Phones ringing, screens flickering, messages coming in 24/7. Family commitments, work obligations, “me” time and more. Is it any wonder that many of us find it challenging to maintain our focus?
Gone are the days when getting something fast meant sending it by messenger, when 5PM meant quitting time and no one could interrupt your personal time. Nope, not anymore! We live in a highly frenetic time and you have to develop a method that enables you to maintain your focus, stay centered and get things done!
Here are some of the things that allow me to maintain focus. Perhaps they could work for you as well.
- Schedule time to “power down,” when you disengage from technology and human interruptions and concentrate on the task at hand.
The more plugged in we are, the easier it is to let distractions impact our thinking and flow of work. A sensible alternative to the commotion in our brains caused by endless texts, calls and emails is to simply shut them off for designated hours in the day. You’ll be amazed at the clarity that comes through when you’re not getting interrupted every minute or two with a beep, ping or chirp.
- Determine when you are at your best and can focus most clearly, and schedule your work accordingly.
You should schedule your most demanding or creative work for the hours when you have the greatest clarity and focus. Are you an early bird? If so, jump-start your day and get working when many others are sleeping. The same holds true if you’re a night owl and find that you get your best work done after midnight. Don’t let anyone else dictate when you should be doing your most challenging work. Listen to your own internal clock, and you’ll find that your focus comes more naturally at these points in time.
- Don’t kid yourself: multi-tasking encourages a loss of focus.
You may need to re-train your mind to concentrate (focus) on one thing at a time. In today’s highly cluttered world, we are often doing two, three and sometimes four things at the same time. When your trend of thought gets interrupted, mistakes happen, the quality of work and decision-making declines, and ultimately we’re no longer able to concentrate on pretty much anything at all. Make it a habit to focus on one activity at a time even if just for five or ten minutes.
- Stay organized.
Having an organized desk and workspace helps you to stay focused on the tasks at hand. It’s easy to get distracted when there are piles of paper on the desk and floor and post-it notes affixed to every surface. Make it a point to organize your work (paper and digital) and you will find that you have greater clarity and focus.
- Make time for distractions.
Regardless of how diligent you are, distractions and interruptions are a fact of life. The best way to make certain these distractions and interruptions don’t cause undue stress is to build in time to accommodate the internal and external distractions that come your way. Ten minutes to peruse Facebook? Go for it, just make certain that you have the discipline to shut it down. People asking for your time? Rather than let interruptions come at you throughout the day, try to schedule time for informal conversations with colleagues. Of course, even if you carefully try to “plan” this time, the unexpected will happen so make certain that each day has some cushion to absorb the unexpected.
Maintaining focus can be a challenge however the upside is being able to produce higher quality work and perhaps even getting to go home at a reasonable hour. Now that’s an idea worth pursuing!
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white.