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How to focus at work

By Jostle

5 min read

How to focus at work
Illustration by Kevin Yu

Picture being in a busy marketplace, with vendors clamoring for your attention and noise everywhere. Our daily battle to focus at work is similar, where different distractions compete for our mental energy.

Why does achieving workplace focus matter? Well, highly engaged workplaces have been found to experience a 41% lower employee turnover rate.

The connection is clear: keeping employees engaged and maintaining their focus are two sides of the same coin. Engaged employees flourish in environments where productivity thrives, leading to job satisfaction and overall success.

Understanding its significance, let's explore some practical ways to enhance your focus at work and productivity on the job. Here, you'll find actionable strategies that are both efficient and approachable, enabling you to seamlessly integrate these practices into your work routine.

1. Eliminate distractions

Think about the last time you sat down to work. Was your phone buzzing with notifications? Were you constantly switching between tasks?

Distractions like these fragment our attention and hinder productivity. In fact, 79% of workers admit to feeling unfocused from being distracted. 

To regain control, it's a good start to identify common interruptions in your workspace. Office chatter, frequent meetings, and the constant ping of instant messaging apps can disrupt deep concentration.

Here are a few tips to prevent distractions and help you focus at work:

  • Manage notifications: Turn off non-essential email and app notifications.
  • Limit social media: Set intervals for checking social media and use website blockers.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones: Block out background noise for deep concentration.
  • Smart collaboration: Engage in purposeful interactions, minimizing interruptions.

Recognizing and managing these distractions is key to maintaining a productive workday.

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2. Prioritize tasks

Imagine your to-do list as a buffet spread - tempting, but you can't possibly eat everything at once. Multitasking by now has been known as a misconception, causing diluted focus and leading to burnout.

To counter this, master the art of task prioritization. Divide your tasks into categories like urgent, important, and non-urgent. Focus on high-priority tasks first and work your way down the list. This targeted approach keeps you on track and boosts your sense of accomplishment.

3. Take breaks

Believe it or not, productivity thrives when you give your brain a breather. Pushing yourself for hours on end leads to diminishing returns. Taking regular breaks allows your mind to recharge and refocus.

So, step away from your desk, stretch, or take a short walk. Your brain will thank you, and you'll return to your tasks with renewed energy.

4. Use time management techniques

Ever thought about your company's "time culture"? According to our People at Work podcast interview with Julie Morgenstern, productivity expert and bestselling author, each company has an unconscious relationship with time.

Recognizing your time culture unveils avenues for improvement and heightened productivity. Effective time management involves setting specific time blocks for tasks, employing techniques, and using digital tools to schedule and track tasks.

Here are some common time management techniques worth considering:

  • Pomodoro technique: Think of this technique as a sprint, not a marathon. Set a timer for 25 minutes and commit to working solely on a single task until the timer rings. Afterward, reward yourself with a 5-minute break. Focused work, followed by a short break, can boost your concentration.
  • Time blocking: Allocate specific time slots for different tasks, appointments, and breaks. This deliberate structuring of your day ensures that each moment serves a purpose, minimizing the chance of aimless drifting.
  • Task chunking:  View time as a collection of blocks, each representing a task. Task chunking groups similar tasks and handles them during dedicated time blocks, reducing the mental strain of switching between activities.
  • The power of no: Time, in essence, is limited currency. Politely declining non-essential requests or delegating tasks can free up time for what truly matters. Embrace the art of saying no when a task doesn't align with your priorities.

Regardless of the time management strategy you choose, these help you navigate your workday with purpose, making time an ally and not the enemy.

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5. Stay organized

Research has shown that a cluttered space can negatively affect our stress and anxiety levels, as well as our ability to focus, eat, and sleep. This goes the same for workspaces. 

Embrace the benefits of staying organized by decluttering your physical and digital spaces. Use folders, labels, and project management tools to keep everything in its rightful place. A clean environment fosters a clear mind.

6. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness isn't just for meditation retreats. This has a place in the workplace, too.

Being present in the moment and fully engaged with your tasks prevents your mind from wandering. To enhance focus at work, try these mindfulness techniques:

  • Morning mindful ritual: Begin your day with a few moments of meditation. Focus on your breath, set intentions for the day, and create a mental space of calm before diving into work.
  • Mindful transitions: When transitioning between tasks or meetings, take a few moments to settle your mind. This simple pause helps you reset and enter the next task with enhanced focus.
  • Breathing anchors: When distractions arise, use your breath as an anchor. Focus on a few deep breaths to recenter and reestablish your focus.
  • Reflect on gratitude: Before wrapping up your workday, take a moment to reflect on the accomplishments of the day. Cultivate gratitude for what you've achieved, fostering a positive mindset that carries over into the next day.

Mindfulness transforms the workplace into a sanctuary of focus and clarity. On the road to heightened productivity, mindfulness stands steadfast as your reliable companion.

BONUS: Be able to access resources to get work done

Have you ever been distracted by the need to locate files, identify the right contact, or gather information? A streamlined process is key to maintaining focus.

Utilizing an employee success platform that centralizes resources and communication can significantly reduce mental clutter. Easy access to information ensures your energy is spent on tasks, not on finding them.

Wrapping Up

During a hectic day, maintaining focus at work is an invaluable skill that transforms scattered efforts into meaningful achievements. As you integrate these practices into your routine, watch your productivity soar and your sense of accomplishment grow.

Just like piecing together a complex puzzle, each element of focus adds to the bigger picture of your professional success.


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