Sometimes it can feel harder than usual to keep your mind from wandering and keep focussed on the task at hand, but if you feel like you’ve got a short attention span more often than not, we’re here to teach you how to stay focused at work!
Stick to a schedule
It’s so easy to pick up your phone every time you hear a Twitter notification, or check your emails when you hear the ping of a new message, but this needs to change. Research Psychologist Larry Rosen Ph.D, believes that the way to combat this is to re-train our brains so we don’t automatically respond to stimuli. Try this tactic to stay focussed at work – set a 1 minute alarm on your phone and use this time to check any new notifications or messages. When the time is up put your phone face-down for ten or 15 minutes and ignore it. Repeat the test, leaving your phone a little longer every time until eventually you can go 20-30 minutes without wanting to go on it.
When you keep doing this over time you’ll become less interested in constantly feeling like you have to be on your phone, and will find it easier to concentrate on other tasks.
Pencil it in
If you feel like the day is open to anything, you’re more likely to waste your time and float from one project to another without any sense of order. Learn to get organised and plan things in advance, looking at important tasks you need to do tomorrow, this week or by the end of the month. Diaries aren’t just for Bridget Jones any more, and having a planner with a clear plan of how your next few weeks will look will help you keep focussed on what you actually need to get done.
If you try to work for a long period of time on one task, you’ll find yourself becoming distracted much sooner than expected. Don’t focus on one task for more than 25-30 minutes without taking a break, even if it’s just going to get a drink, and if you’re having a quick walk, try not to focus on work problems as you stretch your legs, and give your brain a chance to have a temporary rest.
Create the right environment
If your desk is overflowing with plants, gadgets, gizmos and everything in between chances are you’ll end up fidgeting with something and getting distracted. If you want to improve your focus at work, create an environment that is calm and clutter free. You can still have some personal knick-knacks, but try to keep them at a minimum and make sure whatever you have around is organised. Use a desk tray to keep papers tidy, a pot for stray pens and don’t have charging cables tangled and draping across your desk.
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