The pattern goes like this. You’re sitting at work with a string of unanswered emails, a project that keeps getting kicked back no matter how many times you’ve met with your team, and a daunting number of tasks to complete for the day. So you pick up your phone and start scrolling to have temporary relief from the anxiety of the to-do list. And while becoming more focused can feel like a daunting task, there are some tools you can use to make it a little bit easier.
Ditch the Phone
Some of our biggest distractors come from our phones, especially because they house our schedules, texts, emails, games, pictures and the list goes on and on. One method for focusing is to put your phone away in a drawer or backpack and only allow yourself to check it during the scheduled breaks. Checking the phone is a way to shift focus from what is in front of you and cause you to be thinking about multiple things at once like weekend plans, world news, or next week’s deadline. This makes it even harder to think about the immediate tasks on your computer screen.
Tackle the Hardest Tasks First
When you don’t want to be at work and the amount of to-do’s is overwhelming, it’s tempting to procrastinate and push off the biggest and hardest tasks for later in the day. But the best tactic is to target your biggest tasks for the day first when your mind is rested from the previous night and you’re not starting a big project as you’re already feeling exhausted from a long work day.
Take Scheduled Work Breaks
The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francis Cirillo in the 1980’s and it is a technique for maximizing your focus. To practice this technique, the key is to decide the task or project you will be working on, break down your work in to 25 minute segments, and then have a 5 minute break in between the sets of work. There are several apps that can help you keep track of your work and break schedule like FocusBooster, Toggl, and FocusKeeper. By taking small breaks you will be giving your mind a chance to recharge and rest so you’re able to focus better in the next 25 minute segment.
Set Attainable Goals For the Day
Start your day with a realistic list of things that you think you can accomplish based on your typical work schedule and productivity level. The important part here is to be realistic since having too many goals and being able too ambitious could leave you feeling that you didn’t hit the mark for that day. If on the other hand, your goals for the day are realistic, seeing them crossed off can leave you with a sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction.
Be Kind to Yourself
Many of us have grueling work schedules and stressful days, with the additional expectation of finishing projects and emails late into the night. With these kinds of schedules it can be tough to sit for long hours and constantly focus on work. So if you do find that it takes you some time, be kind to yourself and know that any small steps you can take towards focusing more at work are a step in the right direction.
If you or someone you know is struggling with with being able to focus or having motivation at work and would like some extra support, if could be helpful to begin seeing a counselor. Contact us online or call 312-578-9990 to make an appointment with one of our skilled counselors today.