It’s in our nature to get distracted from work. Some manage to concentrate on the process fully, while for others doing so is always a struggle. Today we’ll talk about helping yourself focus on work.
Let’s begin by acknowledging that we all have different abilities in terms of focusing attention. Someone is able to focus in mere minutes, while others have to work up to it for half an hour. It depends now only on our willpower but also on factors like how tired we are, whether we had enough sleep and if we are in full health at this time. We won’t be discussing everyone’s individual peculiarities here, as our recommendations have generic nature. You will be able to adapt them to your needs with your individual peculiarities taken into consideration.
Before recommending tools and ways to focus, we will stop at what can potentially distract and deviate us from work. At times just dealing with those factors can completely solve the problem. So, what are the distractions?
Here are the most common distractions
Noise is a major irritant that can nullify all your attempts to focus. If closed windows and doors, turned off TV and computer are not working for you, try making use of earphones or earplugs. Another way is learning to focus in noisy surroundings. Once you succeed, you will gain a priceless advantage over a vast majority of people.
Even a psychologically balanced individual is likely to talk to themselves. If you can’t work because of anxious thoughts or problems hanging over you, just let them play out in your head to a logical ending and then get back to work with peace of mind.
Now here’s a bottomless black hole for your time! It only takes a tiny peek in your e-mail or social network for time to start flying by at ultra speed. Make it a rule to check your e-mail and messages in social networks during strictly set time – possibly during your break. Preferably, only after you are completely done with your work.
Even if you firmly believe you are not getting distracted by the little “perpetuum mobile” on your desk, your brain is still unable to fully focus on work. Get rid of any moving objects around and if it’s not possible (if your desk happens to be in the middle of foot traffic), then orient the table in a way that would have you focus on a still object.
Bad mood can attract all sorts of negativity – from headache to depression. Drive that wave of negativity away from yourself! Think positively, enjoy life and work at your fullest capacity.
This is a foundation for premature tiredness and slow work. Good lighting will guarantee durable and efficient work. Keep in mind there should be plenty of light but it should never be too bright or irritating.
Uncomfortable or unsuitable workstation
It’s important not to go to extremes here. A chair too comfy will set a relaxing tone stripping you of any possibility to focus on the work. A chair that’s too hard and uncomfortable can exacerbate osteochondrosis, which will again negatively affect your work. It’s important to find middle ground: a comfortable office chair and desk. And nothing that does not belong around! We are sure that you can now account for at least two factors likely to distract you from work.
And now let’s talk about useful tools that help you achieve better focus.
How to make yourself focus?
1. Make a work plan in advance. Big boulders may be getting flung in our direction right about now – there is hardly any time for work, let alone planning for it! The truth is, making a plan does not take that much time, but it always ends up saving you heaps of time as a result. So, try making a plan for tomorrow on the evening before. Firstly, at that time you are most likely not busy with anything important anyway. Secondly, it’s in the evening when your brain is able to make the best estimate of the chores to do on the next day. Thirdly, planning in advance helps you focus on the important points and get up for the work to be done.
2. Rise early. It’s the way our body is designed – in the morning our level of hormones helps to achieve maximum productivity. This factor should not be ignored. Learn to rise early and you will soon notice how much easier it is to focus on work and how much faster you can accomplish tasks. Just remember that rising early also calls for going to bed early.
3. Defining the work front. Just before you get down working, it’s important to put yourself in a working mood. Visualization and detailed description of the goal to be achieved really help. If you bothered to make a plan in the evening, now you can effortlessly evaluate how realistic it is to make it happen in allotted time.
4. Warm-up the brain. You probably know that sportspeople warm up before doing a certain exercise. Otherwise muscles and ligaments can be sprained. The brain needs the same kind of warming up. If your work requires creative approach, you need to activate the right hemisphere responsible for creativeness. Do something with your left hand and foot, put your thoughts in the right direction, get some visual information on the topic. If you have a long period of work requiring focus ahead, warm up your left hemisphere by doing something with your right hand or foot, solving a few brainteasers or logical puzzles.
5. Start with the most difficult. Remember that a maximum concentration is achieved in 10-15 minutes from the moment you begin the work. It stays high for some time and then declines. Therefore, begin your work with the most difficult part that will require your best performance. And only as weariness builds up you can move on to easier and more automatic tasks.
6. Get rid of the distractions. This recommendation may be redundant, but still. Leave all personal calls, phone calls, SMS messages e-mails etc for later.
7. Define an optimal time interval for most efficient work. It’s difficult to give a specific recommendation as some may be able to work for 3 hours non stop, while others will need to take a break after an hour. Decide for yourself when you absolutely need to take that break but make sure you work during the entire time between such breaks. A timer would be of great help in this matter.
8. Always allow for breaks. We all have a fatigue threshold. As soon as you feel the work is not getting done, consider if you may be tired. A tired organism is unable to work efficiently. It needs to rest. Just make sure you don’t make a beeline for the e-mail of phone. Try making your break as efficient as possible: stretch your muscles, get away from the computer, let your eyes relax and rest, have a healthy snack.
9. Automatize your work as much as possible. Any actions no matter how simple take up time. By automatizing such actions you can optimize the way your time is spent not to mention your actual work. If you work with the same sites, create bookmarks for them. If you are working on several documents simultaneously, keep them all open.
10. Get rid of the unnecessary. Order on your desk promotes productivity. This applies to both physical and virtual surroundings. Your office desk must contain nothing you don’t absolutely need, your browsers must not have bookmarks and pages that you are not using regularly or at the moment, while all your documents must be in folders – on the computer and on the desk.
11. Do not abuse coffee and sweets. This recommendation may come across as strange but still. Coffee and sweets decrease your productivity. Most sweet things are simple carbs that give us a false sense of fullness and energy inflow. By burning through them too quickly we only encourage quick fat deposit and energy deficit. Coffee is a topic that needs to be discussed separately. We might touch upon this one in one of the next posts.
12. Get rid of chronophages. A modern day person is surrounded by a huge number of chronophages. It’s bad enough that the rhythm of life itself makes us live and act quicker – our priceless time gets chipped away by chronophages. But not all succumb to their overwhelming influence. Many manage to minimize the presence of chronophages in their life. We will be sure to talk in detail about what those are next time.
13. Change your attitude to work. Almost any work can be turned into an interesting game, if desired. You should try changing your attitude to the work you do. This will help you work with a spark and real pleasure.
14. Reward yourself for proper and efficient work. Rewarding yourself is a must. But keep in mind the reward must be first deserved: no advances, no putting stuff away for later.
As you can see, it’s quite difficult to make yourself focus on work, but it’s not unrealistic. You are unlikely to be able to follow all of the recommendations above right away. But maybe you don’t really need to follow them all anyway. Just try following a few and you will notice how much easier it has become to do your work.