(Guest writer: Woody Romelus)
Keeping yourself focused at work can be hard sometimes. You start your day by telling yourself that you will get a good number of tasks done today. As determined as you are, you might end up doing unimportant tasks instead of the real ones – just like most of us here.
So how do we avoid all these attention-seeking unnecessary tasks and make sure we accomplish what we should be accomplishing? Here are five tips to improve your focus at work and how you can discard activities that can divert your attention.
Work in chunks
It’s a scientific fact that our brains can only be attentive to a limited amount of information for a limited amount of time. The difficulty is to ensure the appropriate information in mind is what lines up with our tasks at work.
To ease the burden of your brain, it is better to segment your work into small manageable pieces. The idea is you do not want to spend an entire day working on one task non-stop. Breaking it up allows your brain to ‘breathe’, and it will reward you later with effective work.
So work in small portions, then leave your desk, walk around a bit and if you’re lucky, go outside breathe in some fresh air to recharge your mind.
Reward yourself for your determination
It’s not really a bad thing to visit sites like Facebook, Meebo, or Twitter to get your social updates, but it’s important to not spend huge amounts of time on them, especially when your work is not complete.
What I tend to do is create a set of tasks that I need to complete before I can visit any of those sites or leave my desk. I will work a while, complete a task, then reward myself by spending some time to catch up with a friend.
This strategy relies on sheer perseverance and strong will to go back to work. So if you can’t stick to the goals that you set, try another method.
Find the right music
Some people just cannot push through an entire workday of coding or designing without the appropriate music to keep them motivated. For me, it’s either intense techno or alternative music that sustains me throughout the day.
I believe it’s important that whatever genre you decide to listen to, make sure its music can be easily filtered out while keeping the work progress at full throttle.
For myself, I can not listen to music that makes me think about the words or sucks me into wanting to fall asleep, both of which become a distraction. Finding a happy medium will increase your drive immensely and will make the day fly right by.
If all else fails and you just can’t seem to get away from the Facebook and pesky co-worker emails, you have to hide. Go invisible on the instant message clients, set the away message to “BUSY, DON’T BOTHER ME”.
And for those workers who love to stop by your desk, throw on those headphones, so they don’t feel inclined to spark up a conversation.
I often have to hide from being disturbed by others. It seems the moment one person starts talking to me that the floods of people come. I’ve learned to never engage in a conversation while trying to focus or make sure that I’m in control if I am in those situations.
Be interested/passionate about your work.
Finally, the best way to be productive is to truly enjoy and be passionate about what you’re working on. We go to great lengths and hours of work for things that interest us.
Yet, we lose focus instantaneously if what we are doing is not essential. It might take some time to find interest in your work; you might have to just think about the big picture or focus on impressing those around you (possibly a boss) to stay on track.
Editor’s note: This post is written by Woody Romelus for Hongkiat.com. Woody is a web designer who has been solving design-related problems for five years. He is pursuing a Masters degree in Software Engineering, where he would like to fill the gap between development and design.