How to Maintain Your Focus During Work

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Staying focused is easier said than done, potential distractions surround us, and the atmosphere of distraction can be made worse by everyday life, especially if you’re working from home.

It’s no good just telling yourself to stay focused on a task, especially a mundane one, we have to train our brains to prioritise. The good news? Several techniques can help you focus on the job in front of you. Read on to discover how.

Stop The Distractions

It’s so easy to get distracted, there are always lots of reasons to procrastinate or put off what you’re supposed to be doing and while you can’t get rid of everything you can limit your chances of being interrupted. 

Make things easier for yourself by:

  • Working in a quiet space
  • Turning off the notifications on your phone
  • Putting your phone on silent mode 
  • Closing your office or workroom door
  • Putting a do not disturb notice on your desk.
  • Closing all the non-essential programs on your computer
  • Use a pair of noise cancelling headphones

Control Your Social Media

Suppose you don’t turn off your notifications. In that case, you will continuously be bothered by your social media pals telling you that they have just eaten a delicious cooked breakfast, ran 5k or bought a new sports car, good for them, but these distractions must wait until you’ve conquered your inbox.

Consider using a social media blocker if your willpower is in short supply. Google Chrome offers an app called WorkMode and Stayfocusd, and these are free extensions to the Google Chrome web browser. There’s also a website and app blocker called Freedom.  

Freedom’s most significant advantage is the ability to block across a wide variety of devices including tablets, phones and laptops. Users can sync their blocks across their Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices, all this means no more funny cat videos in the middle of a crucial meeting with clients.

Drink Coffee

Drinking coffee has a positive impact on your ability to focus, according to the NHS website drinking three to four cups of coffee a day will help you focus and can help you live longer. The claim seems unlikely but according to a study carried out on behalf of the NHS by Edinburgh University stated that “The links between high coffee consumption and beneficial outcomes were strongest for liver disease and cancer, gout, heart attack and leukaemia”.

However, as with everything, there is a downside – the key to taking advantage of caffeine’s focus-enhancing properties is to consume no more than four cups a day. If you drink too much of it, you could feel anxious or agitated, which reduces your ability to stay focused. Everything in moderation, folks!

Stimulate Your Brain with Essential Oils 

Your brain is a muscle just like the muscle in your leg – okay not entirely, but you can train your brain to respond to specific stimulants or situations. For example, If you vaporise peppermint oil in your office every day, eventually the brain will associate the smell with productivity, and you will notice improved productivity.

To back this theory up studies have been developed by the National Library of Medicine show that high-quality essential oils can decrease fatigue and increase focus; the recommended oils are as follows:

  • Peppermint essential oil
  • Sweet orange essential oil
  • Spearmint essential oil
  • Rosemary essential oil
  • Lemon essential oil

Practice the Pomodoro Technique

Never heard of the Pomodoro Technique? Neither had we until now; It’s prevalent in schools and colleges as the technique helps students to study.

There are lot’s of informative videos on YouTube, but here is a quick lesson on how it works:

  • Set your timer for 25 minutes and start working.
  • When the alarm sounds, take a 5-minute break.
  • Then, set the timer once more and go back to work.
  • Once you’ve done four rounds of this, take a more extended break, approximately 20 to 30 minutes, then start again.

Eat for Full Focus

To keep your brain focused, you must keep your energy levels up, and it’s impossible to stay on an even keel if you’re hungry. Try to eat a balanced diet of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats to stay fueled. 

If at all possible, eat, breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time every day and remember to stay hydrated. Athlete’s know if you’re dehydrated you lose focus, 10% dehydration leads to 50% lack of productivity. So concentrate on drinking your H2O.

Sleep Well

It’s no secret that the majority of Brits lack in the sleep department. While a couple of nights of minimal sleep is okay, not getting enough sleep most nights of the week can negatively impact both your short and long-term memory, as well as your ability to concentrate.

A body called sleepcouncil.org.uk recommended the amount of sleep for adults aged 18 to 60 years old is six or more hours a night. Older adults may not need as much sleep, especially if they are not working.

Your best chance of getting a great night’s sleep is to follow these guidelines.

  • Avoid caffeinated beverages after 4 pm.
  • Switch off all devices two hours before bedtime – the blue light will keep you awake.
  • Take time to wind down. 
  • Try reading a book and taking a warm bath – listen to some soothing music.
  • Keep your bedroom calm and quiet. According to the Sleep Council, an ideal temperature is between 60 and 67°F (15.6 and 19.4°C).

Be Mindful

By taking note of the above points, you can be mindful and recognise when your attention starts to drift and bring your focus back to where it needs to be. Train your brain to be more cognizant by practising breathing techniques, meditation, and mindful movements, such as yoga or tai chi.

Use You to-do list Properly 

Some people say to-do lists are stressful, but research carried out by mindtools.com says to-do lists are an effective way to stay on top of tasks and prioritise what is essential on any given day.

Focus on similar tasks

Despite what you may think, multitasking is not more effective or efficient, especially when you’re struggling with staying focused. The American Psychological Association (apa.org) reports that multitasking may reduce productivity by as much as 40 per-cent

Take Away

Your take away from everything we have discovered is that to stay focused, you must get a good night’s sleep, eat well and drink lots of water. Exercise in a mindful way, turn off your notifications and train your brain to recognise when it needs to concentrate. Do all those things, and you will speed through your to-do list in no time at all.