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10 Steps To Stay Focused At Work

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Maintaining focus at work can be a difficult task for even the most disciplined person. We've all had it happen where we're sitting at the computer, staring at the screen and suddenly we realize we're not actually reading what's on the screen. Your time would be better spent putting your head down on the table and closing your eyes for a minute. Here are some tips for coping and combating the loss of focus many of us experience at work. We'll explore each one of these tips in-depth over the next 10 weeks.

1. Make Daily Task Lists

Every morning, make a list of things you need to accomplish in the day. If you have long term projects, set daily goals of steps needed to achieve the project. Think about rewarding yourself for a set number of completed goals. For example, if you complete the first five items, treat yourself to a short break, go on a walk, or say good morning to a co-worker.

2. Use Lunch for Personal Emails and Phone Calls

By avoiding personal emails and phone calls, you will maintain focus on the tasks at hand. Turn your cell phone to silent or turn it off completely. This gives you something to look forward to at lunch and doesn't distract you as you're working.

3. Use Head Phones and Listen to Music

Consider getting head phones and listening to soft music or white noise. The most common cause of workplace distractions is the constant chatter of co-workers. If you share a cubicle or office with another person, agree on the frequency and type of conversation and other noise that can be made.

4. Drink Water and Snack Throughout the Day

Drinking water regularly will keep you at an optimal hydration level. Regular, healthy snacks will work to keep your energy at a steady level. Try fruits and veggies and avoid candy, chips and other sugary, fatty foods.

5. Avoid Caffeine

Caffeine is something most of us require in order to even leave the house in the morning, let along start the work day. In small doses it has no negative effects, but a regular dependency on caffeine can be detrimental. If you depend on caffeine in the afternoons as a pick-me up, think of other ways to boost your energy without consuming caffeine.

6. Keep Your Work Area Clean

Maintaining a clean work space can go a long way to improve focus. Removing clutter can calm your mind and help you focus on the task at hand.

7. Focus on One Thing at a Time

There are benefits to multi-tasking, but many people are more efficient when doing one thing at a time. Unless the tasks are very different, avoid multi-tasking. It can easily confuse you more.

8. Set Weekly Goals

Just as a daily task list gets you prepared and organized for the day, a list of weekly goals will help you organize your week. By breaking down large tasks into smaller, more manageable portions, you can plan the execution of a large task over the course of a week or two.

9. Sort Email Before It Gets out of Control

Keeping your in-box organized is an important step in maintaining workplace efficiency and focus. If there are emails you reference often, set up a new folder for each specific topic. This prevents the need to search through pages of emails in order to find the right one.

10. Limit Web Browsing

While it's tempting to pop onto the internet as you think of something, say the perfect present for your sister's birthday, instead keep a running list of things you'd like to search. Often when we get on the internet, we get lost in internet wonderland, the amazing way you can go online to find an argyle sweater and end up reading about vacationing in the Caribbean. By keeping a list nearby of things to look into, you can spend a few minutes on your lunch break in a focused search.

Be sure to come back next week for the first tip: Step 1 - Make Daily Task Lists.


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