We’ve all been there. You’re at work, you’ve got a deadline coming up, and you just can’t seem to pay attention. You can’t focus. You’re distracted by your phone, your coworkers, or even by thinking about lunch.
What can you do? How can you regain focus, and concentrate on what’s important? Let’s discuss step-by-step strategies that you can follow to eliminate distractions, and become a more effective worker.
- Figure Out What’s Distracting You (And Why!)
First things first – what’s distracting you? An Instagram post? The view out of your window? A text message conversation with one of your friends? Identifying one (or more) of your distractions is the first step towards regaining focus.
But even more important than figuring out what is distracting you is figuring out why you’re feeling distracted in the first place. Are you bored with your work? Are you procrastinating because you don’t want to start a big project? Are you dealing with issues in your personal life?
The reason you are being distracted is more important than the distraction itself. Figure out why you are unable to focus, and you will be able to understand the true cause of the distraction – and address it.
- Break Down Your Tasks Into More Manageable “Chunks”
Procrastination is one of the most common reasons for distraction. When you’re facing a large project or a task that seems scary, unapproachable, or otherwise intimidating, the tendency is to start distracting yourself and procrastinating.
That’s a natural reaction, of course. But there’s an easy solution. Simply break each large task into a smaller set of tasks – and start with the simplest, easiest one! Then, work your way up through each individual task.
For example, if you have to create an important PowerPoint presentation, don’t just try to do the whole thing at once.
Start by writing a simple outline of the presentation. Then, work out some more details. Create a rough draft. Start thinking about slide style and presentation. Start writing out some speaking notes, and so on!
This is called “chunking”, and it’s a psychological technique used to make large, scary tasks less intimidating. Give it a try – it really works!
- Don’t Forget To Take Breaks
You may become distracted if you’re not giving yourself enough time to breathe, and relax in-between tasks. We recommend taking at least a 5 minute break each hour when you can just sit back, have a cup of coffee, or chat with a coworker – without feeling guilty! Use that time however you want.
Then, when it’s time to get back to work, focus on your tasks. You’ll find it’s much easier once you’ve given yourself a little bit of time to rest and recover!
- Pop On Some Headphones
If it’s allowed at your office, you could consider wearing headphones. Many people find that listening to music or even a podcast makes them more effective, and less prone to distraction.
In addition, wearing headphones is a sign to coworkers and other colleagues that you probably don’t want to be interrupted unless it’s important – so you won’t have as many distracting conversations.