You arrive at work eager to start the day. You know you have a to do list the length of your arm and if you don’t stay focused today you’re likely to suffer tomorrow.
But at 9.30am you are still sifting through an inbox full of never ending workload requests. The phone then rings and distracts you from the job you finally started, office conversations grab your attention, you suddenly have a desperate need to quench your thirst with a cup of tea and to top it off the stationary order finally arrives resulting in another 20 minutes of time wasting finding somewhere to put the lot.
Let’s face it, concentrating at the office, or indeed at home, is difficult. It could benefit you to be truthful and pinpoint the often avoidable problem. Figuring out what makes your eyes wander to the window, whether fatigue, hunger or an Instagram addition is the first step towards trying to fix it. Once you’ve had a think about it, why not try our distraction busting tips.
1. Work Offline
The world can be a distracting place, so avoid the temptation of everything around you and sever all ties by creating a supportive environment to work in. Did you know that around 60% of distractions at the office come from the internet, emails, and mobile phones? Constant emails or phone calls can cause you to leave mid-way through work and completely removed from the task when you eventually go back to it.
So why not beat the distraction and give up your phone, emails, social media and even colleagues for a couple of hours throughout the day and knuckle down the old fashioned way; with pen and paper? Let your colleagues know that they should leave you to work silently for a set time and you will soon see that no distractions mean increased focus.
However we understand that giving up the internet for an entire afternoon may not be viable, so why not limit yourself to how many times you check your emails; it can work just as well.
2. Are You Sitting Comfortably?
You may be surprised to hear that sitting at your desk for the majority of the day can in fact be a strenuous task and take its toll on your body. We’re sure you’ve complained about afternoon back niggles, strained eyes and sore necks at some point during your working week?
Well, this somewhat painful distraction is just as off-putting as the colleague chatting to you about last night’s soap cliff hanger. After all how can you possible concentrate on writing that report whilst you try to secretly stretch out your screaming muscles?
Keeping the right posture which supports both your neck and back at the desk will rid you of aches and pains and allow you to focus on your days’ work. By purchasing an ergonomic chair which is designed specifically to improve your posture you can easily avoid said daily twinges. Take a look at this posture guide; are you sitting right?
3. Write A To-Do List
Rather than worrying about getting everything done, or forgetting an important task before the week ends; write a to-do list. Not only will you be able to clearly visualise what you have to do, which is often not as bad as you think, but you can also prioritise your workload.
The Todoist App can help you keep track of everything and add tasks on the go as and when they pop up. Not only that but you’ll also be able to share projects, assign tasks and collaborate with colleagues. And, for those hours when you are working offline (see above) the app allows continued full access.
4. Work To A Deadline
There is something about deadlines that make us thrive whether at work or otherwise. So rather than telling yourself that you’ll go home when you are finished, because you could still be there at 10pm, set daily deadlines. So whether you decide you are leaving a 5pm sharp or you have until 2pm to finish that proposal you are more likely to power through knowing that a deadline is looming.
5. Drink Plenty Of Water
Not only is it healthy, but water is refreshing too and can push back the first signs of fatigue and hunger. It is pretty straightforward really; when our bodies are dehydrated we struggle to concentrate due to a lack of energy. So drink more.
That being said, we’d also suggest you bring in healthy snacks such as bananas, which are slow releasing energy foods. Just make sure both are in arms reach, so that you won’t be subjected to distractions when walking to the water cooler or staff kitchen.
6. Work In Chunks
Don’t take on too much at any one time, you’ll inevitably drive to self to destruction. You may think that you excel at multi-tasking but in reality you are juggling one too many jobs and as a consequence failing to complete them to the best of your ability.
So, take a step back and, once you have prioritised your work load on your Todoist App, break all the large task looming over you into small manageable chunks. By setting realistic goals for each day (or even by the hour) you’ll relish in the sense of accomplishment every time you tick another bit of your list
7. Make Lifestyle Changes
There are a number of changes we can make in our everyday life that can improve both your brain power and your mood.
Science says that exercise is a huge factor in productivity in the workplace. Not only that but being active on a day to day basis will result in benefits far outstretching the confines of your office. Ultimately a healthier, active lifestyle leads to increased productivity, smarter work management and higher quality products. You will even notice that you’ll gain more energy just as your awareness sharpens; so why not walk to work tomorrow, or take a wonder in your lunch hour?
Fatigue is another genuine distraction in the office where tiredness slows your output, reduces your performance and generally worsens your day. Therefore both sleep and routine will without a doubt improve your focus and ability to concentrate at the office. You can even train your brain into a better sleep pattern.
8. Invest In Some Headphones
It has been proven many times that music can help with your productivity. Think about it, how often do you turn up the tunes to power through the housework or find the perfect playlist to get ready for a Friday night? Music at work can have similar effects; just make sure that it’s the right type. It’s probably best not to listen to club remixes whilst writing an important report for your boss. You may want to consider listening to music without lyrics, as the opposite can often can cause distractions when your trying to read or write.
However, be warned that having it too loud and you become everyone else’s irritating distraction. Make sure you keep your headphones on and the sound low.
9. Curb Your Browsing
How many times a day are you distracted or tempted by social media or news articles for example? You may think, “I’ll just read this one” and before your know it you’ve wasted another 10 minutes.
It is easy to get sucked into the a social media black hole when you work on line which is firewalling is an excellent choice. You could choose to block social media websites and other distractions for a set period of time like Concentrate (Macs only). Or you may prefer to use Stay Focused an app which assists you in curbing your time spent on ‘time-wasting’ sites by establishing a set period in which you can indulge.
Such apps help you learn to build focus by limiting the number of distracting choices you are faced with each day allowing you to buckle down and work.
Make The Most Of Your Working Day
Make sure you are making the most of your day and avoid losing any momentum when you finally knuckle down. With these top 7 tips, which are all simple changes you can make but which maximum impact on your focus, you’ll be able to clock off at 5pm without worrying about the day to come.
About the author: Daniel Wilson is a freelance copywriter passionate about productivity, leadership and management trends. Catch him on his twitter @danwilson_1986 or email him if you’re interested in working together.