Can you focus on one task for a long time? Can you finish a job within a certain time? A change in your daily habits may be necessary if this is not the case. Right now is the right time to learn how to improve your focus at work.
What helps people stay focused?
In an ever-changing world of constant distractions, it’s becoming harder for people to stay focused. It can be due to a disorganized workspace, or not having the right mindset.
Each person is different when it comes to their work ethic. Some people need a quiet workspace, while others tend to work best in a noisy work environment. It all depends on each individual.
If it’s hard to remain focused when you have a messy desk, you probably should clean up your workstation. Or, if you need to change the way you do specific tasks, then that might be the best route.
In this post, I’m going to lay out several approaches to how to remain focused at work. It’s not to stay focused all the time, but making some changes here and there can help in the long run.
Begin with the most challenging task
Whenever you kick off your workday, prioritize the most challenging task to complete first. It might sound obvious, but some people don’t always do that. They may start their day by checking email or randomly surfing the web for a quick distraction.
Suppose there’s something more important to consider (such as a business report)- work on getting that done first thing.
Or, suppose you can’t get all of it done in one sitting, attempt to get half (or most of) the assignment out of the way.
What I do to start my day productively
I’ve gotten in the better habit of doing things randomly first thing. I stir away from checking email or going on social media, but instead, I’ll put my priorities right in front of me.
If I need to write an article, I’ll make sure to knock that out first. It may not be what I want to do, but I know certain things need to get done right away. It’s a good way for me not to put off things or procrastinate.
The worst thing I can do is put off a priority until the last minute and feel rushed to get something done. If I hurry and do a poor job, then that doesn’t do me any good.
Write out critical tasks each hour
One of the best ways to stay on track is to write out your tasks each hour. It may sound unnecessary, but it can add a sense of urgency to your to-do list.
The idea is to write out which jobs you need to get done, and then time yourself until you complete them. This practice can help rewire your brain to stay focused on the most critical tasks. By timing yourself, you’ll challenge yourself to get things done promptly.
Work in time chunks
Another best practice is to separate work periods into time chunks. You divide your time into segments followed by regular breaks.
It can work best for those who perform better in shorter work periods. Not everybody can work for more extended periods (say two-three hours of nonstop work). More so, the shorter time chunks can be a nice productivity boost.
How I manage my time chunks
I’ve mentioned before that I practice my work in small time chunks. I schedule my time in advance, and I’ll work in 25-30 minute periods. I’ll then take short 5-10 minute breaks before working another half-hour block or so.
I’m a fan of the Pomodoro technique, which many people have tried out before. I found that working half-hour blocks followed by short breaks kept my mind refreshed and energetic.
Compared to working two hours or more, it’s much better for me. It helps me get through my day quicker as well.
This one sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning again. If you expect to work with your cell phone ringing, email notifications going off, and your social media feed opening, that’s a recipe for disaster.
It’s worth asking if you’ll be able to concentrate at all. So for maximum focus, it’s best to put your cell phone away (or on silence mode), along with closing your email and social media feeds.
Some people need to have their email open, but make sure to keep it to a minimum.
My efforts for a distraction-free environment
Whenever I need to concentrate, I make the best effort to minimize my distractions. My email is closed, and I put my phone on a “Do Not Disturb” mode.
Usually, I like to listen to music designed to keep my mind focused. But whatever I can do to maximize my efforts, I make sure to act on it promptly.
Stop reacting & stick to what you’re doing
Most people get into the bad habit of reacting to things. What I mean is whenever something comes up, they’ll drop what they’re doing to give that other thing more attention.
For example, whenever an email or a text message comes in, someone will stop right away to respond to that message. It may be for a second, but it could end up lasting for several minutes or longer.
This example happens way too often, and people end up going down a rabbit hole of wasting time.
How I’ve managed to avoid reacting to life
Though I still struggle some days, I’ve managed to avoid reacting to things that come up instantly. When I need to stay focused, I’ll wait to respond to an incoming text message or phone call that may come up.
Unless it’s an emergency, I’ll avoid those types of scenarios whenever possible. But I’ve learned that it’s better not to go down this route.
It requires a change in mindset to maximize your productivity. It’s been a good lesson I’ve learned to save time and aim at the things that matter the most.
There are other approaches I could discuss, but these are some of the best tips to cover. Often, people overlook the small things that can get them off track.
Whether that’s responding to an email or a text message, it can throw away a lot of precious time. By applying some of the approaches mentioned earlier, it’ll be easier to stay focused during times when it matters the most. It’ll help save you time and feel less frustrated when things get out of control.
If you can learn how to use the tips effectively, you’ll get better at mastering the skill of staying focused. It’s a skill that is needed now more than ever. If you can learn it, you’ll be way ahead of everyone else.
Your Turn: How do you maintain focus at work?
Do you easily get distracted at work? Which one of the tips have you tried out, or are you willing to give yourself a challenge?
Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading them, and I’ll respond back promptly.
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Eric is the owner and chief editor of notimekillers.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. Eric is a firm believer in financial and time freedom, as he believes in financial independence and taking ownership of your time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can also connect with Eric via LinkedIn.