There are many different reasons why people fail to be as productive as they’d like during the course of the workday, or just over the course of life in general. Some of these include chronic fatigue, depression, a lack of clear direction or a sense of what to do next, and disinterest in the work itself.
Perhaps one of the greatest reasons for productivity issues, however, is an inability to focus, and a natural inclination to being easily distracted.
As focus is one of the most essential things for overall success in any field, this isn’t good. For people who are involved in serious work, such as managing website application development companies, it can be utterly catastrophic.
Here are a few simple tips you can begin implementing now, to boost your focus during the workday.
Cut out the stimulants
This tip is likely to go down poorly with many — if not most — people. The world is, by and large, hooked to caffeine and similar stimulants. Many people will swear that their morning cup of coffee is essential to their continued survival, never mind ability to work, and studies have demonstrated certain striking benefits to drinking coffee — including potential antidepressant qualities.
On the other side of the coin, however, stimulants such as caffeine (affiliate link) are known to cause serious inability to focus in many people, as the mind feverishly jumps around from one topic to another seemingly at random.
If you want more focus in the workplace, you should seriously consider cutting out the stimulants. To maintain the benefits of coffee — including some of the mood-boosting benefits — switching to a rich decaf is likely a much better option than quitting altogether.
Listen to some ambient music or nature sounds while working
Listening to ambient sound seems to help “distract” or lull parts of the mind into a regular rhythm in a way that benefits focus and productivity.
There’s a certain sweet-spot for focus, where you’re feeling pretty calm on the whole, are able to dedicate your attention to the task at hand but aren’t actively being distracted by anything. At least not to the extent that such a distraction could cause you to suffer seriously in terms of productivity.
Music with vocals, or powerful, dramatic music, are likely to distract you from your work. Rhythmic nature sounds and calm ambient music, on the other hand, can serve to lull you into a comfortable state of “Zen” focus.
Stay well fed
Sometimes, distraction and inability to focus is just driven by good old-fashioned hunger. For people with blood sugar issues, particularly, eating at irregular intervals, not eating enough, or missing meals can put a serious dent in their ability to focus on their work and proceed through the day productively.
Even if you think this isn’t an issue for you, experiment a bit. Try eating a bigger breakfast before getting started on your work, and then keep some healthy and convenient snacks at hand.
Avoid simple sugars and highly processed foods, and stick to whole, natural foods. Despite the recent popularity of low-carb diets — which may well have some striking health benefits for some people in some situations — carbohydrates are known to have a calming, sedative effect.
A meal with a fair amount of low-GI carbs is likely to aid your focus more than one without.
Keep a notebook and pen with you, and write down any distractions that come to mind
A big part of the issue with poor focus is that we tend to “chase” and “act on” our distractions without taking the time to recognise, address, and deal with the sequence of events consciously.
Mindfulness meditation is so popular, in part, because it breaks this cycle of automatic reactivity and gets people used to noticing and acknowledging their thoughts and impulses from an impartial observer’s viewpoint, rather than being blindly subject to them.
In a similar way, keeping a notepad and pen with you while you work, and then jotting down any distraction that comes to mind, can be a remarkably powerful way of creating a bit of mental space and enabling yourself to consciously reject the distraction and continue working.
The distractions you note down could be anything that would take you away from your work. You could write down things such as; “Google best flavour of ice cream”, “check Facebook”, “look at funny pictures of cats”, etc.
Once you’re on a scheduled break from your work, or have reached the end of the workday, you can review your notebook and see if any of those distractions still feel worth following up on. You may be surprised to notice that most of them have lost their allure.