Do you find yourself struggling to remain focused? Are there moments where you’re easily distracted by other things? Your cell phone ringing, the email inbox alert going off, and so many other things going. With all of these things going on, you may ask yourself, “How do I stay focused at work?” Staying focused while maintaining productivity may not be easy, but it’s possible to master this skill.
How do I stay focused at work: How do I train my mind to stay focused?
With some parts of the world resuming to daily life in 2020, now is the best time to regain focus and look into what matters the most. Whether you’re working at home or returning to the office, mind as well cross off some bad habits you ‘ve practiced in the last few months. It’s a good time to retrain your brain so you can stay focused and achieve maximum productivity.
In this post, I will go over some practical tips to maintain your focus at work. They can be applied at the office, and if you’re at home. Especially if you’ve become more accustomed to virtual meetings, these are useful tips to keep in mind. The following points include:
1.) Planning before meetings
2.) Learning to say “NO”
3.) Recharging & take breaks
4.) Scheduling your to-do list items
5.) Turning off notifications
How do I stay focused at work:
Plan before meetings
Meetings must be conducted in the right manner. For that to happen, it’s a good idea to plan before the meeting takes place. If you’re the facilitator, make sure to have an outline of the main points you want to cover. Having some type of list helps so you can keep your meetings straight to the point.
If you’re taking part in the meeting as an attendee, be ready to take notes and come with any questions. If possible, if you believe that the meeting is not relevant to you, politely decline if your input is not needed.
Twitter CEO’s best practices
Jack Dorsey, founder, and CEO of Twitter, utilize his meetings in the best approaches possible. As the head of a significant social media platform, he needs to use that time wisely. He once tweeted his practices by saying,
“Most of my meetings are Google-Docs-based, starting with 10 minutes of reading and commenting in the doc…This makes time for everyone to get on the same page, allows us to work from many locations, and get to critical thinking faster.”
Dorsey always makes sure everyone was on the same page when it came to the meeting topics. When everyone is on the same page, the quicker they can move on and get to more critical thinking activities. It helps make meetings more efficient and less of a drag on everyone else to attend.
Learning when to say “NO”
Knowing when to say “no” can do more good than harm. Sure, saying “no” can mean a lot of things- indeed, the quick assumption is feeling rejected. But when you’re the boss or in management, you have to make tough calls that won’t be well-received every time. They may not sound right at the moment but can be for long-term impacts. Even for time-management purposes, saying “no” is necessary to stay focused on accomplishing the right tasks.
Although I’ve never been in a leadership or management role, there were times I had to say “no” to take on additional tasks. It’s not that I didn’t want to take on the extra work. I knew that I had too much on my plate. If I had said yes to the extra work, I might have risked burnout and felt frustrated. It would have lowered my productivity for the time being and the last thing I wanted to be a bigger plate in front of me.
Take breaks & recharge
Taking breaks sounds like a no-brainer, but some people don’t make it a regular habit. It seems natural to do, but when you’re incredibly concentrated, it can be hard to break away from your work. If you plan on working for 45 minutes but ended up working two straight hours, that’s a big difference in time. The only downside is not giving your mind a quick refresh, as it needs to be recharged from time to time.
What I stick to doing for recharging my mind
I’ve gotten in the better habit of taking breaks. Some days, when I need to get a lot done, I may go work a little longer with taking a break. But for the most part, I do an excellent job of taking breaks regularly. My favorite practice is the Pomodoro technique. By working a 25-minute interval followed by a 5-minute break (then repeat a few more times), I feel much better. It certainly helps me get through a long workday.
It’s one thing to make a simple to-do list, but another thing to checking them off in a reasonable fashion. Most of the time, people will write out their to-do list and not get everything done in one day. Instead of taking this approach, it’s best to schedule those tasks and figure out how much time it’ll take to get those tasks done. According to Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, scheduling your duties in this manner can help make your workflow much more comfortable to go through.
How I schedule my tasks and use deep work
I think the subject of deep work isn’t understood much these days. It’s no wonder many people get distracted by social media and electronic usage. However, it’s something I’ve taken note of in the last several months. I’ve gotten in the habit of blocking out a few hours each day to work on deep work tasks. Usually, I’ll add time blocks to my calendar (I use Google calendar- more straightforward tool,) so I know when I need to stay focused. Also, I schedule them around times I tend to work the best.
Turn off your notifications
On the last point, it’s crucial to turn off notifications from your phone, tablet, and email/mobile apps. Information can be a common distraction that people struggle with avoiding. Some people need to have them on, but not always. When the time comes for deep work, that is when notifications should be turned off for maximum focus. By turning them off, it can make a big difference in achieving the work that needs to be done.
How I manage notifications
Getting rid of this bad habit helped me a lot early on. I use to work in an office environment where cell phone use was limited. It may have been a little too restrictive, but the workplace policies had good reasons for it (that is, to maximize productivity).
But even when I’m working at home doing other things, I’ll put my phone on a “Do Not Disturb” mode. It helps when I don’t want my phone ringing always (if it ever happened from time to time). Doing simple tasks such as turning off notifications can help in a small approach.
Overall, taking on the task of staying focused sounds effortless. But for some people, practicing it can be a little challenging at first. Maybe when starting, it takes time to adjust to. But after trying out some of the tips mentioned earlier, it’ll get easier to remain focused.
Keeping your phone notifications off is simple. If that works, keep going with that practice. If it’s harder to practice deep work, try breaking it down into shorter time blocks. Instead of two-three hour periods, try separate 30-minute chunks followed by 5-minute breaks. It’s easier to start out small than doing big tasks in the beginning. So those are some suggestions, but helpful when trying to master an important skill.
Have you tried any of the tips mentioned above? Are you able to maintain focus for an extended period?
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Eric is a time management consultant and owner of the blog, quitkillingtime.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time, personally and professionally. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of 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 likes to go for long walks out in nature and been taking Zumba classes every week at his local gym. You can follow Eric via Facebook and LinkedIn.