We all know how difficult it can sometimes be to stay focused at work, with the pressures of life and deadlines occupying your thoughts.
With so many distractions available, it is easy to seek solace in the internet, that smartphone came you’re playing or waste time on menial tasks.
This week we have our top six tips for staying focused at work, to help you function more efficiently and productively.
1) HIDE THE SMARTPHONE
From the second we wake up to the second we go to sleep, these devices designed to make our lives easier beep, ring and vibrate their way into your routine.
Last year Time magazine reported that the average American checks their phone 46 times per day. For people aged 18-24 who are now entering the workplace, this number jumps to 74 times per day.
With such frequent usage rates, it is little wonder that working with your smartphone less than a metre from your hand can affect your ability to focus. Hiding your smartphone in a drawer or bag, even for an hour at a time, can greatly increase your chances of working efficiently for a more sustained period.
2) CUT BACK ON THE MEETINGS
As useful and necessary as it may be to sometimes call a meeting, this should not be your default way of communicating.
According to a recent article by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), ‘studies indicate that we spend anywhere from 35%–55% of our time, and sometimes much more, in meetings.’
The popularity of stand up meetings, which are believed to be able to cut meeting times by up to 36%, demonstrates that more and more professionals are catching on to the link between shorter meetings and better focus.
3) BE SELECTIVE
While it is tempting to work on multiple tasks simultaneously, this is not always the best way to work efficiently.
For inc.com, choosing your focus is a useful tool to channel your productivity and ensure you complete the task at hand to the best of your ability.
Inc offers this advice;
“Name 3-5 specific areas that need your attention if you're going to successfully attain your vision, and write those down under your statement of what you want. Identify the aspects of that vision that deserve your time, energy and attention right now.”
4) TRAIN YOUR BRAIN
Goodman argues that the pressure to multitask has caused our brains to become accustomed to distraction, meaning that we need to re-train ourselves to focus for even short bursts of time.
She quotes co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute David Rock as saying ‘start small, maybe five minutes per day, and work up to larger chunks of time. If you find your mind wandering, just return to the task at hand. It’s just like getting fit.’
5) FEED YOUR FOCUS
For Fast Company, an important element in helping you focus is the nourishment you give your body.
According to research carried out by the Center of Nutrition, Learning, and Memory and a number of U.S universities, the plant-based compound called Lutein can help individuals focus and maintain their attention.
Found naturally in foods known for their superfood properties such as spinach and kale, the research shows that rather than turning to caffeine and sugar to fuel your productivity, it may well be more effective to maintain a healthy and vitamin-filled diet.
In the same way that exercise is a useful tool to clear your mind and give your energy levels a boost, eating well and being healthy can help you feed your focus.
6) TAKE BREAKS
While hiding distractions and training your brain to focus for longer periods is good advice, it is important to remember that this doesn’t mean you can’t take breaks.
Taking five or ten minutes away from your work at regular intervals, whether that’s simply to stand up and chat to a colleague or take a quick walk around the block, can vastly improve your ability to focus when you are working.
For popular social media site Mashable, one way you can strike that balance is by using an app. These simple timer apps help you to manage your time and separate your day into phases of work and breaks.
Building on the by now tried and tested Pomodoro Technique, Mashable argues that knowing you have an allotted time to work can act as a motivator and streamline your focus, rather than allowing you to spend hours procrastinating your way through a task.
Whichever combination of tips works for you, there are ample ways you can improve your focus and boost your productivity at work.
For more tips on how to work better and improve efficiency, contact us about our training workshops using the links below.
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