Your phone buzzes in your pocket. Your co-worker asks if you want a cup of tea. Your boss is sharing a laugh with his superior in a corner office. Five new emails spring up from clients. Oh, and social media exists. Let’s face it, staying focused at work can be pretty difficult these days.
That’s true whether we’re working from the office, working from home or out in the field, but what can we do to make sure we are staying productive at work?
The answer is a two-pronged one that involves both strengthening your concentration muscles and making use of some of our terrific tips for staying focused at work.
So, let’s explore 15 ways on how to focus on work!
Make use of browser plugins – Modern browsers like Chrome, Edge and Firefox all support browser plugins (or extensions) which enable new types of functionality in your browser. You can download a range of plugins that have been designed to help you focus, for example Stay Focused, Strict Pomodoro and much more. They block distracting websites and some even include a timer, so you can keep on top of how long you’ve been at any particular task.
Plan ahead – Make a list of important things that you absolutely have to do today and ensure that each one is ticked off the list at the end of the day. If you’re feeling adventurous, add a secondary list of other high-priority tasks that you can start after.
Set deadlines and keep them – We’re all in the habit of putting things off, but if you want to be productive you should see your tasks through to their end as quickly as possible. Keeping to deadlines is essential in the workplace.
Take regular breaks – It might sound counterintuitive, but taking breaks can really help you stay focused. After a three-hour working block your mind is going to start getting distracted, so take a 15-minute break to breathe, have a cup of tea and do something which doesn’t involve computers or rushing around.
Turn off your notifications – Notification overload is a real problem for the modern worker and, quite frankly, we get enough of it at home. Turn your phone to priority calls only and leave the thing alone, and you’ll find you’re able to focus with much-improved clarity.
Tidy your workspace – Messy, unorganised desks have been proven to raise levels of stress in staff and that’s far from ideal when you’re trying to focus. So, declutter and clean – you’ll be delighted by your more manageable workspace.
Reduce distracting noise – If you find yourself inadvertently eavesdropping on your work colleagues and paying more attention to what’s happening in the office than on your screen, cut out the noise with a pair of earplugs, noise cancelling headphones or listening to your favourite music.
Check your email less – A study from the New York Times found that people worked better when they checked their email less. Making an effort to close the gap between necessity and compulsion is worth it, they suggest, so check your email once every 3 hours, rather than every 5 minutes.
Keep fit – Staying healthy is the best way to increase your overall energy levels and your focus. Take a 30-minute jog three times a week or go to the gym every other day and you’ll find that your ability to work reliably improves dramatically. Oh, and you’ll look and feel great too. Bonus!
Avoid social media – An obvious, but an essential one. You might feel as though using social media is helping your brain to rest after a difficult task, but the reality of it is that your brain is working just as hard to process those tweets and status updates, so put that energy to good use instead.
Keep a notebook handy – When you’re working, you generate dozens of ideas that can throw you off course. Instead of chasing them then and there, write them down in a notepad you keep on your keyboard. Pursuing these ideas later can save significant time and mental energy.
Drink more water and less coffee – Coffee! It’s the drink that powers our day, offering an abundance of energy when you are starting to feel tired … Right? Actually, wrong! Too much coffee at work can make your dizzy, irritable and more prone to drift off course. Replacing your coffee intake with fresh water, however, is a sure-fire way to keep your day on track. Water is superb for both the mind and body and is a great way to stay focused.
Motivate yourself – The more you focus on something, the faster you get tired. That’s why it’s important that you get yourself suitably motivated before setting out on a task. Listen to a song that makes you want to dance, read a poem which motivates you or simply give yourself a little internal speech to get yourself excited before you go tackle your task.
Use productivity tools – Whilst we’re against filling your day with random website usage, there are some excellent productivity tools out there. Favourites like BookingLive, Pocket, RescueTime and IFTTT can all help improve your productivity and that of your co-workers.
Get comfortable – It might sound simplistic, but how comfortable we heavily dictate how effective we can be at work. Cramped, uncomfortable office furniture leads to us thinking more about where we’re sat than the task in front of us. Ask your boss for a new chair or go out and invest in one yourself, you won’t regret it.
These are just a handful of the ways in which you can improve your focus at work and ramp up your productivity. Give them a try, why don’t you? You might just find you can get through many more tasks than you predicted.
If your business takes bookings you can really let them keep focused by using an Online Booking System by reducing the number of calls, taking payments online and have a history of all bookings in one place. To watch a demo of our system sign up to our online demo!