Let’s admit it. We’ve often taken a “10 minutes” break and then, BOOM, we realize that those 10 minutes have turned into 3 hours.
Even the best of us find it difficult to focus at work. There are like a hundred things happening around to distract us, and even without them we still find ways to get distracted somehow.
According to a study from Microsoft, the average human has an eight-second attention span – less than that of a goldfish! Who knew, right?!
But on a more serious note, here are some alarming statistics about workplace productivity:
- Trying to focus on more than one thing at a time reduces your productivity by as much as 40%.
- The average desk job employee loses 2.1 hours a day to distractions and interruptions.
- On average, employees who do the majority of their work on computers are distracted every 10.5 minutes.
But, there’s some good news too. Around 44% of your work distractions are self-inflicted and another 23% come from emails!
How is this good news, you ask? This means that you have complete control over 67% of the distractions at work. It’s time you took matters into your own hands and learn how to focus better at work.
That’s why, in this blog, we will look at 11 effective ways that will help you focus at work and boost your productivity. What are you waiting for? Dive right in!
1. Organize Your Desk
First things first, it is important that you keep your desk neat and clean before you start your work. You may not like to admit it, but too many things lying around on your desk can prove to be really distracting.
In fact, an infographic by Cleaning Services Group shows that there is a direct correlation between a clean and tidy office space and a productive day at work.
Don’t believe us? Take a look at this recent study which showed that 41% of employees felt that a tidy workspace made them more productive, while 21% admitted that they feel that they’ve too much work on their hands when their desk was cluttered.
So, if your desk looks like it has been struck by a hurricane, then mind you, you are not going to do much progress with your work. It’s time to de-clutter!
Toss those unwanted papers in the trash. Arrange your documents. Label your files. Organize your drawers. Just keep your desk clean and see the difference for yourself!
2. Notifications Off!
Do this one right now! Notifications are the number one reason we keep looking over to our phones every few minutes (dare we say seconds?)
A study conducted at Trent University showed that people check their smartphones around 85 times a day in a total of five hours! And that just an average!
No wonder why we can’t get our work done! It’s just not possible to focus on your work properly if your phone keeps pinging with notifications all the time.
So, take a moment to go to your phone settings, disable all your app notifications, and then set your phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’.
Read more: Best Focus Apps to Eliminate Distractions!
3. Plan Your Day
After you have cleared your desk and disabled your notifications, sit down and plan what you are actually going to do for the rest of the day.
You could make a checklist or a to-do list that includes all your daily tasks and prioritize them according to their difficulty level and workload.
Since the first hour at work is the most productive, you can do all the challenging projects and tasks in the first hour, followed by less demanding tasks, and then end your day with the easiest one.
You can even use software that helps you create and organize your daily tasks. It’s also important that you include breaks in your daily task list. Planning your day in advance will not only help you stay focused, but will also help you in getting more work done!
4. Do One Task at a Time
We are looking at you multi-taskers! If you are convinced that multi-tasking makes you a productive person, then you are wrong!
According to American Psychological Association, constantly switching between numerous tasks reduces your chances to complete any one of them in due time. In fact, studies have found that multitasking reduces your productivity by 40%.
So, instead of trying to juggle multiple tasks, we suggest that you do one thing at a time. Take your daily checklist or to-do list and follow it one by one. This means that you will only be focusing on the one task that you have to do rather than being distracted by many.
This will not only help you become more efficient and productive but will also lower your feelings of stress and frustration. Single-tasking is the new way to go!
5. Schedule an Email Time
We already talked about how 23% of work distractions come from our emails. And to add to that, a study by McKinsey Global Institute found that an average employee spends 13 hours a week reading and responding to emails.
But, we know how important emails are. That why we suggest that you always schedule a specific time for checking your emails. This means that you can designate a fixed time in the morning and evening just for your emails, say for example 11 am and 4 pm.
While checking your emails, you can try following David Allen’s 2-minute rule, which asks you to handle emails that will take only 2-minutes or less. Anything else, you just add to your to-do list to check at a later time.
Scheduling a time for your email is a great way to ensure that you get to focus on your work and also not miss any important emails.
6. Create Deadlines for Yourself
They say all you need is motivation if you have to finish your work. But, nothing compares to the feeling of an approaching deadline.
We are not joking. Sometimes you need some pressure to complete your tasks, or else you just end up procrastinating. That’s why you should always set a deadline for each task.
Remember how we asked you to plan your day by creating to-do lists? Set a deadline for each of those tasks. When you do this, you are creating a sense of urgency.
With a deadline approaching you, you push yourself to work. At that moment of time, you will be able to focus on your work and complete your work on time.
Your focus kicks in when the clock is ticking!
7. Take Breaks
Just take a break! It’s the most simple and effective way to bring your focus back.
We are not robots who can work mechanically for 8 hours straight. Our brains are not designed to focus on work for so long. That’s why taking breaks are extremely important to rejuvenate your mind.
There are three ways you can go about this: you can fix a number of mini breaks in your planning list between all your tasks OR you can reward yourself a break after you complete your self-made deadline OR you can simply just take a break when you can’t seem to focus at all.
Make sure your break does not mean checking your phone or social media. Go for a brisk walk. Chat up with a colleague. Read a book. Take a power nap. Anything that takes your mind away from work should do the trick.
8. Stay Away from Social Media
Social media is the root of all distractions! It’s the reason why our attention span has dropped lower than a goldfish. Yet, we are unable to stay away from it.
Take a look at these statistics:
- One study found that 66.7% of office workers visited social networking sites from the office.
- Another study found that workers were spending, on average, 32% of their time on social media at work every day and losing 13% of productivity.
The temptation is real to check your phone and scroll through social media, but resist the urge! That’s why we suggest you fight apps with apps. Use apps like Stayfocusd, Freedom, Anti-social, etc. to block social media sites and apps while you are at work and avoid getting distracted.
If you want to focus at work, then keep social media at bay!
9. Grab a Coffee
Coffee-lovers out there, this one is for you!
There’s nothing that a good cup of coffee can’t solve. So, while you take your mini-breaks, go grab a cup of coffee to freshen up. Coffee is known to up your focus, keep you alert, improve your mood, and raise your energy levels.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease identifies a connection between caffeine and cognition. It may not improve learning or memory, but it is found to increase physiological arousal, which helps you focus better at work. Awesome, right?
But the downside is that too much caffeine may make you anxious, dizzy, and harder to focus. So, the key is to consume coffee in moderation to make use of all the benefits it provides.
10. Stay Hydrated
The solution (literally) is very simple – drink water!
We cannot stress the importance of staying hydrated, irrespective of where you are. Drinking water is not only healthy, it refreshes your mind and body as well.
Did you know that in order to maintain peak levels of productivity, the body needs to be fully hydrated? Studies show that just a 1% drop in hydration could lead to a 12% drop in productivity.
This is because a dehydrated body lowers your mood and energy levels and increases your chance of developing a headache. Can you imagine focusing at work with a terrible headache?
11. Put on Headphones and Some Music
Offices can be very noisy. And a noisy environment is extremely distracting and prevents you from focusing on your work. In fact, studies even show that 53% of employees say workplace noise harms their productivity.
So, if noise is the problem, then use headphones or earplugs to cancel it out. A bonus advantage of having a headphone on is that it sends out the message that you do not wish to be disturbed.
While you are at it, why not add some music to your ears to make things a bit more pleasant? In a recent survey, 71% of people said listening to music at work makes them more productive. Cool, right?
Organize your playlist with music that lifts your mood and keeps you in high spirits. Enjoy your work while you listen to your favorite beats!
It’s true that you could stare at your computer for hours without getting any actual work done. That’s because focusing at work is probably the hardest task, harder than your actual work-related task.
With so many distractions around us and with our attention spans at their lowest, focusing at work has never been more difficult.
Use the tips we’ve given you and watch yourself focusing better at work and becoming more productive than before. Remember, at the end of the day, you need to put in the effort to make it work.
It’s not going to be easy all through, but you will definitely see change over time.
All we have to say to you is just focus!
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