Are you able to focus on one task for an extended period? Are you determined to finish a job in a specific time frame? If not, it might be an indication that you need to change your daily habits. If you want to learn how to improve focus at work, now is the best time to do so.
How to improve 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 ethics. Some 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. I tend to work best when I have a clean desk to sit at instead of having an office full of clutter.
In this post, I’m going to lay out several approaches on how to remain focused at work. It’s not to stay focused at times, but making some changes here and there can help in the long run. The following points include:
1.) Beginning your day by completing the most challenging task
2.) Writing out assignments each hour
3.) Working in time chunks
4.) Eliminating endless distractions
5.) Stop reacting & stick to what you’re doing
6.) Setting your daily goals (short term/long-term)
How to improve focus at work
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 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. 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.
I haven’t tried this approach before, but I’ll certainly consider it. I’m not strict about having to time myself for the most part. But it’s something to look into if I want to challenge myself into getting more things done. Some days may go slower, while other days tend to run quicker for me.
Work in time chunks
Another best practice is to separate work periods in 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 into 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 keep my mind refreshed and energetic. Compared to working two hours or more non-stop, 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 open, 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 on the things that matter the most.
Set daily goals: focus on the big picture
Setting goals can sometimes be challenging. It can be challenging to focus on a 10-year goal at the moment, but not if you start with smaller ones today. By setting smaller goals today, you set yourself up for long-term success down the road. It’s easier to start small than to focus on one big goal a decade from now.
How I set short-term & long-term goals
I’ll admit I have unrealistic long-term goals. I see myself achieving massive success ten years from now, but it’s harder to see that at the moment.
So what do I do? I set smaller goals that are achievable today. These are short-term goals that will bring me one step closer to achieving my bigger goals down the road. So starting little now can help you make the much more difficult goals later on.
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.
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?
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