.
For some more helpful tips on focus and motivation, check out Futuramo’s productivity blog page today!
About the author
Haley is a graduate student at the University of South Florida and currently works as a freelance blogger for several different niches. She enjoys writing about productivity, mental health and well-being, and living a healthy lifestyle.
A recent UC Irvine study showed that it takes up to 23 minutes to recover from a distraction–so it’s no wonder that work environments full of social busybodies and rich in shiny objects can drive down productivity.
People are inundated with stimulation and requests for their attention, leaving them with little to no uninterrupted time to focus on their work. In fact many company are now eschewing the open office in favor of less noisy and more focused work environments.
The likelihood of being distracted is directly related to the amount of pull something is having on your attention and indirectly related to the interest you have in your task. When you’re completely engrossed in what you’re doing, you’ll shut out everything around you.
The professional basketball player at the free throw line, for example, can completely shut out the thousands of screaming fans. However, when you are only marginally interested in what you’re doing, then you might turn your attention at the slightest prompt. Increasing your ability to focus will come from balancing those two types of interest level.
It’s also important to know your triggers. For instance, I know I’m highly visual. I can be intensely focused on a task and not hear a sound, but if there’s a television display in my field of vision, I can’t help but look. Other people I know can have a wall of screens in front of them and not blink, but someone talking behind them can cause them to use earplugs.
If you’re stuck in a distraction-rich environment, here are 18 things you can do to reduce the chance that your attention will get pulled away from the work at hand:
Wear headphones, but don’t actually play any music. Headphones both cut down the noise and also serve as a deterrent from people bothering you. The bigger headphones, the better.
Put a sign on your door or on your desk saying “busy” or “I’m focusing” or “Do not interrupt” to let people know you shouldn’t be bothered right now.
Hang a signup sheet on your door or next to your desk with your calendar including empty slots indicating when you’re free to meet with them.
Use a white noise system to provide background noise or music without lyrics to drown out other people’s conversations and keyboard noises.
Schedule your day so that you’re working on projects that require the greatest amount of focus during naturally distraction-less times. If you have flexible hours, consider coming in an hour early to get some quiet time before everyone else arrives.
Use pomodoros to create a natural rhythm to you work and increase your mental capacity for focus.
Exercise or take a walk before sitting down to do important and difficult work. This practice increases your focus and energy level.
Try using deep breathing and meditation techniques to calm your mind before engaging in focus time.
If your mind is swimming with ideas or things to remember, try a mind sweep to get them on paper and free up your thinking space to focus on the important task at hand.
Breakdown big or difficult task into smaller and easier first steps to kick start your engagement and focus.
Find a partner and do a productivity challenge to see who can get more done in an hour or ninety minutes.
Go to a coffee shop or a co-working space where nobody can find you to get a few hours of distraction-free time outside of the office.
Get more sleep so you have the mental capacity and focus to stay alert and to focus on your work.
Redefine your goals and tasks to be more compelling and motivating so that you’re more engaged in the work.
Set mini goals and rewards for completing focused work sessions throughout the day. Use completion targets to challenge yourself. See how much you can get done by a certain time.
Eat foods that will increase your mental focus and give you the energy you need to stay productive for longer periods of time.
While we can’t always avoid every distraction, we can often greatly reduce our exposure to things that pull our attention away from our work. Knowing our weakness and putting in systems and devices to cut them off at the source is the key.
ThereвЂ™s no doubt that lack of focus keeps us from getting work done. Try these techniques to stay focused and on track at work.
ThereвЂ™s no doubt that lack of focus keeps us from getting work done. Try these techniques to stay focused and on track at work.
In a world of constant pings and competing priorities, it can be tough to stay on track during the workday.
ThereвЂ™s no doubt that lack of focus keeps us from getting work done efficiently, but its negative impacts are extending even further than that: itвЂ™s bringing down our mood and outlook in general.
In our recent study, 84 percent of people said that constant interruptions at work are making them less happy.
Next time you feel stress creeping up, try these techniques for staying focused at work. You might find that adding a little structure to the madness is all you need to reach your maximum productivity вЂ” and be a little happier.
1. Eisenhower Decision Matrix – Prioritize work by value.
WeвЂ™ve all experienced that disappointing moment: You complete a task only to realize that it was, well, useless. The Eisenhower Decision Matrix helps you eliminate those tasks from your workday, so you can focus on initiatives that make a big splash. ItвЂ™s simple, and you can draw it anywhere when you need to prioritize your work.
As IntercomвЂ™s Geoffrey Keating explained, вЂњIt places anything you could spend your time doing on two spectrums: one going from the most urgent possible task to the least urgent, the other going from critically important to totally inconsequentialвЂ”and using these as axes, divides your work into four quadrants.вЂќ
The goal of this exercise? To keep your focus on high-impact work, and cut the distracting fluff. Spend the vast majority of your time on tasks that land in Quadrants 1 and 2. For work in 3 or 4, see what you can eliminate. Ask yourself: Why is this task necessary?
вЂњBy вЂbatchingвЂ™ urgent and important work, we minimize the switching costs involved in moving from different types of work,вЂќ Keating said. вЂњIt allows us to work on the most valuable initiatives and, more importantly, finish them.вЂќ
2. Deep Work – Be honest about which tasks require your full attention.
Some tasks can be done while chatting with your coworkers or sitting in a buzzing open office space. Other tasks require you to draw the figurative blinds and block out the external world for a while. And thatвЂ™s perfectly okay. Labeling your вЂњdeep workвЂќ helps you be more self-aware about the environment you need to accomplish certain tasks.
вЂњIt’s important to make the differentiation between shallow and deep work when we’re talking about distractions,вЂќ HelpDocs Customer Education Lead Matt Bradford-Aunger noted.
вЂњWith shallow work, a few distractions aren’t that big a deal,вЂќ he said. вЂњIt’s the deep work like development or content creation вЂ” where being вЂin the zoneвЂ™ is critical to getting the job done вЂ” we find most hindered by distraction and context switching.вЂќ
To try out the deep work technique, spend 10 minutes in the morning going through your to-do list. Label activities as вЂњdeepвЂќ or вЂњshallowвЂќ. Then schedule your calendar accordingly. You can put вЂњdeepвЂќ initiatives in the morning when youвЂ™re most focused, or schedule вЂњshallowвЂќ tasks intermittently to give yourself a brain break between tough tasks вЂ” just pick a schedule that agrees with your working style.
Last, donвЂ™t be afraid to tell your team about your deep work time. Whether itвЂ™s putting on headphones, working from home, or setting your Slack status, make it known to your team when youвЂ™re cracking down, so they can respect your focus time.
3. Batching – Knock out short tasks together.
Being вЂњon a rollвЂќ feels great: youвЂ™re checking tasks off your to-do list, left and right. ThatвЂ™s where batching helps: you can get in the groove and figure out the most efficient way to do something.
вЂњBatching is my secret weapon for productivity,вЂќ explained TeamweekвЂ™s Emily McGee. вЂњWith batching, I do the same task or type of task for an extended period of time. For example, instead of doing keyword research and coming up with new blog post ideas every day, I spend two full days at the beginning of the month doing keyword research and filling in the content calendar.вЂќ
вЂќBatching requires you to be organized and plan ahead, but it saves you tons of time and ensures you aren’t context switching,вЂќ she said. вЂњI batch everything from writing emails to attending meetings, and it makes me much more productive.вЂќ
4. Pomodoro – Avoid вЂњNow what?вЂќ syndrome.
Ever find that youвЂ™re able to focus better when youвЂ™re on a tight schedule? The Pomodoro Technique gives you strict timing to help you blast through tasks and avoid distraction.
Pomodoro, named after a tomato-shaped timer, helps you train your brain to stay on track for short periods of time. It capitalizes on a sense of urgency to help you keep plowing through your work.
вЂњIt enables you to move through your tasks without having to think about what to do next,вЂќ said Sophie Worso from Focus Booster, an app that uses the Pomodoro Technique. ItвЂ™s pretty simple:
Set your timer for 25 mins, and start working.
When the timeвЂ™s up, take a short 5-minute break.
Repeat this for 4 intervals of 25 minutes.
After the fourth working session, take a longer break, (25 to 30 minutes)
WhatвЂ™s nice about Pomodoro is the feeling of growth and accomplishment: you get better at focusing for the entire 25 minutes over time, and you feel rewarded with a break at the end of each work session.
5. SMART Framework – Set attainable goals.
ItвЂ™s a lot easier to stay focused when you have a goal that you actually feel like you can achieve. Assess what you’re working on. If your goal is:
canвЂ™t be measured, or
not really existent.
then youвЂ™re more likely to fall into the context switching trap.
As Max Benz from Filestage points out, the SMART goals template is an old favorite technique that can help you plan reasonable daily and long term goals.
вЂњPlan out where you need to be a month from now, a year from now or even longer. Put notes or a calendar on your wall so even when you do occasionally get bogged down in the details, you always remember where youвЂ™re trying to get to,вЂќ Benz said.
Take back your focus
вЂњThe best way to become more productive is not to increase your focus, but to decrease your distractions.вЂќ
On days when youвЂ™re feeling extra distracted, just remember, sometimes physically removing yourself and taking a walk outside is the easiest way to clear your head.
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Collaboration can be transformative. When your team works together, вЂњI did it,вЂќ becomes вЂњWe did it!вЂќ
5 easy team building games and activities to bring remote teams together
Remote work means trying twice as hard to get the team to interact. But cheesy icebreakers on Zoom aren’t the only option. Here are 5 team building games and activities you can implement this week to bring the team together.
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In a world filled with instant access to information, coworkers and friends, finishing a solid eight hours of work seems nearly impossible. Avoiding distractions, however, is not a Herculean task. Just like getting to the gym each day, staying focused while at work is a matter of building good habits.
1. Set clear goals
Instead of saying, “I’m going to work a solid eight hours every day,” make a list of your top priorities for the week. This helps you avoid reacting to every distraction that comes up. Review your list each morning and decide—realistically—what tasks you can accomplish that day. Be concrete: “I’m going to finish steps 1-3 of the project by noon.”
2. Work in 60-90-minute blocks
As we work, our alertness drops off, increasing the lure of distractions. Set a timer and take a break at the end of each cycle. Reset your focus by listening to music for a few minutes, taking a short walk, or going for lunch.
3. Turn off the world
Let’s face it, the world is a distracting place. Avoid temptation by severing all ties. This includes email, office phones, cell phones and your coworkers. This might require finding a quiet place away from your office to work—such as booking a conference room or hiding out in your office. If you need to, set up a system for urgent messages to reach you. This doesn’t include where to go for happy hour.
4. Schedule distractions
Distractions are not all bad, but you need to make them work for you. Use them as reward for a solid chunk of work. Start out with distractions that are good for you, such as working out or calling your friends. If Facebook and Twitter are your thing, block off time in your schedule to post or browse other people’s updates, but stick to your schedule. Remember, you control the distractions.
5. Practice not being distracted
Meditation is a great way to do this because it’s just you and your thoughts. If that’s not your thing, practice single-tasking throughout your day. At lunch, just eat. Don’t read the newspaper or check your email at the same time. In meetings, don’t doodle in your notebook or play with your phone.
6. Pay attention to yourself
Start to notice when and how you get distracted. What thoughts happen just before that? Are you tired, hungry, or bored? As you learn what triggers your distractions, you can head them off before you slip into an hour-long IM chat.
7. Use technology to your advantage
From blocking out distracting websites to tracking how much time you spend surfing the web, many apps can actually help you stay focused. Once you identify what your habits are, pick one that will help you meet your goals, but don’t let these become distractions in themselves.
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Uncertainty can make it tough to focus, but it is possible to stay grounded.
There’s a lot going on in our country and in the world, and it can be tough to focus on work. We’ve been going through so much for so long, it’s fair to feel overwhelmed. You’re concerned about the coronavirus, and you’ve been on the edge of your seat following election coverage for the last week. You’re making plans in response to your child’s university announcing classes will be online-only for next semester, and you’re staying up to date on your company’s financial health because of its impact on your job security. But through it all, it’s critical to stay focused on the responsibilities of work, family and home—and to find a way to stay grounded in the process.
Here are the three ways to stay stable and sound when there is so much swirl surrounding us all.
It may sound selfish to start with yourself, but to be your best you’ll need to begin from a place of strength and clarity. You can provide this for yourself.
- Your identity. Clarify your values, your priorities and your roles. Regardless of what’s going on in the environment, you believe in key principles and have goals for yourself and your family. In addition, you are a parent, partner or neighbor. At work, you are a leader, a team member or a project manager. We tend to know ourselves through the roles we play in our community, so remind yourself about the consistency of who you are, regardless of what’s going on around you.
- Your influence. Sociologically speaking, the primary way we learn is through watching other people and their behaviors. This is true even when we’re not conscious of the influence of others. Recognize how much impact you have on the people and situations around you. Demonstrate positivity and resilience. Collaborate effectively with others, even if you don’t agree with them all the time. Your stability and optimism will have important ripples in your community.
- Your learning. Focus on what you can learn. Hard times give you the opportunity to stretch your own capabilities. In addition, disagreements provide the chance to listen to others’ points of view and learn from them. Stay open to challenges so you can broaden your perspective, your thinking and better understand new ideas.
In the middle of a storm, work can be safe harbor.
- Your contribution. Your company is counting on you to bring your best. Follow through and focus on the deliverables you must create. Sometimes work can be its own burden. But in turbulent times, the normalcy of a colleague waiting for your report or a customer in need can be reassuring reminders that the world continues, even in the face of uncertainty.
- Your future. When things are uncertain, your character is especially evident in your actions and responses. This can be a great time to gain appreciation at work which is good for career growth. Demonstrate stability, maturity and consistency through difficult times. Don’t let your productivity miss a beat and continue to deliver solid performance. When your excellence is predictable, even when everything else seems unpredictable, your organization will thank you.
Chances are, if you’re struggling with things, your colleagues are as well.
- Your empathy. Your wellbeing benefits when you can expand your focus from yourself to others. Tune into your colleagues and offer support. Ask them how they’re doing. Listen, and be compassionate.
- Your energy. Hard times can deplete energy. If you see a coworker struggling to focus or get through a project, offer to help solve a problem or work through a thorny issue. A helping hand not only makes their work better, but also improves their engagement because they draw energy from your camaraderie.