If you feel your workday is a whirlwind and you never seem to accomplish everything you want to or need to, perhaps you have a focusing problem. It is incredibly common, because staying focused can be tough with a constant stream of projects, employees, clients, emails, and phone calls begging for your attention. It is even worse in 2014 with obnoxious phones, demanding social media and alluring websites all requiring our time. Among the noise, understanding your brain’s limitations and working around them can improve your focus and increase your productivity.
Try these four tips to help you beat the traps of distractions in the workplace and become more focused and productive:
1. Do creative work first. Typically, we do mindless work first and build up to the toughest tasks, but that drains your energy and lowers your focus. In order to be more effective, reverse the order. Check off the tasks that require creativity or concentration first thing in the morning, and then move on to easier work, or “busy work”, later in the day.
2. Allocate your time deliberately. Try developing a schedule in a way that works for you, making it as rigid or relaxed as you’d like. Notice where and when you focus best, then allocate your toughest tasks for those moments. This way you have a plan, and you run your day, instead of letting your day run you.
3. Don’t multitask. While this may seem odd, multitasking reduces our intelligence, causing us to make mistakes, miss subtle cues, and fly off the handle when we shouldn’t. It can actually be counterproductive because even though we feel busy and efficient, we are not doing quality work since we aren’t fully devoting our attention to any one thing.
4. Limit Distraction, Limit Procrastination. Distraction and procrastination are intertwined. When we procrastinate, we’re often simply succumbing to the distractions around us, putting off work in order to feel good now. Even a five second distraction can throw off the next few minutes, or hours, of work. Practice blocking off time where you close your door, put away your phone, and stay off of social media and your email.
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