Stay Focused at Work

Being productive at work is directly dependent on your ability to focus on your current activity. I cringe when I think about how much time I have wasted thinking about where I was going to go for lunch! Those thoughts would start as soon as I got to work and would keep [...]

Being productive at work is directly dependent on your ability to focus on your current activity. I cringe when I think about how much time I have wasted thinking about where I was going to go for lunch! Those thoughts would start as soon as I got to work and would keep bubbling up until I actually arrived at the restaurant. I accomplish a lot more at work when I spend those distracted moments focusing on completing my activities instead. This same logic applies to how many times I stop to check Outlook for new e-mails. Rarely do I get an e-mail that cannot wait a few hours to be read. Staying focused is a skill that you must learn and continually practice. Below are steps for increasing your productivity by increasing your ability to focus.

1. Create and maintain an open item list that contains all of your commitments.

Your mind will wander less if you know that you have captured your commitments and that you are actively working on completing them.

2. Remove distractions from your work environment.

  • Clear your desk of distractions.
  • Shut your door to discourage interruptions.
  • Mute your phone, pager and/or mobile phone.
  • Get a comfortable chair.

3. Remove distractions from your computer.

  • Turn off the radio or your iPod.
  • Log out of your instant messaging software, Facebook, or your favorite internet site.
  • Mute your computer so that you will not hear when new messages arrive.

4. Give yourself permission to focus on one activity.

Many of us feel guilty if we are not working one hundred miles an hour while multi-tasking but as we begin to see beneficial results from focused work, we will begin to feel less guilty and more satisfied. It may take some practice before you are able to completely focus on one activity. When other thoughts come up, simply notice the thoughts and then release them.

5. Work for fifty focused minutes.

When the time period is up, finish your current task. It is more important that you complete the task than it is for you to adhere to the fifty minute guideline. As your ability to stay focused grows, gradually increase the length of your work period.

6. Take a 5-10 minute break.

Get out of your chair and move around. Do a few light stretches. Clear your mind. Don’t think about what you are working on. This break will allow you to recharge your battery so that you can fully focus during the work period.

7. Select the next activity to work on and begin the next period of focused work.

By Hugh Russell

Hugh Russell helps individuals, small businesses and non-profit agencies identify, implement and sustain improvements. Visit the Project-Transform spiritual life coaching website for access to more resources.

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