- Shiv Pathak
Boosting Your Focus at Work
Whether you’re in the office or working from home, staying focused can be a huge challenge. Be it a colleague stopping by and chatting about their weekend, or “just” quickly popping on a load of laundry between Zoom meetings when working from home, there are distractions that pull our attention away from our work everywhere we turn.
So, to try to combat these distractions, here are some top tips for trying to boost your focus at work:-
1. Be Smart with your Smartphone
We are all guilty of becoming distracted by our digital devices. In fact, tech care company Asurion conducted a study which showed that on average people check their phones 352 times per day – that’s more than once every 3 minutes if you account for 8 hours sleep! One of the easiest ways to avoid becoming distracted is turning off notifications, putting your phone on Do Not Disturb, or even better, keep your phone away from your desk altogether. Without the constant pinging of notifications you are far more likely to stay focused and get more work done.
2. Clear the Clutter
A cluttered workspace can lead to a cluttered mind. Not only is it incredibly satisfying when you organise your workspace, it has been proven that this can help you to focus! A 2011 study from researchers at Princeton University Neuroscience Institute evidenced that the chaos of clutter impairs the brain’s ability to process information and to focus. It showed that a tidy work environment led to increased productivity, less distraction and less irritability. So clear out those drawers and get yourself a tidy workplace for a tidy mind.
3. Schedule time for emails
A study by The McKinsey Global Institute found that the average employee spends 13 hours a week dealing with emails – that’s 650 hours a year! This is a huge proportion of time, but obviously can’t be avoided. Scheduling a specific time each day in which to read and respond to emails can prevent you from becoming repeatedly distracted throughout the day and improve your focus on your work.
Our brains struggle to handle multiple tasks at the same time. Whilst you might feel like multitasking helps you to get on with your work, the constant diversion of attention from one task to another actually significantly reduces productivity. By breaking tasks into smaller steps and focusing on each one at a time makes it much more manageable, and helps us feel motivated when we complete each step.
It’s sometimes easier said than done to focus on one task at a time – when there’s lots to be done, where do you start?! Try starting your day by writing down what tasks you need to achieve for the day, and then order them in terms of priority. This can help you keep focused, productive and make sure the most important things get done!
6. Take a Break
Remember, we are not machines! It is not possible for us to keep going and going and maintain a good level of focus for the full working day. Think about elite athletes – they don’t train 24/7, they set aside time for rest and recovery. Our brains need time to recover too, and so it is important to take breaks to refocus the mind. It is vital to ensure we take time to hydrate and to eat, ideally a healthy balanced meal to avoid that sluggish slump after a heavy meal! The best ways to re-invigorate the mind are to avoid mindless scrolling of social media, and instead opt for activities which relax us but – for example taking a short walk, doing a breathing exercise or meditation, or chatting to a colleague or friend.
The Pomodoro Technique is a very helpful structure to follow to help increase focus and productivity. Check out our blog on this here.