This is a guest post by Arina Katrycheva.
We always blame external factors for distraction.
At some point, it makes sense, as it’s hard to concentrate on something when there are too many distractions and too many tasks. But we should also take into account the physical and psychological aspects that can impact our ability to focus.
Poor organization at the workplace is the main external factor that leads to the loss of focus.
Tackling several tasks at a time, spending too much time on needless communications, and working in a noisy room kill our ability to concentrate.
Tiredness and low energy are physical factors that affect our attention, lack of sleep and poor nutrition cause both of therm.
Some of the office workers who have concentration problems also experience constant fatigue and stress: they just don’t have time to take a break. This causes attention deficit and a dramatic decrease in productivity.
The main psychological factor that affects our concentration is the lack of the habit to stay focused.
The brain of an average office employee is trained to be unfocused: in the environment of multitasking, our brain adapts to change the focus of attention every few minutes. Which ultimately works against us: we end up unable to retain our attention on a task even when the deadline is close.
What’s the solution?
Developing the ability to focus is not as difficult as it may seem. In most cases, we can’t change the distracting environment, but what we can do is change our physical condition and attitude.
Let’s take a look at these recommendations that are worth following.
The first thing you should do is to improve your nutrition and sleep habits. A healthy diet and at least seven hours of sleep will reduce fatigue and improve brain function. Even after a week of good sleep and healthy food, you’ll notice after a while that you don’t get stressed and tired as easily as before.
Get rid of all major distractions.
Consider using software tools blocking social networks blockers. They really will help you overcome your social media addiction.
Next, plan your day in the morning.
Write your to-dos on paper and check what is done throughout the day. Try using reminders and scheduling tools. When dealing with forgetfulness and disorganization, they can be a great help.
Most of the time, planning can be the sole reason why you follow through on your goals.
Start the day with getting something done – even at home, not at work.
William McRaven, a retired US Navy Admiral, emphasizes the importance of making the bed in the morning: you complete the first task of your day, and it encourages you to beat laziness during the rest of the day and do more.
Set priorities for your tasks wisely and schedule your time so that nothing slips out of your mind. Do creative tasks first, as they require more focus than routine ones.
Identify your biggest time wasters using timesheet software.
Record your time expenses, review daily, weekly, monthly etc. statistics, and analyze your progress. It will help you to focus on more important activities.
Block out unimportant communications.
Both verbal and written, and focus on your high-priority tasks. Establish a communication hierarchy within the team, it will help set up clear boundaries between what’s important and what’s not.
For long-term positive effects, experts suggest training the brain as a muscle. Try staying concentrated longer and practice focusing when you don’t really need to – for example, read a book in a noisy room.
If you are a manager, try to keep your team focused too.
To increase personal responsibility and improve attention of each employee set up a clear work process with a breakdown structure can help.
Use special employee timesheet tools to assign projects to your teams to keep track of their progress and results.
Improving your ability to stay focused is certainly not an easy task, but it’s not an impossible one either. Lack of motivation is the biggest obstacle for most of us, but with a little bit of effort and helpful productivity tools, it won’t be long before you see some good results. Although the steps covered above are fairly basic, they can be a great first step towards improving your focus.