Train Your Brain: How to stay focused at work

You start your day focused, ready to tackle your day one task at a time. Suddenly something comes up and without giving a thought to how pressing the distraction is you veer off course. Five minutes, ten minutes, an hour later you have no idea where you left off and you can’t focus on what you were doing before that distraction. Unfortunately this all too common in the workplace today, one small distraction veers you off course and you can’t focus again for the rest of the day. Check out a list of easy things you can do to help you train your brain and stay focused at work all day.

  • Utilize your headphones.
    • Music is very useful in helping you drown out distracting noises, whether it’s the printer always printing or a loud phone conversation behind you. Make sure that what you are listening to is appropriate for the task at hand. For example, an intensely detailed podcast might not be the right choice when you are working on a project that demands your full attention. Check out this article on what type of music you should listen to depending on the task at hand.
  • Stay away from social networking (unless it’s your job).
    • Checking Facebook leads to a trending topic on Twitter which leads to liking an Instagram photo and discovering a new restaurant in your area, which is great but not great for your work focus. While breaks are important, unscheduled Internet breaks can keep you from getting into the “flow” of work. Even quick surfing as a reward for completing that time consuming task will snap you out of your most productive periods, which can be hard to restart.
  • Keep your email habits in check.
    • While emails are the main mode of communication between co-workers and clients today, emails are also a productivity killer. With access to emails on your computer, phone and tablet, it's all too easy to keep checking for new messages every five minutes. Doing so can mean you spend all day reading and writing emails instead of focusing on your to-do list. Force yourself to check emails at certain times throughout the day.
  • Establish a routine.
    • A lot of people may tell you to put your hardest tasks first as you have energy in the morning and are normally more drained as the day goes on. But everyone works differently so find your own groove whether that is small tasks first thing in the morning to get yourself into motivated or putting the tasks you dread first to get them out of the way. Whatever works for you is your perfect routine.
  • Work in Blocks.
    • Most people have a limited stretch of time they can focus during a day. Eventually a break is needed. A common technique is working for 60 to 90 minutes then stopping for a quick break. This break only needs to be a few minutes; take a walk, use the restroom, fill up your water bottle or walk outside and get some fresh air. Whatever you choose to do, let your brain rest and take a true break (no quickly checking emails or surfing social media). After a couple minutes get back to work feeling refreshed and ready for another 60-90 minutes.
  • Prioritize tasks
    • You can separate your to-do list into three lists: things to do that day, things to do the next day, and things to do that week. If you finish the tasks for that day but have some time left over, you can move on to the next set of tasks.
  • Declutter your work space
    • Files, drawers and mailboxes are extremely helpful storage solutions to keep the papers off your main work area and neatly filed for later use. Using the last five minutes of your day to tidy up your desk helps you start the next day with a clean slate.
  • Snack and stay hydrated.
    • A growling stomach can often be more of a distraction then the noises of a bustling office. If you job allows it, try eating three small meals while at work instead of a large lunch and always keep a water bottle within arm’s reach. Refilling your bottle is also a great excuse to get up and take a quick walk to stretch your legs.
  • Get comfortable by choosing the right workstation for your needs.
    • Do you often find that you just don’t have enough room on your desk to complete your work? Monitors can take up a lot of valuable desk space but the Freedom Arm and 7Flex series easily fixes that problem for you. These stylish articulating arms suspend your flat panel monitor above your work surface and simple move to where you need them leaving you to utilize that previously occupied desk space.