“IN THE OFFICE, NEARLY 50% OF AMERICAN EMPLOYEES SAY THEY WORK FOR ONLY 15 MINUTES BEFORE BECOMING DISTRACTED, WHILE 53% REPORT WASTING AN HOUR OR MORE A DAY BECAUSE OF DISRUPTIONS.” –TIME
Distractions happen, and focus can get lost easily. In the average half an hour in a business owner’s job, they’ll work on a task, receive numerous emails, maybe get a phone call and have multiple notifications arrive on their mobile. Focus can be lost often instantly, and it isn’t always easy to get it back.
The first thing to do is to try to work out why you’re losing focus. Perhaps you’re tired; some weeks can be all go with no breaks, and you begin to wonder what you’re actually running on. You might be so busy that as you’re trying to concentrate on Task A, you’re thinking about B, C and D and questioning when they’ll get done. There might be too many distractions around you; emails coming in almost every five minutes, or thinking about a problem outside of work. Figuring out why you’re distracted is half the problem and will help you as you try to regain your focus and stay on track. With a plan to attempt to stay focused all week long, try some of these exercises and watch your work day turn around.
TURN OFF DISTRACTIONS
As helpful as the mobile and tablet may be, it is a huge distraction. One minute you’re writing a report, the next minute an email comes in and your attention switches instantly. The new Apple Watch is very aware of this in their new device, and allows you to choose what emails come in – very smart. If you’re aware that your technology is a distraction, turn it off or minimize your notifications.
We’ve discussed this in a past post; sometimes one of the best ways to get on without distractions is to go offline. Send emails (and send them to the Outbox) and prevent replies coming in quickly, write a report without your email notification noise and change your rhythm. The world will still continue even if you’re offline and you can catch up with it when your task requiring focus is complete.
EAT RIGHT & EXERCISE
It’s easy to skip a meal when you’re on the go; how many times has dinner come around and you realise you actually skipped lunch? Your body needs fuel to carry on and maintain your focus. Exercise helps too; it keeps your body strong. Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, and if stopping for a lunch break isn’t always easy, carry healthy snacks around with you to eat on the go such as dried fruit and nuts. Try to avoid chocolate and unhealthy food; it won’t help.
LEARN TO SAY NO
Sometimes in business, you have to say no. Meeting requests, business lunches, after-work drinks. Do you sometimes wish you could split in two for everything you need to attend? If the answer is yes, then you definitely need to say no every now and again. Too many events and commitments can lead to busier days as you try and get emails done before you head out, when you really could do without the office lunch. Say no doesn’t offend; they’ll respect you when you’re busy. Rearrange when you have time.
Sometimes focus can be lost when your mind is tired. Too much time in front of the computer and a few late nights in a row can leave your brain feeling frazzled. Instead of attempting to just continue hour after hour, ensure you take regular breaks. It can be something as simple as popping to the water cooler for ten minutes or just stepping outside for some fresh air. Don’t think about work in this time; shut off and let your mind refresh itself. It deserves the break.
SHUT YOUR DOOR
Open office environments are great, but sometimes all of the noise can lead to lost focus, especially when you just need to think. Make your co-workers aware that you’re working on something important, and shut your door. If that isn’t possible, head to a co-working space or somewhere you know is guaranteed to be quiet. Your focus will be regained and work back on track.