It’s a digital world out there, and we are all connected to it with our multiple devices. While it is a good thing, these very same devices of convenience are also weapons of mass distractions. An email here, a social media ping there, a call, a text, a colleague who stops by for a chat – personal task management gets thrown out the window with every new interruption and distraction.
It is difficult to work this way, and studies have shown that most professionals manage to get barely 15-20 minutes of work before some form of interruption rears its head. The victim is usually personal productivity.
Are you one of those who struggle to stay focused at work? We’ve put together some tips for you to help you cope better and come up with a plan for getting more work done:
Step 1: Plan your day
Don’t just jump into the first task that gets your attention. Make a plan. This includes:
- Create to-do list – Include personal as well as professional tasks in it. Making an effective to-do list is the difference between working and working productively.
- Once you have your tasks for the day outlined, prioritise as per criticality and urgency.
- Dedicate fixed time slots for your work.
- Account for collaborative activities and tasks like checking mails, etc.
- Get comfortable. Invest in an ergonomic chair and a good work table. When your body is fatigued, the mind will wander. You will lose focus and look for reasons to get up.
Step 2: Make the execution count
It’s one thing having a plan. Be diligent about following it to achieve your targets for the day.
- Stick to the schedule at all costs. You will save a lot of time and prevent decision fatigue.
- Absolutely avoid multitasking – It is expensive and dangerous too. Harvard Business Review notes that multi-tasking decreases your productivity by 40% and can also lower your IQ by 10 points.
- Avoid digital distractions: Close all email apps, social networking sites, and other such distractions. If need be, switch off your mobile phone as well. If you can’t do that, use an online time tracking system to manage your online time better.
- Prevent self-distraction: Put on headphones and listen to some music. This will cut out outside noises and help you focus better on the task at hand.
- Prevent peer distraction: Let your colleagues and peers know when you would be working, and ask them to not disturb you.
Step 3: Build healthy habits
Remember, ‘all work and no play’? That’s what happens when you lose focus, and then have to get everything done at the last minute. Build healthy work-life balance habits.
- Eat healthy food and drink enough water. Binge eating junk food or cafeteria food can upset the body and the mind too. Carry healthy snacks and fruits.
- Allot break times. Get up, walk around, look out of the window – taking a break refreshes and renews your body and mind.
- Enjoy your work. Might sound obvious, but to be really able to focus on your work, you need to believe that it is something that you want to do and you will enjoy doing it.
- Have fun. Make time for your family and friends. Cultivate a hobby. When you step away from work and do something else, you will come back to work with renewed enthusiasm. Who said you can’t do both, work and have fun, effectively?
- Practice meditation for at least half an hour every day.
Step 4: Track and improve
Follow the regimen we’ve outlined and you will understand how you work.
- A=analyse: Observe your work patterns and you will soon realise your productive hours.
- Reward yourself: Treat yourself after you have stayed focused for a set period of time and have accomplished the designated task.
PS: Sapience Buddy is a time-tracking program that will keep track of your activities and time on the computer – emails, chat, social media, calls, meetings, and core activities. At the end of the month you can go through the work pattern analysis report and know your most productive hours, work patterns and time wasters. It’s a great way to improve productivity and make the most of your work hours.
To learn more about our personal productivity and time management software, visit www.sapience.net