5 Tips for Staying Focused At Work (Work from home & office)
Updated: Oct 12, 2021
Focusing is difficult. Especially when you're surrounded by stimuli everywhere but, there are 10 ways you can stay focused and get more work done. Are you struggling to focus at work? Whether that's working from home like me, or at an office, there are always distractions. And let's face it, some work is boring.
If you're working from home, you've probably encountered this problem more frequently now. But even if you're still at work, you've likely hit that point at which you just lose focus and can't seem to get back on track.
How to stay focused and productive at work: it's a task that seems impossible some days.
Learning to focus better can help you in life, not only with work, but studying, hobbies, reading, and pretty much everything. The truth is that if you focus, you can get more done quicker, and you have more free time. We all want free time!!
Today, I'm sharing 5 helpful tips to stay focus that you can implement now! You'll learn how to stay focused at work during covid times. There's extra stress to focus and be productive with this ongoing pandemic.
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Now, let's get on with the tips. These aren't you're average cliche tips like "find a quiet spot" because if you have a busy household, you just can't find that spot sometimes.
1. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique has helped me most over the years. I've written another blog post about being more productive, where I share many tips, including the Pomodoro technique. If you're unfamiliar with it, it's a time-blocking technique that makes you focus on tasks for a short period of time. If the brain focuses on work for 25 minutes, you can get more done than if you continuously work on something for hours and burn out.
To use the Pomodoro technique, here's what to do:
Set a timer for 25 minutes and work on your tasks.
Stop and take a 5-minute break.
Set the timer and work for another 25 minutes.
Do this 4 times.
After the 4th time, you can take a well-deserved 30 minute break.
Those mini 5-minute breaks help you stay focused and concentrate while making your work more efficient.
The Pomodoro technique helps you fight what's called "cognitive boredom" because it breaks the cycle of concentrating too much on a task. When you're doing the same thing for a long time, you get bored and become LESS productive.
2. Take short coffee or tea breaks
There's nothing like a good cup of coffee to make you feel more energized. It could just be a placebo effect, but there's something about having coffee and working that just goes well together.
Studies show that having small amounts of caffeine during the workday helps you focus. It might be that coffee keeps your body and mind awake and alert. But, if you don't like coffee, you can have some black or green tea and still help yourself stay focused.
What type of coffee do you like? Don't feel guilty about "spoiling yourself" with a good quality roast. Add whipped cream, too, because you're working, and you deserve it!
The secret to staying focused versus getting antsy and anxious is to consume coffee in moderation. Small quantities are better than having large cups of coffee. Too much coffee will make you crash mid-day, and then you'll reduce your productivity.
Another thing to consider is that when you make the coffee and take the time to drink, it is a bit of a break and helps the brain snap out of work-related stress.
3. Work mindfully
One of the most common problems people face when trying to focus for extended periods of time is distracted thinking.
What I mean by this is that the mind starts to wander and think about random and often unrelated things that can trigger stress, anxiety, and a general sense of lack of concentration. The way to combat distractions is to be more mindful. I know mindfulness is a trendy concept that keeps getting thrown around in all kinds of blog posts. But, being mindful is actually very important and helpful.
Being mindful is about being able to think and live in the moment. It's about being aware of the moment, and it helps you stay focused on the task at hand.
So, how can you become more mindful?
Start noticing when your mind starts to drift off. That's the moment you're losing focus. The biggest skill you can learn when it comes to this mindfulness is to IDENTIFY the moment when you lose concentration. You can train your brain to pick up these slip-ups and refocus.
To become more mindful, I recommend meditation and breathwork.
When you're working on a task, stop and take about 10 long deep breaths and try to clear your mind of all thoughts. Focusing on deep breathing will help you relax, and you can start to focus on work again.
It's okay to feel discouraged if this doesn't work the first few times. Deep breathing and breathwork take practice. So does meditation.
One trick is to get a meditation table-top fountain. It's a small water fountain that will help you relax because watching water trickle down is very relaxing, trust me. It's one of those little things that can improve your mood!
4. Use to-do lists
This may seem a bit obvious but making lists and checking them off is a great way to stay focused and get things done promptly. Lists also help you stay on track, thus making you feel less stressed about time and deadlines.
Since I'm a freelance writer, I need to make lists to keep up with what articles I need to write, which ones need editing and which are ready for publication. I personally use Trello, which is a collaboration tool with boards where you create all kinds of boards like "to do," "done," "working on". You collaborate with others, and it keeps everything organized.
Whether on paper or your laptop or phone, good old to-do lists can help you stay focused. Look at each task on the list and then focus on one at a time. As soon as you finish it, cross it off the list.
Many studies reveal that the world's most successful people make to-do lists and plan ahead.
The best way to use to-do lists is to put the most urgent tasks at the top. Have the top 3 most important or time-sensitive tasks at the top. Get the hardest tasks out of the way first and trust me, you'll feel less stressed and overall more productive.
I recommend tear-off to-do list sheets, which you can create daily and then throw out at the end of the day. You can use them for work, chores, hobbies, studies, etc.
5. Limit your focus
Multi-tasking is great and all, but it can mess up your focus. The best way to stay concentrated is to limit your focus to 1 task at a time. When you have 10 tabs open, the brain is too overwhelmed and you can lose focus instantly. Don't switch from one task to the other, make sure you finish the first one.
Keep your attention on one task and work on finishing that one entirely before doing something else or turning your attention to others. When you turn all your attention to something, you're doing it faster and more efficiently.
Have you ever started replying to several emails at the same time, while also checking your phone at the same time? It gets so overwhelming, you end up sending out poorly written emails. Focus on one only. Then get it done. Check it off the list. You'll feel better!
I hope with these tips, you'll learn how to eliminate distractions and stay focused at work.
Helpful stay focused at work quotes
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” — Socrates
“Stay on track, don't look back. You have come too far not to finish what you started. You can improve, you can change, you can progress, you can make a difference. You can do it, if you stay on track.” - Germany Kent
"What I always say is, ‘Do every job you’re in like you’re going to do it for the rest of your life, and demonstrate that ownership of it.’” - Mary Barra
“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.” - Warren Buffett
“Be passionate and bold. Always keep learning. You stop doing useful things if you don’t learn. So the last part to me is the key, especially if you have had some initial success. It becomes even more critical that you have the learning ‘bit’ always switched on.” - Satya Nadella