How to Stay Focused at Work

How To Stay Focused At Work

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How do your colleagues stay focused at work? Seems like they can get a lot more done in a day than you can. Why, you wonder?

Sometimes, without you noticing, you have a lot of time-wasting habits that takes your focus off work. You may unknowingly tend to stray and end up doing less. So, how do you keep making progress? Here’s how to stay focused at work.

1. Time Management At Work

How is your time management at work? I do not mean only the to-do list and actions steps. Those are must haves. You can have them and yet still not stay focused at work. One of the main reasons is because you get distracted by your personal things. By this, I mean personal e-mails, Facebooking, tweeting and web surfing. To make it worse are temptations of web links sent by friends which are not related to work. What about short messages (SMS), instant messaging and personal calls? How do you expect to stay focused when there are so many distractions?

Shut these down and see how your focus immediately gets better. If you need to, allocate a time of the day to indulge in these.

2. Get The Small Tasks Out Of The Way

Small little tasks you think you can put off and come back to later? Time has an uncanny way of catching up. There will always be fire to put out. Big or small, these will steal time away from you being able to complete the small tasks. For example, if someone pops in an e-mail to ask for an answer which you have immediately, just reply it and get it out of the way.

3. Take Short Breaks

Before you jump in and say, “OK I will start sitting and focus on my work in some militaristic discipline way,” bear in mind – we need breaks. So take short breaks, not long breaks. I personally like a 10 minutes break for every 50 minutes that I work. The breaks allows you to stretch a little and refresh your mind hence allowing you to stay focused better.

4. Start Early

A lot of people swear by this and I am beginning to hone my skills or rather habit on this too. I recommend this, when you start your day early you get to clear out a lot of things before everyone starts to come in and disturbances starts. It’s a good time to clear e-mails, make coffee and read the online newspaper. So find a better time to do these things. Things I know you find hard to give up. That will help you stay focused at work.

5. Prevent Procrastination: Do It Now

Tough and cliché. But works tremendously. Don’t wait and don’t give yourself any excuses. You can get very good with excuses after a while and things gets pushed and pushed. How can you stay focused when there are always things that will bug you? Try this – start on some things you have been giving yourself an excuse on. As you clear out the junk in your mind, you get better focus at work.

6. Stop The Pantry Chats And Cigarette Break Banter

Be very careful if you are a manager reading this and want to implement this to increase productivity. Handle this situation with care. I have received a lot of criticism for this before. Unless you are ready, and know how – do it very carefully.

But if you are reading this as an employee and sincerely want improvement. Spy on yourself. How much time do you take for your breaks? How long do you linger in the pantry? Or your cigarette breaks? Cut them short and see how you can stay focused. How can you expect to be focused at work when you take these long breaks? Your mind is somewhere else and takes time to get back to work mode.

7. Improve Your Productivity: Attack The Hate To Do List

Things you don’t like to do? Start attacking it. Again, this is one of those things that bugs you, holds you back without you even realizing it. Call that tough client. Start on that long proposal. Once you start, you will immediately feel relieved and you can stay focused better.

Peep at yourself doing these small daily activities that muddle your focus at work. It’s not that you cannot stay focused at work, it’s because you have too many activities you create noise for yourself, and you don’t even realize it.


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Yun Siang Long

Yun Siang Long, or Long as he is popularly known, spent 16 years in three multinational ad agencies where he also trained people in areas of career management.

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