How to Stay Focussed at Work and Beat Distractions

Personal Effectiveness 19th October 2016 Swagata Sharma

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In this digital age, our phone and computer screens demand our attention every other second. Even in our sleep we’re kept distracted by a heap of things that has everything to do with both our personal and professional lives. Quite obviously we then wonder about how to stay focused at work and beat every distraction hands down? Well, to begin with, slow down a bit. You need to train your brain to focus better and better every day. This will ask for consistent effort from you. Get your mind to believe that it can do the unthinkable: focus.

Having said that you may still be ready with excuses like “how can I focus when there are emails barging in my Outlook through the day” or “I keep getting calls every other minute” or “I have a dozen meetings scheduled for the day”. And, you are quite right because there’s so much to catch up on. But, when you’re faced with this mindblock think about the following that will help you sail through.

Disable notification

When you hear a notification your brain immediately wants to switch focus and see what is it that needs its immediate attention. Natural, right? But, here’s the deal. Exercise some self-control by switching off notifications on both your phone and office communicator. Set a target of going 15 minutes without getting distracted by your devices and then prolong it to another 30 minutes. You will notice that with time you will have greater control over how you function.

Set a time during the day to respond to emails

When you start responding to emails as soon as they reach your inbox, you tend to lose focus. Getting back to what you were initially doing then not only takes a little longer for you to re-focus, but also finish it with as much concentration. A way out of it is to set up 30 minutes or so just to respond to emails because not every email requires an immediate response. Besides, you don’t need to set your day as per the schedule of others. They too will realize that you aren’t available round the clock.

Start early; finish challenging tasks in the first half of the day

Reach office earlier than you would and get around to completing challenging things first. This way you know what needs your attention first thing in the morning. Once you do this, you will find a sense of accomplishment taking over which keeps you motivated & upbeat, and you become more focused to finish as much as you can through the day. Or if you think you function better post lunch then allocate the toughest tasks for that time.

Make a list of ‘unimportant tasks’

When you realize you’ve begun procrastinating then make a to-do list of seemingly less important tasks. Stick it on your board and wire yourself into checking those off your list. This way you will spend less time whiling away and utilize time productively. Understand this is a very small exercise of refocusing when your mind wants to meander in different directions.

Take short breaks

Go out for a walk to revive yourself, meet your colleagues for a coffee break because all of us need some time-out. Take a 5-minute break every half an hour and a longer one every two hours. Sticking to your desk proves nothings, especially when you know you’re just wasting time. What’s worse is that it tires you both mentally and physically. Think of this break as a reward for working distraction-free.

Ultimately, your goal is to not stay focussed at work 24/7, but go distraction-free for short durations. This will help you complete more work in less time. Try doing this and we’re sure you will notice a considerable difference in your productivity.


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