Completing all the tasks at hand during the workday is one thing but staying focused on them to be as productive as possible, is another completely different challenge.
Between phone notifications, text messages, incoming emails, and the chatting with colleagues (if you’re in the office) staying focused at work has never been more difficult.
Luckily, like any other skill, having the ability to tune out distractions is something that can be improved with practice and a few good strategies. Here are 12 simple ways to stay focused whilst you’re at work.
1. PLAN OUT YOUR DAY
Every day before getting started on your tasks, write down the 3 most important things you need to complete by the end of the day. This will help you to clearly identify what tasks need prioritising for the day.
Don’t forget to plan your breaks in there as well. Your brain is not capable of working for 8 hours straight, it needs time to rest and recover.
2. ORGANISE YOUR TO DO LIST
An unorganised to-do list full of unfinished tasks can have a negative effect on your productivity. You can find yourself changing between tasks without actually completing one.
When organising your to-do list, break your tasks down into 3 different lists: daily, weekly, and monthly. Then organise these lists according to priorities, so you know which tasks need to be done first.
3. SET YOURSELF DEADLINES
If you feel no pressure to complete a task, you’ll likely procrastinate on it twice as much. Set clear deadlines for all the tasks in your to-do list. By doing so, you create a sense of urgency, making it easier to achieve the state of flow and truly focus on an important task.
If you feel no pressure to complete a task, it’s more than likely you’re going to procrastinate a lot more than usual. By creating urgency, you are more likely to truly focus on the tasks at hand.
4. ORGANISE YOUR WORKSPACE
To have a clear mind and concentrate solely on the tasks at hand, you need a workspace that resembles this. Tidy your desk, organise your folders, and eliminate any other potential distractions.
Also, if you are easily distracted by colleagues, ask your manager if you can either move to a quieter part of the office or have partitions at the end of your desk to physically block out distractions.
5. TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS
You can’t fully focus on your tasks unless you can free yourself from phone notifications. Go into your phone settings and turn of notifications for social media, Email, and other irrelevant apps that send you regular notifications.
Make a habit of only checking your phone every once in a while to see if someone has tried to contact you. Constantly checking your phone can be a huge distraction and will make you lose focus on the task at hand.
6. KEEP YOUR PHONE OUT OF SIGHT
If switching your notifications off doesn’t work, then maybe the solution is to completely remove it from your sight.
You’re twice less likely to check your phone when it’s not in your eyesight. Try putting your phone in your bag or pocket, because you don’t want to end up forgetting that you left it in your drawer at the office.
7. GET IN THE “FLOW”
Before you look for external reasons that affect your concentration, take a minute to evaluate yourself. Are you really in the right state of mind when working on your tasks?
“Flow” is a state of mind where you are at the peak of your performance and you are completely focused on completing the tasks in front of you. To get in this state of mind, try to focus all your energy on working on this one task and avoid being distracted by any others.
If you also struggle with this, try to leave your task until closer to the deadline, this will create a sense of urgency and make you work more efficiently.
8. BREAK DOWN TIME CONSUMING TASKS
Instead of tackling one huge task, break it down into sections and that can be completed in a shorter amount of time. By doing this, you’ll feel more rewarded each time part of the task is completed.
More importantly, you will have a better understanding of what needs to be done next for you to complete the task efficiently.
9. TAKE REGULAR BREAKS
Nobody is able to work for hours and hours without losing focus for some amount of time. It’s a lot better to take regular breaks throughout the day, rather than working until you feel overwhelmed and NEED a break.
Make sure you have 10 minutes away from your computer when taking your break. Spend your time making a coffee, chatting with colleagues, or stretching your legs. Just make sure you stay away from your computer to give your eyes and brain a rest.
10. DEDICATE A SPECIFIC TIME TO CERTAIN TASKS
Having a full day of complete focus is difficult and requires good planning. A way to make sure you have a good few hours of productivity during the day is to schedule 2-3 hours to completely focus on one task without any distractions.
By planning ahead, you get into the habit of being completely focused for at least a few hours each day.
11. AVOID SOCIAL MEDIA
Demanding tasks tend to tire out minds, and because of this when you get tempted to check your phone and look at social media to give your mind a rest. But that isn’t how it works.
Checking social media actually has a similar affect on your mind as the task you are working on, as your brain has to process lots of information.
12. SET A SPECIFIC TIME TO CHECK EMAILS
We have already mentioned the importance of turning off notifications. However, avoiding phone notifications makes you more inclined to check your emails coming through to your computer.
Opening emails can have a negative effect on your focus and throw you off the task at hand. To stop this, set specific times during the day where you can spend 10 minutes catching up on any emails you have received.
Your ability to concentrate is like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the more it will develop. It will be difficult at first but with practice and dedication, you can train yourself to become more focused.
We would love to hear some of the ways you stay focused at work. Share your tips in the comment below or on our social media.
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