Do you find it difficult to stay focused at work?
Are you looking to remove distractions, motivate yourself, and get things done?
Keeping one’s focus at the office can be especially difficult in today’s age of digital devices, hyper-connectivity, and instant responses.
Fortunately, you can keep your mind on what matters by taking positive, forward-moving action.
In this post, I offer a collection of quick tips to help you stay focused at work, so you can get things done.
The next time you find your attention wandering or going astray while at work, try any one of these tips.
You may be surprised at what you can accomplish when you apply your focus to the right place!
Temporarily silence electronic devices.
Is your day constantly filled with a cacophony of beeps, pings, buzzing, and chirps? All those sounds can really disrupt your ability to focus to work.
If this is the case for you, you may want to temporarily silence electronic devices, including cell phones, smart phones, telephones, tablets, laptops, and desktops, as you sit down to complete a task.
And what if you must use an electronic device for your work? Be sure to completely log out of any unnecessary apps so you can focus on your work.
Review your goals daily.
Make sure you stay on track with your work by reviewing your goals at the start of each day. It’s an easy way to keep all of your plans at the front of your mind.
Based on your goals, which tasks need to be completed today? That is, which items are truly urgent and important? Which tasks can wait until tomorrow? Which tasks can wait until next week…or beyond?
Schedule tasks directly into your calendar.
Have trouble finding time to work during the day between meetings and appointments? If so, you may want to schedule specific tasks directly into your calendar.
This scheduling method is practical because you don’t have to “find time” in which to work on a task; it’s already built into your calendar. You can settle in, and get down to your work that much faster.
Block out audible distractions.
What’s that you say? If your office or work area is unusually or even occasionally noisy, you can try drowning out ambient sound with any number of sound-reducing items such as earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, or a white-noise generator. If you work in an office or a room with a door in it, shut the door to temporarily block out sound.
And what if things become too unbearable? Find a quiet conference room or area in which to work, or ask your supervisor for a temporary desk or workspace reassignment.
Work on a single task.
Quick question: which task on your to-do list needs to be completed *right now*? Not tomorrow, not later today, but right at this very minute?
Once you’ve selected the task, sit down and work on it until it is completed. Repeat for the remaining items on your to-do list.
Take a little break.
Have you been sitting at your desk or workstation for two hours straight without a break? You definitely need to take some time away from your work!
Take five minutes to do any one of the following: gaze out the window, sit quietly for a few minutes, grab a glass of water, go for a short walk outside, or stretch your arms and legs.
Spend less time in your email inbox.
Do you spend an inordinate amount of time in your email inbox at the expense of other work roles and responsibilities?
If so, you may want to try checking your messages at regular intervals throughout the day. When you’re finished, be sure to completely log out of your email inbox so you can focus on your other work.
Create a visual reminder.
Are you a visual person? You may find it helpful to use a visual prompt to help you keep your focus. All you have to do is grab a sticky note, jot down the task or assignment you need to complete, and place the sticky note directly at eye level on your computer or above your desk. And there you have it: an instant visual reminder!
Set a small reward for yourself.
You can motivate yourself to get things done by creating a mini-reward for yourself. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, even the smallest of rewards can be refreshing! Make a coffee break date with a coworker or friend, listen to your favorite song, take a brisk walk around your office floor, or watch a funny video…but only after you’ve finished your work.
How about you? Which of these tips are you going to try out? Do you have any tips or tricks that you use to help you stay focused during the day? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!
A version of this post appeared on the blog in 2015.