It’s an understatement to say that focusing on one thing at a time in the office can be difficult. But if you want to succeed at work – or in life – learning how to focus is essential! It’s hard to do anything, let alone do anything well, if you can’t concentrate on it.
According to one Time Magazine article, nearly 50% of American employees say they work for only 15 minutes in the office before becoming distracted and 53% report wasting an hour or more a day because of disruptions. From constant noise to overflowing inboxes to feeling stressed or fatigued, almost anything can cause people to lose focus.
The good thing about focus is that it’s a skill you can learn and improve. It takes practice and experimenting with different methods, but you can improve your ability to focus! Check out these 6 tips for keeping yourself on focus.
- Start Off the Day Right! – Your Mom was right! You should start off each day with a good breakfast. That bowl of cereal or oatmeal may do more than jump start metabolism – studies have found that eating breakfast can actually improve attention and concentration. Eating protein-rich food at breakfast can often reduce the distracting need for snacking later in the day.
- One Thing At a Time – Technology can be a blessing or a curse. Every time something dings, beeps, or flashes, you’re no longer 100% focused on what you were doing. The next time you sit down to focus, turn off your notifications for Facebook, Twitter, email, Instagram, Dropbox, etc. —that’s right, turn off every last one. Keep in mind that your likes, comments, and email messages will all still be there when you’re ready to look.
- Clean Up Your Workspace – Post-Its notes, snacks, and even family photos can become a distraction. Clear off the workspace and only have what’s really needed (computer, notebook, water-bottle, etc.). Reducing unnecessary clutter can help you to stay focused and in “in the zone!”
- Group Your Tasks Together – It has become the norm to have to wear multiple hats at the workplace. Unfortunately it can take your brain 15 minutes or more to regain the same intense focus or flow as before the interruption. Every time you switch tasks, your brain needs at least that amount of time to get back into the work. If you switch tasks just four times in a morning, that’s an hour of total focus you’ve lost! Stay focused by “batching” your tasks. Batching builds off the idea of only working on one type of task at a given time. Instead of jumping from one project to another, do all your related tasks in one block of time. By “batching” the work you have to accomplish, you reduce the need to constantly shift gears.
- Take a Break – This may seem counterproductive at first, but taking a break can help to increase focus. As humans, our attention spans need variety, and we can’t always control our thoughts or motivations. No matter how motivated or focused you are, you can’t stay that way forever. Studies have shown that you’re much more likely to get work done quickly and efficiently if you take some breaks away from your desk. Do some stretches, daydream, or go for a walk. Remember that some of our Barrister Executive Suite locations are close to the beach. Take off your shoes, breath in the ocean air, and enjoy a break on the beach.
- Create Your Own Space – Some people can maintain focus around many people and considerable noises. Other people – and certain types of tasks – require a space that is all your own. Take advantage of the individual private offices offered by Barrister Suites and keep your focus on your work.
- Reward Yourself! – Motivation is essential when attempting to maintain focus, and rewarding yourself for maintaining focus helps to build positive patterns. Promise yourself a break if you spend 1 hour doing a task you find especially difficult. Reward yourself for finishing your PowerPoint presentation by visiting the employee lounge or break room for your favorite snack. Be creative with your rewards and watch your ability to focus grow!