Stuck in an office all day, and noticing that you have started losing your focus? Here are seven ways to limit unproductivity while at work, so that you can focus and be more efficient.
Track and Limit Time Spent on Specific Tasks
If you’re reading this article, chances are that you are a human and not a robot, in which case you have a limited attention span. For most people, that lasts for around 20 – 25 minutes at best, after which your focus degrades rapidly. It’s generally unfeasible to take short breaks that often, but it is helpful to not focus on any one task for too long – just as cramming for a test or exam is of little benefit (as opposed to studying over the course of time, allowing yourself to take in information), so too is trying to intensely focus on one task for an extended period. It just won’t happen. A much better strategy is to come up with a list of tasks which you need to focus on, pick one and focus on it for 25 minutes, take a five minute break, and then move on to the next task. It’ll make things flow much more smoothly.
As we’ve just said, you can’t focus on anything for too long before your attention just sort of vanishes. And if you’re stuck in an office building all day without ever stepping out, it doesn’t do much for your concentration. So in other words, don’t waste your break on Facebook or CandyCrush, take a step outside instead, or at least get up and move around for a bit. Staying cooped up inside all day doesn’t really offer any benefit for productivity.
Have a Nice Work Space
Sitting in a folding aluminum chair at a plastic table, surrounded by cinder-block walls and fluorescent lights, without any windows? You’re probably not going to be productive at all, then, considering the circumstances. Your office or work space should not be offensive to your senses, for the environment that you work in can greatly affect your productivity, maximizing it or perhaps eliminating it entirely. So make your space a pleasant one – try adding photos or artwork, perhaps a plant or two, perhaps you should open the blinds. It’ll help.
Follow the “Two-Minute” Rule
If you have tasks to complete which would take two minutes or less, you should do them immediately rather than putting them off until later. You’ll notice that your workload will move along much faster, and your days will go more smoothly as a result.
Do Not Multitask
It’s a popular myth that multitasking can be a productive activity to engage in. It isn’t. If you’re dividing your attention among several different things, it’s counter-productive –adversely affecting your concentration and energy. There are exceptions – automatic activities combined with others (after all, if you’re walking and having a conversation with someone, you can still breathe and see at the same time), or if the tasks require two different parts of the brain (ie, reading and listening to instrumental music). But if your multitasking does not fall into either of these categories, the solution is clear – give it up and focus on one thing at a time.
Stay Hydrated/ Nourished
It can be difficult to focus when you’re hungry, and quite a bit harder if you’re dehydrated. Drink water, have breakfast and lunch, as the dizziness and fatigue caused by dehydration will do nothing for your ability to focus on work. And neither will hunger pangs.
Put on Headphones
Offices can be busy, noisy places. So if you want to focus, you do have the option of putting on headphones to shut out unwanted distractions. Don’t play anything too distracting – classical music or any other instrumental music is best for work, because lyrics can be distracting.