10 Hacks To Help You To Stay Focused At Work
Staying focused at work has never been more important and oh, look there's a puppy...
Just kidding, but losing focus can happen that quickly and according to a study from UC Irvine in the US, it can take about 23 minutes to bounce back from a distraction. Workplace interruptions can wind up costing a lot of time throughout the course of the day, and the study goes on to say that recovering from them can also increase stress, as us workers struggle to work faster to catch up with projects. Sound like you?
According to speaker, mentor and trainer Amanda Blesing, " Many of the executive women I work with tell me that focus is a real issue. They frequently wonder “when will I get the work done?” because they feel they spend all their time in meetings. Combined with open plan offices and time on LinkedIn and you have a recipe for disaster -- which leaves many wondering if creating a career that really counts is all it’s cracked up to be!"
But don't worry, it turns out you can train yourself to stay focused. You just need to stay focused long enough to do it...
Turn off your phone notifications during the day
Turn off the notifications on phones for a period of time during the day. Yes, we mean ALL of them. "Grab a geek if you need to, and have them disable notifications for all the noisy, irrelevant apps that invite you to upgrade, subscribe, rate, buy, or see the next breaking story. These notifications break down and eat away at your digital boundaries and will power to keep noise and distraction at bay," said consultant Nicholas McGill. Disable email notifications on your phone too -- if you're worried you may miss something important you can add an Out Of Office message to let people know when you'll get back to them.
Tackle the hardest stuff first
According to Lifehack, tackling your most difficult project first will give you a great sense of accomplishment at the top of your workday. Getting your hardest task out of the way creates a positive feeling of momentum for the day and you'll get the rest of your work done easily. Blesing agreed, and said prioritising is key. "At the beginning of each day ask yourself 'What’s the #1 thing that I can do today that will move the dial on my goal?' And do that first while you are fresh."
Set up an "email response time"... and stick to it
Set up a schedule for when you check and reply to emails. According to business site Inc., adding a response time policy to your email signature can help minimize distractions by setting up a boundary. Something like "I will have access to email between 930 and 11am or after 6pm -- I will respond to you during those times" should do the trick.
Use something called the Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro technique is the HIIT of the workplace... and while it isn't new, it's well worth investigating if you need help staying on top of tasks. It was first developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and it's a time-management method that works on the principle that you focus on a task for 25 minutes and then take a break for five minutes. You set a timer and off you go... After four stints, a longer break is recommended. "I use a timer on my phone and feel as though I get more done in 2 hours than I would have previously done in 6 hours. It’s amazing for productivity," Blesing told ten daily.
Take proper breaks
It may sound counter-intuitive but heading outside and getting fresh air, as well as stretching your legs, will help you concentrate when you're back at your desk. According to Lifehack, it’ll provide your mind with a mental break and chance to recuperate ready to hit the rest of those tasks stronger and harder. And business coach Bruce Eckfeldt agreed: "Exercise or take a walk before sitting down to do important and difficult work. This practice increases your focus and energy level."
Get enough sleep
According to Bruce Eckfeldt, this is crucial. "Get more sleep so you have the mental capacity and focus to stay alert and to focus on your work," he said.
Even though we're led to believe that we should be able to do many tasks at once, it turns out our brains are only supposed to handle one thing at a time. Focus on one thing and you’ll get through it much quicker and move onto the next thing, rather than trying to juggle four things at once, which will addle your brain.
READ MORE: How Not To Be An Arsehole At Work
Set yourself some mini goals during the day
Said Bruce Eckfeldt, "Set rewards for completing focused work sessions throughout the day. Use completion targets to challenge yourself. See how much you can get done by a certain time."
Inc. suggests that some healthy competition can be a great way to get more done everyday. Grab a friend or two in the office, and set up a productivity challenge to see who can get more done within a specific time frame.
Make a good old fashioned list
To-do lists are a great way to keep track of what needs to be done every day, every week, and also in the long-term.
Feature image: Getty