Tips for Focusing on Your Work Based on Your Office Environment
Most workers are easily distracted, whether working from traditional or home offices. Finding focus and remaining concentrated equates to greater productivity but figuring out how to maintain this focus is tough for workers. Approximately 50 percent of American workers state that they are only able to concentrate fully for 15 minutes at a time and more than 50 percent confess to losing at least an hour or more throughout the day due to disruptions. Experts state attention spans have been reducing, with workers who are aged 20 to 30 years suffering from the most lack of focus. Researchers believe this may have to do with the recent technological boom, including text messaging and Internet. However, it is possible to retrain yourself to focus for longer periods of time using a few simple techniques.
Technique One: Find Something You Like
When your mind is bored, it goes looking for more meaningful input. This means that if the work you are currently concentrating on is not stimulating, your mind is going to wander and suddenly the unanswered emails in your inbox may seem more important. The key to staying focused is to find something you like about the task, even if it is simply the fact that the task is not that difficult. Create milestones for yourself and make a game out of it. When the mind is engaged in a different way, even if it is the same mindless task, your ability to stay focused increases.
Technique Two: Eat
The mind cannot focus if the body is hungry for food, specifically for breakfast. While it may be difficult to have a big and hearty breakfast every day, make sure you at least eat something. Take healthy snacks with you to nibble on in between meals at work. Certain foods have actually been found to help boost concentration, such as nuts and fruits. Avoid sugary things, as the carb crash that comes as a result is counterproductive and can actually make you tired.
Technique Three: Make a List
Creating a list of daily goals and marking them off as you go is a great motivator. You can visually see your progress throughout the day. Think about how you want your day to unfold, what tasks need to be a priority and what tasks you are actually looking forward to completing. This not only helps you stay on track, but it gives your mind its marching orders.
Technique Four: Turn off the Internet
Nearly 60 percent of the disruptions that happen during workdays are due to internet-related interruptions, such as emails, time spent on social networks and texting. If you have tasks that can be accomplished without having to be on the internet, put your phone on silent mode and select the option to work offline, if your company policy allows it. You can also limit yourself to only accessing the internet every other hour or every two to three hours, which also keeps the distraction at bay. There are downloadable apps you can get that will temporarily block websites you specify, if you do not trust your own resolve.
Technique Five: Think Small
The human mind usually breaks larger tasks down into smaller tasks to make it easier to process and accomplish goals. A good way to assist your mind in doing this is to take the projects or tasks that you have to accomplish for the day and assign them time limits. For example, you will answer and return emails from 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. and then move on to the next listed item. The tendency is to take on a task, and then stick with it without a break until it is completed. However, you will find your focus wandering greatly if you try this.
Technique Six: The Cone of Silence
Noise canceling headphones are great for blocking out distracting environmental noise. However, it is also possible to suggest a “not available” signal to those you work with. For example, everyone can agree that if someone is wearing headgear (headphones or ear buds), they are not available for idle conversation. It signals that you, or your coworkers, are working on something important and that you should not be disturbed.
Technique Seven: Take Planned Breaks
Working productively for short periods of time, then taking brief breaks gives your brain a breather. If you never take a break, the brain tends to become more fatigued and less focused. Short bursts of concentration followed by short breaks often cause you to be more productive, rather than less productive, as you are, in essence, hitting the reset button for your mind.
Technique Eight: Work with Your Body’s Rhythms
Studies show that most of the workforce has a natural biological rhythm, called the Circadian Rhythm. This controls the highs and lows for energy consumption and output throughout the day. With this in mind, the average worker seems to be able to concentrate better about an hour after arriving at work and shortly after lunch. Unfortunately, the other large energy surge occurs when most workers are already at home. Keeping these rhythms in mind, it makes sense to schedule the work that will take the most concentration earlier in the day and right after lunch to maximize productiveness and allow yourself to take advantage of your office environment.
Technique Nine: Close Your Door
If your working space has a door, consider closing it when you need some space to complete tasks. This is especially helpful if you have coworkers who like to drop by to chat frequently throughout the day. However, you should make sure that the door is open at some point throughout the day so you can interact with others to allow your supervisor to communicate with you when needed.