4 Ways to Be More Productive
Between the 25 internet tabs, 3 Word docs, Teams chat, Slack channel, Facebook feed, text messages, TikTok notifications, our amazing but overly chatty coworker, and the buzzing of the water cooler down the hall, we experience a little…ok a lot of noise throughout our days. We start each day with our set amount of willpower, and as the minutes pass by, we start expending that willpower. With every tick of the clock it becomes harder and harder to say "no" to the buzz of the Snapchat notification, the ping of the Facebook meme, or the temptation to ask what your coworker is laughing so loudly at. And productivity dwindles. In an effort to help us regain power over our focus and be more productive, here are a few tips and tricks on how to stay focused and finish the task at hand.
1) Close the windows--on the internet!
How many browser tabs do you have open right now? How many are you actively using? How many do you need? Multiple open tabs on your web browser are hard to juggle and can be distracting--same goes for open programs on your computer. Are you really using Word and Excel and Twitter and Photoshop and your email? The next task will still be there when you are done with the task you are on now. It is easy to just hop on another tab, see where you were in another task, start working, and next thing you know an hour has passed, and you now have two partially complete tasks.
2) Gimme a break
Schedule breaks to at least get up and walk around the room or do some stretches. Aim for 5-10 minutes once an hour--set a timer if it helps. How can I focus if I'm not at my desk, you ask? Taking a step away can actually improve long-term focus. Our brains can only focus for 60 to 90 minutes at max, and that's in the morning when our willpower is greater! Focus is harder by afternoon! So, give yourself a break! Taking a break prevents us from staring at something so long that our eyes cross. A study at Stanford showed that in those who are working on a task that requires creativity and imagination, walking led to more creative thoughts than sitting. Your brain still works, sometimes even better when you aren’t focusing on the task you are currently working on.
3) Finish up
If possible, fully complete tasks before embarking on another one. Avoid flitting back and forth from task to task, that way you're fully focused on what you're doing at any given moment without residual overflow from other incomplete tasks. When you finish a task, it gives yourself a sense of achievement. It is okay to highlight these achievements and give yourself positive affirmations for finishing a task be it big or small.
4) Find out: Why can't you focus?
Is it because you don't want to? Because what you're doing is crummy or you don't know how to do it? Are you shutting down or getting distracted because what you're supposed to do is too much--the project is too big and you don't know where to start? If that's the case, try breaking down the work-maybe even dividing it between a couple people if possible. If you don't know how, ask for help. And if you don't like it, remember Mark Twain’s concept of ‘eat the frog’. “If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.” This mean to just get it done now because the sooner it will be out of your hair and off your hands.
So there you have it. Four ways to help you focus and break through all of the noise. How about you? How do you stay focused? Leave us a comment or let us know on social media!