These days you can have a lot on your plate work wise, and staying focused can be tough. With a constant stream of distractions from co-workers, clients, emails, and phone calls, all demanding your attention, if you can understand your brains limitations amid all of this noise and work around them, you may be able to improve your focus and increase your productivity.
In the brain distractions signal that something has changed, making you think “this could be dangerous”, thus causing you to divert your attention, an automatic and practically unstoppable reaction.
To make things worse, multitasking makes you feel great, giving you an emotional high, but this is the time when we make mistakes, miss subtle signs, get snappy, or spell things wrong.
Ultimately, the goal is not constant focus, but periods of distraction-free time during the working day.
Try these couple of tips to help you become more focused and productive:
Do creative work first
In order to focus effectively, reverse the order. Check off the tasks that require creativity or concentration first thing in the morning, and then move on to easier work.
Train your mind like a muscle.
Practice concentration by turning off all distractions and committing your attention to a single task. Start small, and work up to larger chunks of time. If you find your mind wandering, just return to the task at hand. It’s the same as physical fitness; you have to build the muscle to be focused.
Here are some ideas to prevent distractions affecting your productivity.
Make a list
And post it right where you will see it every time you look up, answer the phone or turn to your computer. By having it within your field of vision it will be kept noticeable.
Shut your door
physically or even virtually, this may seem like the opposite of good practice, but, if you aren’t focusing on your business there will definitely be a problem. Try implementing “quiet times” banning all intrusions during certain times of the day.
Stand up when someone comes to talk to you
this will mean that they can’t sit down and will leave when their business with you is finished. If someone is particularly stubborn walk with them down the hall, then excuse yourself and head back.
Limit outside attention grabbers
How often do you check email, Facebook, your mobile phone, or attend to WhatsApp messages? Every one of these is pulling you away from appointed tasks, so schedule specific times to take care of these issues, you will then have uninterrupted time to do your real job.
Stop putting stuff off
Procrastinating over something critical may be a matter of emotion rather than distraction. Spending time with a pencil and paper looking at the reasons why you aren’t tackling something could ultimately help to fix them.
Take small bites
If you seem to have a hectic day ahead and a large project looming, try fitting in a concentrated 15-20 minutes every now and then throughout the day, it’s surprising what you will be able to accomplish. Don’t wait for long time periods to get started, they may never arise.
Clear your work area of all the small jobs. You may easily catch sight of something that will only take a couple of minutes and stop working on the major task. These visual distractions will delay important focused time.
Your personal work environment will also play a large role in your ability to concentrate. It is important that you are comfortable, happy, well nourished and hydrated, it is also beneficial to get up and walk around now and again to get the blood flowing as well as clearing your mind.