With constant notifications, meetings, social media, and daily updates from friends, it’s easy to get sidetracked from your work goals. Being able to maintain focus is an essential skill that can help you be productive and accomplish tasks on time.
Below are six ways to tackle distractions so you can stay focused at work.
1. Create a to-do list
Making a list of tasks to complete can help you stay on track, prioritize, and overcome distractions. Start by listing everything you need to accomplish during the day. Once you have your list, break it into smaller, more manageable tasks, if applicable. Next, rank tasks in order of importance. Finally, allocate dedicated time slots for each task.
With a well-organized to-do list, you can focus on finishing one task before moving on to the next. Revisit your list throughout the day and cross off completed tasks—this can give you a little boost of motivation.
2. Take short breaks
Taking breaks may seem counterproductive, but periodic breaks every hour or after completing a task can replenish your focus and energy. Use those breaks to stretch, walk around, grab a snack, or catch up with colleagues.
As you experiment with taking breaks at work, try different techniques and intervals until you figure out what works for you. One approach is the Pomodoro technique. This method entails dedicating 25 minutes to a task and then taking a five-minute break, repeating the cycle four times. After four cycles, take a more extended break.
3. Minimize multitasking
While multitasking may seem like a way to get more done, switching between different activities can disrupt your concentration, leading to reduced efficiency and diminished focus. Instead, try to focus on one task at a time, giving it your full attention before moving on to the next.
4. Reduce distractions
Sometimes it’s hard to focus when distractions are all around you, from friendly coworkers and loud noises to browsing social media and checking texts. To stay focused, try minimizing distractions by turning off notifications on your phone or computer, wearing noise-canceling headphones, closing unnecessary tabs, and asking your colleagues not to disturb you while you complete a task. There are also several apps that block distracting websites or limit your time on social media.
5. Organize your workspace
Decluttering your desk can reduce distractions and create a more peaceful and productive work atmosphere. At the end of each workday, set aside some time to declutter. Discard any old papers you no longer need. Keep frequently-used items within easy reach so you don’t have to disrupt your workflow when you need them. You can even try scheduling a dedicated clean-up session every Friday to tackle bigger decluttering tasks and organize your files.
6. Remind yourself of your goals
These techniques can help you stay focused on a day-to-day basis. Remembering your personal and professional goals can help you sustain focus and motivation over time. What are you working toward every day? Is it a promotion? A raise? Do you want to be able to work on a particular task or team? Are there financial goals that you want to meet, like getting a new car, saving for a down payment, putting more toward retirement, or getting a permanent life insurance policy like whole life insurance? Whatever they are, taking time to think about your long-term goals and motivations for performing well at work can help you stay focused.