6 tips to stay focused at work

I get easily distracted. With so many browser tabs open and email messages, my eyes are constantly moving around the screen looking for some sort of information. My mind quickly goes into information overload and I completely forgot what I was doing in the first place.

Taking back control of my focus was not an easy task. I learnt through many mistakes what worked for me. Here are some tips that I would like to share with you.

1. Clarity and Simplicity.

One of my major problems is having everything opened on my screen. My task bar is overloaded with 100 bajillion windows.

Now, I try to follow the rule of “One thing at a time”. I close every single thing on my screen and only open what I need. If it is MS word then I only open that. If it is email, then I only open that while all other applications are closed. This might be tedious but it keeps the mind alert and focused.

2. Write out directions

Write out exactly everything that you need to accomplish. Write down the path that help accomplish your goals.

Break it down in small chunks. When you start work, your mind will be looking for every possible solution. Rather than doing it all in your head, take out a piece of paper or steal one from the printer and write out a game plan.

Sounds trivial but its not. You are so used to planning while working that it’s second nature to always do it in front of the computer. The problem is the computer. It is so easy to get distracted with the computer in your face.

Turn off the computer screen and write yourself an action list.

3. Costly

Heard of the swearing jar? Now build yourself a procrastination jar. Give a coworker, family member or a friend $100. Tell them to give it to you when you complete a certain project. Show them proof that you are done the project. I normally give the money to my younger brother. If I gave it to my older brother, then I would never see it back.

Sometimes having incentive rewards will help you get the job done. The embarrassment of not finishing a task and loosing $100 will hurt. Failing stings. You will be pumped to continue.

4. Website Blocker

Download a good website blocker. There are tons of website blockers out there. I love the “WasteNoTime” blocker for safari and “Website Blocker Beta”for chrome. Block all the websites that have nothing to do with work.

Some website blockers have time capability. Limit yourself to 15 minute use of any time wasting website. The rest of the time should be for focus.

5. Gradually build strength

You are all pumped to finish the project. You jump on your desk and start working for 5 hours straight. Slowly, you start to get annoyed very easily and soon enough you start hating work. Welcome to being burned out.

You can’t jump into work and do it for long periods of time. You have to crawl before you can walk.

Slowly build yourself up for longer periods of work. Set a stopwatch for 15 minutes. Take a 5-minute break when the time is up. Slowly start adding 5 minutes to the amount of time you must work.

6. Complete Easy Things first.

Solving hard problems could be very intimidating. The daunting task could overwhelm your mind. The easiest way to get around this is by starting off with completing the easiest tasks first.

Create a to do list with everything you have to finish today. Review the to-do list and divide the task into “short” vs “hard/long” items. Short items are things you can complete within 10 – 30 minutes. The harder items require full mental capability and might take longer than 30 minutes. Next, divide and conquer

Got any tips that could help with focus?

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