The art of staying focused
Staying focused is hard to do. There are so many personal and professional things that are constantly trying to get your attention and pull you away from what you are working on.
How well do you do staying focused on your task?
There is certainly an art to staying focused and getting the job done in an efficient manner. Here are several easy and practical things that you can do today to help you be more focused at work.
Keep your work area clean
The space that you work in can be a distraction to you in subtle or obvious ways depending on how much you clean up your workspace. Some areas to be mindful of:
- Your desk should be clean except for the things that you need to work on your current task. Just like at home, surfaces tend to collect things. Get organizers as needed to ensure you don’t have stacks of folders, files, paperwork, or other items that can add distractions and stress.
- Streamline your personal effects. I always encourage people to have some personal items in their workspace. If nothing else, it helps for people to see a different side of you and a way for them to connect with you outside of the workplace. Be mindful not to go over the top here. Instead of two dozen pictures, what’s your top four? Rotate them out from time to time to stay fresh. Keep knick-knacks to a minimum as well.
Keep a daily calendar and to-do list
I can’t stress the importance of keeping a monthly/daily calendar to help you stay focused. It helps you stay focused in a number of ways.
- Set it and forget it! Requests for time, meetings, and other projects that pop up throughout the week and cause you to lose focus on what you are doing at the moment. Set those times and dates as quickly as possible so they won’t be a distraction and you can get back to work.
- Pull the day off of your monthly calendar. Have your daily calendar handy so that you quickly see what you’ve got going on that day. I use a mousepad size pad (7in x 8 1/2 in) to write out my day similar to a to-do list. I have a good friend that prints her daily calendar view off. Many people are list junkies and this helps you stay focused on knocking each thing off of your list. It’s also an easy way to add things that need to be done today but don’t have a specific time attached to them.
Have a place to park your ideas
We’ve talked before about chasing after the proverbial rabbits that pop up in our daily lives, both at work and at home. Have a place to capture the idea, need, or topic so you can address it later. This is one of the reasons why I use such a large pad of paper for my daily calendar. I can capture several days on it, plus I have room to park these types of ideas and distractions on so I can address them later.
Minimize outside distractions
While you often can’t get rid of all outside distractions, there are steps that you can take to eliminate some and minimize others. Some simple things that you can do include:
- Move to a quieter area.
- Close the door to your space.
- Let others know not to disturb you for a set amount of time.
- Shut down windows, tabs, and apps that you don’t need on your computer while you work.
Take care of your phone
Your phone can oftentimes be an enemy when it comes to staying focused and getting things done. There are a number of easy things that you can do to minimize its distraction on you.
- Set your phone to Do Not Disturb.
- Have a dedicated charger at your desk that is just out of your normal reach. This will keep it nice and charged when you are done and makes it a little less tempting to pick up suddenly.
- Minimize the number of notifications you get, especially ones that are pushed to your lock screen.
Check out Episode 248 (Tips to strengthen your attention) for more help to stay focused on a daily basis.
Stay focused, stay productive, and rock your workday!
Make a better tomorrow.