Being focused at work is something we all aim to be. It seems simple in concept, to just do a task until it gets done, so why is it so hard for us to focus sometimes? I’ve been putting into practice a few tips that I wanted to share.
Work on One Thing at a Time
Being able to focus at work is much easier when you’re only working on one thing at a time. Sure, this is easier to say than it is to actually do, because many of us have a lot of things that need to get done, but for us to really focus we need to do one thing at a time.
We shouldn’t try to multitask to try and get more done. Computers are great at multitasking; people are not. We should be working on a single thing at a time, and when it’s complete, move onto the next task. Work out what you should be working on right now, and work on that. Perhaps it’s the quickest task to do, or maybe it’s the most urgent or the highest profile task. Either way, pick a task and work on just that task. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to remain focused when you’re only thinking about that one task.
Our lives are filled with distractions. There are distractions at work, such as people around you, conversations, and all kinds of noises. There are also distractions on your computer, including email, Internet, and other applications. To be able to be totally focused, we need to be able to eliminate these distractions. If we’re drawn away from our work by other things, then we’re not really focused on what we’re doing.
A lot of the distractions can’t really be helped. You can’t really get up and ask everyone to be quiet because you need to work—that would seem to be selfish. Working with the background noise may just be something you need to do.
There are, however, some distractions that you can get rid of. Almost all of the distractions that are present on your computer can be eliminated. We don’t realise how they can affect us, but once they are off, they make a big difference. Some of the changes you could make are:
- Email notifications. Many email clients often have a popup or notification of incoming email. This option can be turned off. Try turning it off if you need to focus, or even closing down your email program altogether.
- Silent phone. Your phone may be constantly making noises for incoming email, messages, and other notifications. If you have it set on silent mode, this noise is eliminated. Sure, you might still need to use it to take calls, but these should still display on the screen for you to see.
- Internet browsing. The temptation to browse the Internet at work is high for many of us. It can be easy to “just check that one website again” or “quickly check Facebook”. The ability to not get distracted by Internet browsing is hard and is more of a mental restraint than actually closing an application, but I suggest that you give it a try. You could even remove shortcuts to application to make it harder than just a single click.
Get Plenty of Rest
I’ve written on my site about the importance of getting enough rest, and the relationship it has to being effective at work. You should be aware of how much sleep your body needs to function at its peak, but most experts recommend around 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night. I’m sitting here, writing this article, feeling like a million dollars because I had a great 8-hour sleep last night.
It really helps your ability to focus when you get a good sleep. You feel refreshed and energised, and you don’t have the desire to fall asleep at your desk. Getting into a regular sleeping pattern is important, and keeping up with the right amount of sleep will do wonders for your ability to focus at work.