Distractions are everywhere in the modern world, and the office is no exception. For those struggling to stay focused at work, here are four tips to help you get back on track.
In the workplace, it’s tempting to want to work on multiple tasks at once, especially if you have a lot on your plate. Although this method seems like a timesaver, dividing your attention between projects actually decreases your energy levels, quality of work, and overall productivity. Instead of bouncing between different tasks, narrow your focus to one project at a time. This doesn’t mean that your other projects have to fall to the wayside. To avoid tunnel vision, designate specific chunks of time throughout the day to complete each thing on your to-do list. You can sort them by priority, time sensitivity, or the amount of time you predict they will take. By taking it one task at a time, you can direct all of your energy towards doing the best job possible.
Although we primarily associate focus with the brain, your attention span and concentration are heavily affected by physical factors. If you’ve ever tried to work while you’re tired, hungry, or sick, you know that poor physical wellness can cause productivity to take a serious hit. Staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and keeping consistent exercise habits are all essential towards workplace productivity. In a culture that often prioritizes professional achievement over physical health, it’s important to remember that doing so is extremely counterproductive. In reality, the two go hand in hand!
Unbroken focus doesn’t always occur naturally; sometimes, it’s up to you to create a distraction-free environment for yourself. If possible, work in a quiet setting away from other activities. If you’re working from home, let those around you know that you need some time to concentrate. Keep your phone out of reach, and silence all non-essential notifications.
It’s also useful to know what kinds of environments work best for you. While some people prefer to work around others, some find it impossible to concentrate unless they’re alone. Some people find music distracting, while others find it inspiring. Through trial and error, you can discover and implement the finer details of your ideal work environment.
Although it’s good to work hard, going overboard can lead to burnout, which causes more harm than good. Taking regular breaks can help avoid this, since it gives your brain time to recalibrate and decompress. Temporarily stepping away from a project can help you view it with fresh eyes, which is especially beneficial if you’re feeling stuck on a certain task. Make sure to check in with yourself every so often to make sure you’re not not feeling overwhelmed or overextended. If you find yourself drifting in and out of focus, it may be time for a time-out!
Like any skill, improving focus comes with practice. However, there are many tips and tricks to make it easier, even for someone with little experience. Next time you’re struggling to focus in the workplace, try some of these tips to maximize your productivity.