During a normal hectic day at the office where you’re constantly being interrupted by ringing phones, co-worker questions, emails, and social media, maintaining focus on your work 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 a minimum of six and 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
A report from Atlassian says the average person spends 31 hours a month in meetings. Nothing sucks the life out of a productive day more than wasted meeting time. Getting together is sometimes necessary, but I 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. I pack healthy snacks before heading out and put them where I can easily get to them once I arrive at the office. 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. Focus also requires hydration so drink plenty of water throughout the day.
5. Limit distractions
This can be particularly challenging in an age of open offices and always-on social media. If you’re in an office don’t be afraid to close your door and shut off your cell phone for short periods of distraction-free time. If you’re in a cubicle or in an open space, try to set up your desk so you aren’t facing heavy traffic areas.
Also, avoid getting absorbed in the latest Facebook feed, Pinterest post or your personal email inbox. 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 I walk away from a task occasionally, it helps me refocus. This works well when you need information or assistance from a co-worker. Instead of picking up the phone, get up and go see them. This not only gets you physically up and moving, but it can help build meaningful relationships with your colleagues.
7. Break for lunch
I often feel bad about taking a lunch break. When I do, however, I feel much more energized and focused for the rest of the day. This is especially true if I’m able to get outside for some fresh air. Taking a noontime break can help you get through the mid-afternoon doldrums.
8. Be comfortable
You always want to dress professionally. If you’re feeling your skirt is too short, your pants are too tight, or your shoes are uncomfortable, you’re not going to be in the right frame of mind to focus on your work. Plan ahead. If you have to dress up for a meeting, bring a pair of flat shoes to change into afterward so you don’t have to be uncomfortable all day.
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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