These days, distractions exist everywhere. From cell phones and smartwatches to email and social media notifications, it seems that every day presents a new challenge for remaining focused while at work.
We live in a world where most of us suffer from immediacy syndrome, which is the feeling that we must respond immediately to every text, every email, every notification, and even every work-related request, as soon as we become aware of it. Unfortunately, that leaves workers feeling like they are being pulled in millions of different directions.
Experts say that reducing interruptions and distractions is the best way for workers to maintain focus while on the clock because it is often impossible to focus on the task at hand with so many disruptions occurring throughout the workday. That is especially true for workers whose daily tasks may not be exciting or seem never-ending.
Thankfully, experts say that there are ten simple ways to maintain focus while at work and refocus whenever you become distracted or your mind begins to wander.
1. CREATE A DEEPLY FOCUSED WORK RITUAL
To achieve deep focus, you must embark on a workplace ritual that addresses both the mind and the body. Experts say that by setting psychological and physical expectations, you can more quickly settle into a more focused working state.
That means creating a working environment that will fit your needs, like ensuring your workspace is clean and quiet. Also, be sure to have the items that will help you stay focused, including appropriate clothing, water, coffee, or noise-canceling headphones.
Get in the habit of preparing your work environment like this every day, and you are more likely to achieve deeper focus.
2. DITCH THE DEVICE
To create that more deeply focused work environment, consider putting away distracting devices, such as your cell phone or smartwatch, as part of your ritual. By doing so, you will significantly reduce your work distractions.
If leaving your devices at home or in your car or locker is not an option, consider turning off all notifications.
3. SET WORKPLACE BOUNDARIES
Experts say setting boundaries among co-workers and others in your workspace is crucial to maintaining focus. For example, anyone who interrupts your flow can be gently told that you are busy and you’ll touch base with them when you are done.
Unfortunately, people will continue to do things until someone tells them not to.
4. IF YOU GET INTERRUPTED, TAKE NOTE OF WHAT YOU ARE DOING
Depending on the type of work you do, it is not uncommon, after an interruption, to forget what you were doing before you were pulled away. In these cases, experts say you should consider making a quick note of what you were doing as soon as the work is interrupted. That way, you can quickly get back to what you were doing.
5. APPLY THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE
The Pomodoro Technique breaks your work into smaller chunks and is especially helpful when performing complex tasks.
To perform this technique, you should set a timer for 25 minutes or a half hour and work through that interval. When complete, take a break for five minutes. Repeat this four times and take a 15-minute or half-hour break before repeating the cycle.
This method is similar to exercise training and lets you work effectively while breaking the monotony with regular breaks.
6. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Drinking water is vital to remaining focused, experts say. Without the proper amount of water, our bodies become fatigued. If we become dehydrated, our bodies naturally try and conserve energy, which ultimately diminishes our focus.
7. TAKE BRAIN BREAKS
Workers must walk away from their work regularly because it helps with maintaining long-term focus. Moving one’s body, having a snack, and getting water, are all good ways to take a mental break.
Our brains need relaxation if we are going to remain focused on the task at hand, so checking your email or social media is not an appropriate brain break.
8. FOCUS YOUR BREATHING
The practice of conscious breathing, experts say, is the best way to refocus the mind.
The next time you lose focus on the task, a five- to seven-second inhale/exhale for a few minutes will bring noticeable calm and help you refocus.
9. CONTROL SELF TALK
When you control how you talk to yourself, you can stay better focused on your work. Worry, fear, self-doubt, and negative self-talk can cause a worry spiral that pulls us away from the task in front of us.
Worry wastes energy that would be better channeled into the work ahead.
10. PRACTICE SELF CARE
Many focus challenges come from being overtired or not feeling good. Whether not getting enough sleep or not eating right, remaining focused at work requires caring for the mind and body.
Taking care of yourself will often translate into taking care of your work.