In this day and age of productivity killers like smartphones, distracting websites, and endless water break chit-chats, it is hard to keep your eyes on the prize and maintain focus. While giving yourself a break from the daily grind may be good, prolonged distraction can inadvertently pull down your performance. With distractions attacking us from all sides, how can we keep our focus and maintain our concentration to what needs to be done? Here are five ways to kill productivity blockers and keep your focus where it should be.
Keep your working station distraction free
Your workstation can define the way you handle your work; this includes both the physical workstation like your desk or office cubicle and your virtual one, including the computer’s desktop and other applications. If you want to streamline your working process and weed out snags along the way, you need to have a clutter-free mise-en-place.
For starters, you can make your workstation more organized; remove items that can easily take your attention away from work. Extend the same gesture to your computer as well: uninstall games and other unnecessary programs that can cause you to stray away from your work. The cleaner your working area is, the better you can concentrate on your tasks at hand.
Create a to-do list with priority status
Having a handy to-do list of your daily activities is like making an itinerary for your trip—it will make your work more organized, aerodynamic, and easier to track. While having a list of activities you need to finish is good, you also need to know how to assign priorities so you can efficiently finish all those tasks.
One common mistake when making a to-do list is treating it like a grocery checklist; create a list of your tasks based on their level of priority. This means putting objectives that have the highest priority order on top while the others go to the back burner. By allocating priority status to your tasks, you can focus on harder and more important activities and accomplish them as soon as possible.
Break down big tasks into smaller objectives
When you’re faced with a big task, you tend to be threatened because it seems to be insurmountable. You know what happens next? You lose your head trying to figure out how to solve it and you wander off, until you realize that you’ve strayed far away from your task and you got lost in the abyss of productivity killers like Facebook and Twitter.
You’ve probably heard of this timeless maxim: you eat an elephant one bite at a time. Instead of looking at the big picture, try to break down your big tasks into smaller ones and accomplish them one by one. By doing this, you are making yourself more focused on smaller tasks that are interlinked. Before you notice it, you’ve finished your big project by simply dividing your main goal.
Create daily rituals
Having a fixed set of things to do is something that can help you organize your day; fifteen minutes of coffee break, an hour of lunch, twenty minutes of nap—having these fixed activities within your day will help you move in a fluid yet directional manner. By creating daily rituals, you work under a pretty good organization and gives you less room for deviation, including distractions.
To set up a daily ritual, you need to work on something that goes beyond your nine-to-five working hours; rituals have start from the day you wake up to the moment you sleep. Once you’ve established a good pattern in your life, you don’t have to worry about losing focus because the habits have already been ingrained in your life. However, don’t forget to add breaks in your ritual too, as they are important in keeping your head in place.
Have sufficient yet timed breaks
Everyone knows that all work and no play can make your mind go away, and it is true. While taking a break from your work when the going gets tough or the challenge becomes insurmountable is good, you need to draw the line between healthy and unhealthy breaks.
When you want to take a break from your current task, make sure you time it to avoid going overboard. However, instead of browsing productivity-killing websites or just goofing around, you might as well do something to help you recover. For instance, taking a power nap can increase your mental alertness or taking a snack break will give you enough energy to last for a while. Be picky when it comes to choosing your breaktime activities.
Distractions are everywhere, but that doesn’t mean you have to give in to the temptation. While a lot of shiny things exist to take your attention away from your important tasks, you can still make improvements that will help you keep your head in the game.