6 Ways to Better Your Focus at Work
There are many reasons why we might find it difficult to focus at work but there are a number of practical things we can do to improve our focus. Staying focussed at work will provide your employer with many benefits and may even lead to a pay rise for you! Having a focused and productive day at work often leaves us feeling satisfied and proud of our achievements.
Let’s be honest, we have days of feeling frustrated, non-productive, and then times of great achievements and everything in between.
Before we look at ways to increase our focus at work, let’s delve into some of the challenges many of us face at work in the job that often robs us of our ability to remain focussed and attentive to the task at hand.
Let’s start with one of the biggest modern distractions. Yes, your mobile phone and if you don’t believe me, count how many times you check your phone in a day. You might be surprised, is it 10, 50 or upwards of a 100 times? Today there are even is apps to do that for you. This is a challenging issue because we are social beings and we like to keep in touch with the people who are important to us. But as you know, a lot of the social media interactions or alerts are not necessarily useful and if anything take us away from what we are involved in.
There are other things that can rob us of our focus such as working in a disorganised environment, health challenges, lack of job clarity & support, distractions from other staff members, mind chatter & worries, job fit and I am sure there others distractions that are unique to you. Don’t be hard on yourself, its normal and we all struggle with a lack of focus from time to time.
The good news is that with a few small tweaks you can improve your focus and you can be more productive. Here are my top 6 Ways to Focus Better at Work.
- Organise your Workstation
Sometimes our desk or work area can reflect our state of mind, and a messy work area can compound our sense of being disorganised and distracted. By sorting your workstation out regularly such as undertaking filing, putting things away, having it ergonomically set up and clean will do wonders for your clarity of mind and is also a great way to start the day. Having a clear slate after each task with avoid your brain getting lost in the ‘clutter’ and you will be ready for the next job.
- Have a Plan
Without a plan we tend to be pulled in different directions and not completing the important tasks. Darting between jobs often leads to mistakes and feeling overwhelmed. Having a plan will help you prioritise what is important and will keep you focused on the task at hand. By simply having a list as jobs come in and prioritising them with a number can do wonders. If you feel like you are consistently interrupted or overloaded, perhaps sharing your list with your supervisor that way both of you can prioritise what is most important. Reviewing your plan during the day will help you have a sense of control over your workload.
- Take Short Breaks
Sometimes trying to ‘fight’ the lack of focus can have the opposite effect and the best thing you can do is take a short break. Our brains are not designed to remain highly focussed for long periods of time, and spending too much time at your desk in front of a computer can lead to a sore neck, headache and fatigue. Knowing your signs is the first step to addressing your lack of focus. A short break can reset your brain for the next task. Perhaps a walk around the office, coffee break or a stretch. If you find yourself procrastinating, it is probably a good sign to do something different. Notice your body signs also, are you feeling fidgety or sore, perhaps it’s time to have a break.
- Manage Technology
Your mobile phone could be your biggest enemy while working. Constant beeps, Facebook notifications, emails chimes could distract you and result in wasting your precious time. Would you believe that the average employee spends 56 minutes per day using their smart phones?
Here are a few ideas that may be worth trying:
- Put your phone out in your draw (out of sight out of mind)
- Check your phone during breaks and lunch
- Put your phone on silent
- Set your phone with a special ring tone if it’s a family emergency
- Count how many times you check your phone and aim to reduce it by 10 percent the next day and so on (set realistic goals)
- Have a friendly competition within the office around reducing unnecessary phone use
One of the other activities that can be stressful and robbing you of focussed time is your email. It is a necessary communication tool but often overused. I am sure that every day you get numerous emails – both professional and personal. Do you know that an average employee spends 1.5 hours a day sending out an approximate of 56 emails?
Some ways to manage emails could include:
- Having a separate email address for work and personal purposes
- Designating ‘email time’ i.e. once per hour. Remember if its urgent, the person can call you.
- Turning off email alerts off or using filters to determine how you would like to receive your emails may help also
- Finding Your Flow
All of us are different. We have different habits and different styles of working. Finding out what works for you is the key as you are unique. We all have different needs, skills and abilities. Think about times when you felt like you are in your flow, what were you doing? Trying different things and noting what works will go a long way to you spending more time in your flow and less time procrastinating.
- Training Your Brain
Like going to the gym and strengthening your body, training your brain will help your brain be more focussed, resilient and agile. There are different ways people train their brains such as learning an instrument or language, practicing a skill intentionally, practicing mindfulness and using brain training technology. One of the key brain training technologies is NeurOptimal® Brain training and without any effort your behalf, you can see all the benefits of an optimised brain.
About the Author Steve Phillis (Australia) is counsellor, speaker, educator, NeurOptimal® Rep and Instructor