How to Improve Your Focus at Work
Do you have a hard time getting focused on work when you first sit at your desk in the morning?
Or do you find it your attention slipping when you’re in the middle of a difficult task?
If you’ve answered, “Yes!” to either of these questions, you’re not alone. Many of us find it challenging to get focused—and stay focused throughout the workday.
If you’re an aspirational professional, however, you need to be able to concentrate in order to get your work done. Fortunately, just like an athlete prepares for an important competition, you can incorporate certain habits, organize your workplace, and train your brain to improve your focus.
The following practical tips can help:
Spend time in nature. As Florence Williams reports in her National Geographic article “This Is Your Brain on Nature,” an increasing body of research shows that spending even a short time in nature—away from computer screens and cell phones—calms us down and sharpens our mental performance.
Practice meditation. Meditation teaches you to be mindful and focus your attention. Over time, this can significantly improve the quality and duration of your focus. You can learn to meditate by means of self-study or by attending meditation, yoga, and even certain martial arts classes.
Minimize distractions in the workplace. De-clutter your workspace. Disable desktop alerts. Silence all notifications for calls, messages, emails or social media on your devices. In addition, if there’s something on your mind, either address it before you begin working or allocate a specific time to handle it after work.
Do your most demanding tasks during times when your energy levels are highest. Since your energy level affects how well you can focus, take two or three days to determine when your energy levels are highest and when they start to drop.
You might find that in general, you’re energetic and alert in the morning, you begin to drag around noon and your energy levels are highest around two in the afternoon. You’ll likely also discover that certain activities like brainstorming sessions, client meetings or working on specific projects fuel or deplete your energy levels. Once you’ve figured out what impacts your energy levels, schedule the most important or difficult tasks at times when you’re mentally alert.
Take a break to laugh. A 2015 Australian study found that people who required sustained focus in their work benefited from being exposed to humour, since humour is not only entertaining, but also mentally replenishing. So if you feel yourself losing focus, don’t get frustrated. Instead, take a couple of minutes to watch the latest Grumpy Cat video on YouTube or listen to your favourite comedy podcast.
If you keep these tips in mind, you can greatly improve the quality of your concentration. This will not only give you a winning edge on your next project; it will also enhance your professional performance for the long-term.