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Tips on Staying Focused at Work

It’s easy to get distracted throughout the work day – whether that’s from the pull of checking social media, noisy co-workers, emails and instant messages, or a messy workspace demanding your attention. There are days when it’s easy to cancel out the outside world and focus solely on the job at hand, and others where it seems every little thing grabs your attention. Here are some tips for the days you’re more prone to distractions…


Plan Your Day Accordingly

Most people have certain times of the day when they find they are more productive. By working with your own unique schedule, and knocking out your most difficult and significant tasks during this time, you can save the easier tasks such as responding to emails for when your energy and focus is waning. Start your day off with a to-do list and schedule those harder tasks for during your peak hours and save the rest for later.


Email During Certain Hours of the Day

Depending on your job, it may be helpful to only check and respond to emails during certain times of the day. Having your emails constantly open and responding immediately can pull you off task and out of your current workflow. In an article on Inc., they write “Don’t keep your email open 24/7. Perhaps you’re in a job that requires you to check email 100 percent of the time. If that’s you, ignore this. More likely, though, you don’t. Be honest with yourself about how often you really need to keep your email app open. Maybe you want to do it two or three times a day, or hourly. Do what feels best for your own productivity. Personally, I resonate more with checking email two to four times a day. I respond to everybody at those times, if I can. I find it lets me focus fully on those responses when I’m sending them and ignore them at all other times. That lets me get my actual work done the rest of the time without losing focus.”


Implement 50-Minute Sprints

Another trick to help stay motivated is giving yourself a deadline to complete the task in a certain amount of time. In an article on LinkedIn, they recommend a “50-minute Sprint” saying in part, “The idea is that you set a timer for 50 minutes to accomplish a specific task, and you have two things going for you. You put the pressure on yourself that you have less than an hour to get the task complete. You have a 10 minute reward at the end of the sprint to disconnect, step away, and do something else to help you refocus before you begin the next task at hand. Then ask yourself, what reward would you like to gift yourself when your 50 minute sprint is completed? Personally, I like to go do a puzzle or go sit outside for 10 minutes. For you, it might mean calling a friend or laying down on the couch for 10 minutes.”


Play Around with Various Hacks

Certain tools such as listening to music, using noise-canceling headphones, and time and distraction-minimizing apps, can all be helpful tools. In an article on Forbes, they write, “Listen to music—studies have shown that music helps increase focus, and there are even playlists designed to maximize concentration. Opt for instrumental music so you aren’t distracted by lyrics. For maximum impact, connect your headphones to your computer rather than your phone so that when you want to skip a track your aren’t tempted to check Instagram too. Try noise canceling headphones—blocking out the audible distractions around you helps you stay in the work zone. Try a focus extension for your browser to block sites that aren’t relevant to your work – This allows you to set which websites you can and can’t view while you’re working, so if you try to check Twitter and it’s on your blocked list, all you’ll see is a blurred out screen and a reminder to get back to work.”