How do we stay focused and productive at work without sacrificing our own well-being? We give you some ideas.
It’s sad, but it’s getting harder and harder to stay focused as we work.
Interruptions are inevitable!
From phone calls and emergency meetings to coworkers wanting to have a conversation, not to mention the biggest consumer of our time: “social media.”
Being interrupted at work has become part of the job.
Studies have shown that when we are interrupted, it can take approximately 23 minutes to regain our focus and that when we are forced to finish our work, our stress level increases and can even lead to exhaustion.
But with all these interruptions, how can we stay focused on work and getting things done?
First, we have to ask ourselves why do we lose our focus and concentration?
Why do many of us lose our concentration at work?
By identifying common distractions at work, we can better prepare ourselves to avoid them and keep our focus, and here are some of them:
Sometimes we tend to delay our work until it gets too close to the deadline, causing us to rush to get things done.
If we procrastinate, we’ll be so concerned about how quickly we need to get our work done that we won’t be able to give it our full attention.
We can focus better if we plan and extend it over a period of time and do it in stages.
Multitasking can seem like a great way to get a lot done at once.
We may think that we are achieving a lot, but research has shown that our brains are not that good at multitasking; in fact, it reduces our productivity by up to 40 percent.
It may seem like we are multitasking, but in reality, what we are doing is rapidly shifting our attention and focus between one thing and another.
It does not save us time; in fact, it takes us longer to complete two projects when we jump back and forth than it would take to finish each one separately.
3. Lack of sleep and rest
We all know that lack of sleep negatively affects our short-term memory and our ability to pay attention.
Our brain needs a chance to recover (even for one night).
Lack of sleep affects our memory, thinking speed, and precision, which are all critical parts of focus.
4. Lack of self-care
Along with lack of sleep, lack of self-care and caring for ourselves influences our productivity.
Lack of a balanced diet, being hydrated, managing stress, and negativity can affect not only our ability to concentrate but our health.
5. We constantly check our phone
We are constantly checking our phones to see if we have text messages, notifications, or missed calls that we don’t hear.
Even if we consciously ignore the buzz or the notification, research has shown that it actually takes us out of focus by making us think about things other than what we are doing.
6. We connect to social networks
Along with constant phone checking, another common distraction is the use of social media.
How often have you logged onto a social media site to briefly check your notifications and 45 minutes later found yourself looking at photos of people you barely know?
Or worse, you get stuck on a link that looks interesting, which then leads you to click on three other related links.
Social media can quickly steal your time.
Now that we know of some factors that may be causing us to lose our ability to concentrate and focus let’s see what we can do to get them back.
How do we stay focused?
1. Put our phone in silent mode and keep it out of sight
It is necessary to create the habit of moving our phones away while we are focused on a task.
Allocate specific time to answer emails, text messages, and even check social networks.
2. Apply time management strategies
The Pomodoro Technique is an effective way to divide our workload and perform each task into 25-minute blocks of time.
The better you manage your time and stay focused, the more work you can accomplish.
Effective time management not only gives us better results at work, but it also helps us manage stress and live a more satisfying life outside of it.
3. Prioritize tasks
Learning to prioritize means making the most of our time.
It’s one of the cornerstones of productivity, and once we’ve mastered this technique, it can help us with everything from time management to work-life balance.
To prioritize our tasks, it is necessary:
Make a list of all the tasks you need to do for the day.
Identify which are urgent and which are important, that is, those that require immediate action, and assess their value. What tasks will affect my organization or work if they are not completed
Order the tasks with the highest estimated effort value, that is, those that take the most effort to complete.
Be flexible and adaptable. You probably can’t complete everything you have on the list. Constantly evaluate and start the process over.
4. Change your mindset about work
It is necessary to change our way of thinking about work by asking ourselves why we are doing a specific task.
Injecting a sense of purpose into what we do to inspire us to do it.
Think positively about our work and enjoy the process
5. Worry about your well-being
Not only does self-care help us create a balanced life, but it helps us with our productivity.
It helps us present the best version of ourselves, which is calmer, more balanced, and more focused, making us feel and act competently and with more concentration.
Here are some ideas on how to implement self-care practices
Set aside time just for yourself without distractions. Put your phone and other devices away. This is especially important if your cell phone is an undeniable part of your job. Focus on different activities that you really enjoy: dancing, walking outside, singing, reading a book, writing in a journal, painting, drawing, cooking, among others.
Spend time making real connections (not Facebook) with friends and family, talking to that person, and having face-to-face conversations.
Do something for yourself that makes you feel better, and that benefits your body, mind, and spirit.
Talk to a doctor or therapist if you feel like you need more help.
In today’s world, we are faced with countless distractions. Notifications on our phone, emails, social networks are some of them.
Distractions make us lose our focus and decrease our productivity.
But planning for these distractions is our first step in conquering them.
Prioritizing our tasks, changing the way we think about our work, and maintaining our physical and mental health are some of the options we have to achieve this.