During a normal hectic day at work where you’re constantly being interrupted by emails, co-worker questions, IMs, texts and social media, staying focused on your tasks can be a challenge. But don’t give in. These eight ideas can help you maintain your concentration.
1. Get a good night’s sleep
The most important thing you can do to maintain focus occurs before you even begin your day. Get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation’s latest recommendation for adults is ideally 7-9 hours of sleep a night. This should give you enough energy to stay focused and productive throughout the workday.
2. Make a to-do list
As the familiar saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. It’s the same for your workday. If you don’t plan what you hope to accomplish during the day, you will waste time meandering from task to task, some of which are not tied to your short- or long-term goals. Nothing is more motivating and satisfying than checking off a task from your to-do list and moving on to the next item.
3. Manage your meetings
According to The Muse, if you’re a middle manager, it’s likely you spend 35% of your time in meetings, and if you’re in upper management, it can be a whopping 50%. Nothing sucks the life out of a productive day more than wasted meeting time. Getting together is sometimes necessary, but try to schedule meetings early in the morning and later in the afternoons to avoid taking up valuable, prime working time during the day.
4. Don’t go hungry
Another pre-workday tactic is to prepare for the inevitable growling stomach. This can be a huge factor since when you’re hungry, your mind is just not into what you’re supposed to be doing. Make sure you have plenty of healthy and pre-made snacks on hand and put them where they are easily accessible. You don’t want to have to wander around looking for something to tame the hungry horrors. Well-timed snacking can give you the stamina you need to keep going. Staying focused also requires hydration so drink plenty of water throughout the day.
5. Limit distractions
This can be particularly challenging in a time where so many people are working from home alongside their spouses, children or roommates. If you can, create a work space that has a door and don’t be afraid to close it. Additionally, shut off your cell phone for short periods of distraction-free time.
If you’re working in an office in a cubicle or open space, try to set up your desk so you aren’t facing heavy traffic areas.
Also, avoid getting absorbed in social media or personal email if possible. These can be major time wasters and can take you completely off track. If you must, check your personal accounts first thing in the morning, during lunch, and last thing at night but stay away from them the rest of the day.
6. Stay active
When you walk away from a task occasionally, it helps you refocus. This works well when you need information or assistance from a co-worker. Instead of sending an email or IM, pick up the phone and call or FaceTime while taking a quick walk. This not only gets you physically up and moving, but it can help build meaningful relationships with your colleagues.
7. Break for lunch
Don’t feel bad about taking a lunch break as it will help you feel much more energized and focused for the rest of the day. This is especially true if you’re able to get outside for some fresh air. Taking a noontime break can help you get through the mid-afternoon doldrums.
8. Be comfortable
If you are uncomfortable, you’re not going to be in the right frame of mind to focus on your work. So whether you’re working from home or an office, find a comfortable yet professional look. If traveling, plan ahead and bring a change of clothes or shoes that will make for an easy transition for your commute home.
It’s important to remember you’re not alone. Everyone gets distracted. The key is not to let it derail you. By following these tips, you can overcome the “noise” and maintain the focus you need to be successful.
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