How do you deal with the ever-increasing distractions at the workplace and in life?
Did you know that most result from the brain’s constant reach for the new and the next that often limit your concentration span?
A Microsoft attention span study in 2015 revealed that an average human being’s attention lasts no longer than eight seconds.
However, focus is like a muscle, and you can train it to improve and stay productive longer.
Here are nine practical strategies on how to train your brain to remain focused to increase productivity.
1. Avoid bringing the distractions into your workspace
Emails, social media notifications, calls, and texts as well background noise top the list of leading focus distractors. In some cases, you do not even know what an impact such innocent gestures can have on your productivity.
Do you often have this urge to reply to an email, reply a text or like a friend’s new post I time? Consider that as a chronic distraction.
Remember that you can channel all the time spent on these, often non-productive tasks, towards increasing your overall productivity. Nonetheless, the first step towards improving this productivity involves turning off notifications to all the distractions.
Consider locking the phone inside a desk drawer or leaving them in another room should they prove too tempting.
“I use 2 phones, 1 for personal, 1 for work. When I get to the office I turn off my personal phone to avoid any unnecessary distractions.” said Ian McClarty, President, PhoenixNap Global IT Solutions.
2. Take a short break before starting new task
There are different types of work environment breaks. You can take a break from a long task, after completion of a job or before beginning another. Additionally, remember that tedious tasks often birth distractions and procrastination. But you can resist giving in to either urge by taking frequent breaks every 15 or 30 minutes.
According to a psychological study by Illinois University, individuals that take short breaks after every 50 minutes report increased productivity than those that work straight hours. However, remember that these breaks should be appropriately utilized if they are to post meaningful impact on your focus.
You can try pacing up and down the stairs or do jumping backs. Such activities allow for deactivation and reactivation necessary for you to stay productive.
3. Try physical exercise program
Time immemorial, physical exercises have been used as a cure for numerous the mental problems including stress and demotivation. You too can harness its healing magic to improve your focus and boost your productivity.
Some of the most common activities that you should consider engaging in include Yoga, running, swimming or even balance training. These workouts help enhance creativity and concentration, elevate moods as well as improve memory and cognitive skills.
Typically, exercises impact on your emotional and physical well-being thus boosting your focus and creativity. Plus you don’t have to worry about the right practice time. You can hit the gym before stepping into the office, rejuvenate during lunch break or even steam off after work. You only have to remain consistent about whichever schedule you prefer.
4. Organize your job tasks and remain consistent
Different researchers also point out to disorganized work schedules and multi-tasking as principal enemies of productivity. They argue that multitasking kills effectiveness, based on the fact that you take an average 10 minutes to connect or reconnect to a task.
Cases involving technical projects like software development may take up even more time.
However, you can increase productivity and handle more tasks throughout the day if you stick to a plan. Take the first few minutes of getting into office to organize your work for the day. List all the tasks you seek to accomplish in a day and allocate each a definite timeframe.
Review your progress throughout the day and amend their achievements appropriately.
5. Stick to the two-minute rule
Are you familiar with the procrastination killer, 2-minute-rule? This calls for the practice of immediate action and making the most of the never-enough time. According to the two-minute rule, whenever you have a task at hand at hand that you can comfortably solve in or less than two minutes, do it immediately.
This not only helps keep procrastination at bay but the feeling of accomplishment it arouses keeps you motivated.
6. Control your stress levels
How do you feel, every time you step into the office? Are you motivated to keep coming or do you always feel agitated and irritable, especially when dealing with your colleagues?
The work environment forms one of the biggest stress triggers sets your productivity a mile. The fact that you can’t relate with those around you but feel forced to share an environment with them harbors your concentration and creativity.
Should you ever find yourself in such a situation, consider taking a step back and reassessing the situation. Strategize on how to deal with this stress by either talking about it with the colleagues or your superior. Note that until you deal with the problem, you cannot expect much improvement on the productivity scales.
7. Get enough sleep
Inadequate sleep can cause mood swings, depression, and paranoia, all of which hamper productivity and motivation.
When deprived of sleep either due to working night shifts or suffering from insomnia, you can expect to lose focus and feel continuously demotivated. You should, therefore, “Focus on long and uninterrupted sleep to maximize productivity. I suggest at least 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep”, according to Dr. Alex Roher.
You can improve quality of your sleep by creating regular sleep routine such as going to bed at the same time every day. Adjust your sleeping environment by minimizing distractors and stimulators like a light in the bedroom. Enjoy periodic day-time rejuvenation naps.
8. Fidget or listen to music
What if you could improve on focus and increase productivity by creating your own controlled distractions?
For instance, did you know that fidgeting frees up your mental energy thereby allowing you to improve your focus? During the next call or meeting, bring along something you can play with mindlessly as it enhances your listening skills.
Additionally, according to a study by the University of North Carolina, playing music or some other exciting tunes can help increase productivity.
Consider investing in noise-canceling headphones. However, this will only work for the songs you like. Plus you do not have to play vocal music, white noise like water sounds and soothing instrumentals do the trick.
9. Use Daily Self-affirmations
Did you think that self-affirmations only apply to boosting self-confidence?
No, you can still use them to increase productivity. In most cases, productivity killers often arise from negative talks and thoughts. You can use self-affirmation to change your mindset and encourage positivity.
Write out self-encouraging thoughts and read them aloud every time you feel like your confidence tripping.
Focus, motivation, and productivity go hand in hand. You can influence either and trigger the rest through seemingly simple and highly practical physical and psychological strategies.