How to focus and get work done

Focus on one thing
“He who chases two rabbits catches none” – Confucius

Wise words from a wise man, but most of us will relate to chasing maybe a dozen rabbits at the same time and a couple of elephants. But if we are to follow the wise words of Confucius we will get more done and achieve our goals quickly. Working on more than one thing at a time will waste valuable time. When we switch from one task to another, it takes our brain time to readjust and concentrate on the second task and precious time is lost in the changeover. The reality being that multitasking is a productivity nightmare.

Benefits of being focused
Staying committed to a central task can be greatly beneficial in the workplace

 No matter the industry you work in, increasing your attention span can propel your professional success.

Here are four benefits of being focused:

1. Builds momentum
2. Increases productivity
3. Reduces stress
4. Produces better quality of work

How to stay focused in the workplace

Here are 10 things to consider when trying to stay focused in the workplace:

1. Eliminate distractions
You will be more productive and have a better chance of staying focused when you remove anything in your surroundings that might cause interruptions. If feasible, try keeping your phone in a different room or staying offline to minimize distractions. Working alone or in a quiet environment will also make you more focused.

2. Prioritize your tasks
If you have a lengthy number of tasks to complete, it can be beneficial to not only create a to-do list, but to also rank each item by their level of importance. This will allow you to methodically work through your tasks instead of simply be overwhelmed and likely ineffectual.

3. Train your mind

Calm the mind

One of our biggest distractions is not as you may have thought – Facebook – it is our own thoughts racing through our minds when we are trying to get something done. These cheeky thoughts often tempt us away from the job that needs doing, or they annoyingly and repeatedly inform while we are working on task A that task B, C and D remain unfinished. Don’t listen, take control of your thoughts and redirect them to the job at hand. A great way to still the mind is meditation. It can help to silence the constant chat we all experience from time to time. It can be a great assistance to focus.

4. Work in a quiet space
When you’re working alone or in a secluded area, you’re more apt to get more work done. A quiet environment ensures you won’t be interrupted by colleagues or other noisy distractions from your workplace environment.

5. Try meditation
Taking the time to relax, breathe and meditate can greatly improve your cognitive abilities. Try practicing yoga to strengthen your ability to concentrate in the workplace.

6. Exercise
Exercising regularly stimulates your brain and keeps it refreshed. Engaging in physical activity will also improve memory capacity and overall concentration. Not only will it help you stay energized, but it’ll also give you the extra boost you need to stay on task at work.

7. Take breaks
Taking time for yourself is a great way to avoid burnout. While steadily completing tasks is important, giving your mind time to recharge and relax can be greatly beneficial for your mental health. If you’re stuck on a task, walking away for a short while can provide you with a fresh perspective. Taking a break and allowing your brain time to shutdown can also provide you with the momentum you need when you return to work.

8. Get a good night’s sleep
Sleeping at least eight hours a night is a great way to make sure you’re in your best physical and mental state when you arrive at work. Being sleepy causes you to slow down. Getting a good night’s rest, on the other hand, allows you to remain alert and awake—especially during the morning hours.

9. Focus on one thing at a time
When you direct your attention toward one sole task, your risk of distraction minimizes. Rather than multitasking, keep your brain actively engaged on one thing at a time. Increase your quality of work and your attention span by focusing on one task first, then move onto the next.

10. Allot time to certain tasks
When determining what tasks you need to complete, consider the length of time you’ll need to complete each. Scheduling out your day and exercising your time management skills will help you complete your work more efficiently and help you stay on top of it all.

11. Clarification of Goals
Being clear about our goals and objectives will help us focus and stay on track. It motivates us to continue and persist when we are lacking the inspiration. If your goals is to de-clutter your home and be more organized, your objective maybe to reduce stress and induce calm. For another person the objective may be because they are putting their house up for sale and need the house looking good and attractive. It’s important to clarify your objectives in order to maintain the motivation and ensure that what you are working on is getting you closer to that goal.

The more we simplify our lives and our jobs, the more work we get done. But we don’t just want to get work done, we want to get the important tasks done, the tasks that make a difference to the big picture. Many of us busy ourselves doing tasks that are unnecessary, wasting time on things that aren’t adding value to our lives or our jobs. If you can simplify and eliminate the unnecessary from your life you will have more time to focus on what is important, and it will also become a lot easier to maintain this focus.

What other methods do you use to stay focused?

1. Set Up A Specific Workplace
And stay there. That specific workspace may be a specific room (your home office), or a part of a room. Whatever it is, it must be clearly designed as a work area, with as little interference from your home space as possible. The coexistence of your home and work space is just a happy accident. But just because of that, those two spaces don’t necessarily have to blend together.

3. Work Outside Home
In coffee shops or other places, like shared offices. It may sound a little bit counterintuitive, to work outside your home when you’re working from home. But only in the beginning. You’ll soon realize that working from home doesn’t mean you have to stay there all the time. It basically means your home is also your office and you’re free to go outside if you want to.

I know this may not apply to all of the “work from home” situations, but for those related to information processing, when all you need is a laptop an internet connection, that usually works beautifully. It adds a very necessary element of diversity and freshness. It can also be the source of some very interesting social interactions, especially when you have to solve all sort of digital nomad situations.

4. Go Out!
Working from home may be socially alienating. After almost 3 years of doing it, I finally accepted this as a fact. So, apart from balancing your home time with consistent sessions of working outside of your home, you should definitely go out more often. Our normal work routine, the one that is performed in an office, that is, makes for an important slice of our social interaction needs. Once you’re working from home, that slice won’t be there anymore. But your need for social contacts will remain constant.

5. Thoroughly Log Each And Every Day
It goes hand in hand with keeping a personal journal, but this time it’s about work, not personal feelings and experiences. Keep a detailed log of each project and be always ready to pick up from where you left one day or one week ago in just a matter of minutes. It’s not only a productivity enhancer, although it will help you be more productive, but it’s more on the accountability area.