Between coffee and smoking breaks, chatting with co-workers, and checking social media, it is all too easy to get off task. Did you know that if you are productive for less than three hours per day, you will accomplish as much as the average worker gets done in 8 hours? Staying focused at work can help you get better results in less than half the time. There are more hacks than ever to use technology to work for you, and not against you to stay focused at work.
Why you should perfect your work routine
Learning to stay focused at work is just like training for a physical event. You need to build up your brain’s endurance. Honing in on the strategies that will help you can make focusing a lot easier.
These techniques include everything from music and apps to stretching and exercising. Perfecting your work routine will mean you can achieve your goals without feeling overwhelmed by deadlines. Here are the tips we use to get more done in less time!
1. Create a dedicated workspace
This tip is a classic, but for good reason. Our brains create positive associations between locations and activities. If you are sitting at the kitchen table with breakfast dishes pushed to the side, your attention is divided between work and whatever else is going on in the room. Create a workspace where you know it is time to get serious.
Make a designated place that is conducive to focusing. At the office, set up your desk so you feel focused without distraction. Try to avoid cluttering your desk. If you are in an office with a lot of noise, consider noise-canceling headphones.
2. Avoid distractions
From email notifications to a barrage of texts, we are constantly receiving input and information that makes it difficult for our brains to stay on task. During periods of focused work, put your phone on airplane mode or turn it off completely. The same goes for email and chat applications as well as anything else that could grab your attention.
Research has shown that multitasking will likely hurt your productivity levels. When you give your brain the space to focus on one task at a time, your productivity automatically increases.
3. Keep a list of distractions
Even if you’ve done your best to silence notifications, if you’re working on a computer or phone, it is easy to get distracted by announcements, offers, sales, articles, social media, and all other notifications. If something catches your attention and it is not directly related to your current assignment, add it to an empty Word page, Google document, or piece of paper.
At the end of the workday, revisit your list and see if anything that seemed pressing earlier in the day is actually all that. This will help you stay focused on work during business hours while also thinking about your ideas when your work tasks are complete.
4. Automate decisions
Everyone gets bombarded by so many daily decisions, ranging from what size coffee you want to how you can best prepare for your work presentation. The idea of automatic decisions is to reduce decision fatigue. This is what it’s called when your brain is so tired from making little decisions that it is too difficult to focus on the big ones.
Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are two famous examples of automating clothing decisions by wearing the same thing every day. Think about what else you can automate in your life. This could be the food you eat, the clothing you wear, or the time you do your chores. The more decisions you can make ahead of time, the more space you’ll have for focused productivity where it counts.
5. Set a timer
If a project seems too big or overwhelming, a great way to get started is to give yourself thirty minutes by setting a timer. During those thirty minutes of focused time, don’t stop working no matter what.
You’ll be amazed by how much progress you can make in just thirty minutes, and the project will appear so much easier, too. You can keep repeating the thirty-minute timer with a two-minute stretch or coffee break in between sessions until the project is complete!
6. Stretch or exercise
Yet another classic tip is stretching. Our bodies are not made to sit all day. Consider taking a break every half hour to improve circulation and get more blood flowing to your brain. This will result in better focus. Try stretching, walking, or even squats to shake things up. You can also consider investing in a convertible standing desk to stand while you work.
7. Do the hard thing first
As the saying goes, eat the frog first. In other words, do what you least want to do first. It sounds more logical to do the opposite and start with the easy things. But as it turns, as we work on the easy tasks, our brains become very fatigued! By the time you make it to the most difficult tasks, your best work and ability to focus have passed.
Take advantage of the increased focus at the beginning of the workday by honing in on the most difficult tasks. This will not only build a sense of accomplishment early in the day, but it will actually help you to focus on easier tasks as the day progresses.
8. Set small goals
For large projects, set mini goals for yourself. This can be as simple as working for thirty minutes or finishing the first of many steps of a project. With each mini goal you accomplish, allow yourself to feel the accomplishment for a moment before moving on to the next step.
Some people also like to make a goal calendar for each month. Want help setting goals? Learn how much you should have saved by 30 and use it as inspiration to write down some savings goals along with work-related accomplishments. Once you complete each larger task or goal, reward yourself somehow as a way of acknowledging your hard work.
Meditation is increasingly touted by top executives as the key to their success. Research has shown some types of meditation—such as Transcendental Meditation—improve focus, increase creativity, and boost intelligence among other benefits that are useful for focusing at work.
Some people prefer their own two-minute quiet meditation. Whatever you choose, select a type of meditation that has demonstrable benefits to increase focus and productivity at work.
10. Try music or even work in total silence
Some people swear by techno music with a strong beat. Others can only work in silence. You can see which fits better with your working style to get into your focused groove.
11. Make time blocks
It can also be exhausting to focus on the same task all day. Map out two-to-four hour time blocks for different projects. When the time is up, switch gears for a fresh perspective and start focusing on your next task.
12. Automate your financial goals
One of the biggest reasons to be more productive is to increase your income and earning potential. MoneyLion is here to help by offering ways to make money from your smartphone. You can also try the best budget apps and consider MoneyLion’s personal finance tracking to start automating your financial management.
Focusing can become a habit
With these tricks, you can train your brain to focus more productively throughout the workday. Remember that it is not about being focused at work for 8 hours straight. Start with half an hour and build your focus endurance from there. Respect your need for breaks before trying to focus even more. With practice, you will learn which techniques work best to stay focused at work. You’ll be surprised by how well you can increase your productivity!