How to increase concentration at work

Distractions at work can severely damage your productivity and work-life balance. Many people get more easily distracted in comparison to others. Staying focused at work can be a challenge for them, even when they are completely committed to it. Slacking off at work is detrimental in more ways than one. Everything seems to fall apart.

Here are some ways on how to increase concentration at work

Note it down

Check your planner in specific intervals or after each task that you complete. Having a fixed plan will really save your time. When you don’t need to waste time figuring out what to do, your focus is completely on the task. Multi-tasking is not a real thing and human brain is not capable of it. (mentally) Using a weekly planner or personal data assistant (PDA) for this will be helpful.

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Tune out environmental distractions

  • Use a white noise machine or instrumental music to will help you focus. Using headphones or being ‘wired in’ goes a long way in being productive. But be careful not to listen to ‘exciting’ music as that can backfire and take away your concentration instead.
  • Fix your workspace. Clear your table of clutter. Working on an organised space will help you focus. Keep your computer/laptop uncluttered and do not open multiple unnecessary tabs. Less digital clutter will help you stay focused.
  • Keep your phone on ‘Work’ profile in order to tune out social media channels, instant messaging, app notifications, etc…

Make time for exercise and meditation

It is scientifically proven that working out and staying active can increase your productivity and concentration by 23%. Regular exercise keeps mental stresses at bay and is a clear prevention against depression, anxiety and lethargy. It increases overall blood flow to the brain and will make your more active and alert.

If you can’t focus and work, take a breather. Learn meditative breathing techniques to keep calm and focused. This could be yoga (alternative nostril breathing) and controlling your cortisol levels.

Take a break every 50 mins and take a walk around the office, have a glass of water and relax for 5 minutes.

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Prioritise your tasks

Finish the important and dynamic tasks first. You will give your best to what’s important and by the time you’re done with them, you can just go ahead and finish the smaller tasks with a free mind. Set up a time management matrix with quadrants as follows:

  • Quadrant 1 includes those tasks which are urgent and important. They require immediate action. This could be an immediate meeting, an urgent email, crisis or emergencies you cannot see coming, but could have been avoided if you had worked on them in the past.
  • Quadrant 2 includes those tasks which are extremely important and goal oriented. For example, creating a work plan and following it, improvements you need to work on, studying for that exam next month. Completing these tasks will give you a head start and avoid tasks in Quadrant 2. This is the quadrant where you need to put most of your time to be effective.
  • Quadrant 3 includes tasks which are urgent but not important. The tasks which interrupt you while you’re busy such as an unofficial call, an email you can ignore, a notification which does nothing for you, come under this quadrant. Avoid these tasks by working on quadrant 2.
  • Quadrant 4 includes all those tasks which are time wasters. They are not productive to your goal and have no work or life significance. This includes aimlessly scrolling through social media channels, watching tv just switching channels, unnecessary phone calls. Avoid these tasks as much as possible.                

Quadrants

Most important: Evaluate your tasks: If something took extra time, try to figure out a reason for it. If it was done early, jot down those pointers too as to why.

There are different techniques which work for different people. Learn from your own feedback everyday.

Another important aspect is figuring out what environmental distractions affect you the most. There might be some areas which you might not know exist. Start tracking your time so as to better understand the culprits. Use a pomodoro timer or time tracking software for this. Happy working!

 

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Getting First Things Done
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How to manage your time so that you make real progress towards what really matters.