Do you get distracted by people when you’re focusing on something important at work?
You’re not alone. On average, 84.4% of people are distracted at work. This research also states that co-workers (27%) are one of the most common distractions. This has a huge business cost as companies lose out on substantial profit and 720 hours a year per person working.
We obviously can’t eliminate our co-workers but can communicate our ‘focus time' to them. We forget that our co-workers can also be a good source of collaboration and human connection. One of the simplest and most important things you can do to tackle this problem is to use a visible sign.
But you have to be consistent. You can't have the visible sign-up all day long because you can’t focus 24/7. You only use the sign during your sacred focus time. Example:
- I use a sign at home for my husband when I’m in Focus Mode or meditating.
- I'm a morning person. In my first 90 minutes, I am on fire getting tasks done, so my sign is on the door. It’s also on when coaching or speaking, so I’m not accidentally interrupted. I also block my internet distractions with Freedom** during this time.
But, if I'm answering emails or working on marketing stuff, i.e., things that don't require that deep focus for me, I take the sign off the door. If you don’t have a door, hang it on your chair.
Whenever you want to be focused, put on your most ridiculous hat— like a pirate hat or one with elf ears. This signals to others that you should not be disturbed! (Eventually, it will start getting you in the zone faster too). Once you set the ground rules that anyone wearing this crown cannot be disturbed, you’ll have your little safe haven for focused work sessions!
What do you want to use your visible sign for?
Here are seven more ideas to manage distractions and improve focus:
- Block outside stimuli with headphones and turn off desktop notifications to implement a quiet period of focused work in your office.
- The Pomodoro Technique is a brain training technique in which you focus on a task for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break, and start again for 25 minutes. This is done for four periods, then you take a longer 20-30 minute break. You can start with 15-minute periods and build to 25 minutes if this is too hard initially. You can check out my favorite Pomodoro Time Tracking App, i.e., Focus Booster**.
- Meditation is also a brain training technique. It can start as simple as closing the eyes and trying to visualize the process of eating an apple, focusing on each sensation. Try stretching this to 10 minutes of focusing on one thing at a time. It may be helpful to try using meditation on an app like Calm.
- Technology Vacations – when the brain is confronted with two tasks, it will choose the easier one; technology is almost always the easiest. Being mindful of technology and setting limits can help the brain focus and concentrate. One technique is to use an app like Rescue Time** to understand how much time you spend on all websites and applications. This will help you plan breaks and maintain positive boundaries with technology.
- Prioritize and leave more challenging tasks for when the brain feels awake and refreshed. When completed, the brain can focus better, complete tasks quicker, and feel less drained. Make a list of the tasks needed and put them in order from hardest to easiest. Do the complex tasks before the brain is tired and take breaks.
- Make sure the motivation for a task is evident. This allows for a better focus. Concentration becomes easier when a passionate goal is involved and a clear reward at the conclusion.
- Calming music can help people block out noise and focus on their jobs. Brain.fm** is one such app that provides music for focus sessions and affects your brain positively to get in the zone.
You can also check other things I recommend to focus at work.
What steps do you plan to use during your next focus session?
Most importantly, whether you're a senior executive or a multi-million dollar company founder, every successful person knows the importance of focusing on the task. A baseball player must be intensely focused on the moment, watching the pitch and deciding when to swing. A hedge fund manager overseeing billions of dollars must apply the same focused vision to his or her decision-making.
But for many of us, the focus seems elusive. We allow ourselves to be distracted by technology, people, and even our thoughts.
Post written by Marcey Rader and Rijul Arora.
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