Being able to focus on a single task for as long as is necessary to finish it is crucial for achieving high work productivity. If you often get distracted while performing important tasks, the amount of work you can get done in a workday will be greatly reduced, leading to sub-par performance.
You likely won’t be surprised to hear that the average worker’s attention span has decreased significantly over the last decade. There has never been as much external stimulation as there is today, and it is wreaking havoc on our ability to stay focused on 1 task. Many readers have already lost focus by now and we’re only on the 2nd paragraph. Most won’t make it to the end.
If you do keep reading however, you’ll learn a few nifty tricks that can help you improve your focus and turn into a more productive worker.
Physical activity improves brain function for 2 to 3 hours afterwards due to the chemicals it helps release and the increased blood flow to the brain it induces.
For better productivity, get some exercise before work and schedule your most important tasks or meetings in the morning. When feeling motivated you should try to fit in some exercise during your lunch break as well. Even just a short walk can help boost your focus for the afternoon shift.
If you often suffer from backaches, neck pain or any other aches while sitting at your desk, your focus and productivity will suffer. When you spend most of your day sitting in the same chair at the same desk, you want to make sure that your setup is ergonomic and comfortable.
Get an adjustable chair with lumbar support (or buy a lumbar support pillow), a monitor or laptop stand so you don’t have to strain your neck to view your screen, and an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. If no ergonomic setup seems to provide any relief, you may want to consider trying a standing desk. Besides making it easier to maintain good posture and providing stimulation for moving your body more throughout your workday, research has also indicated that standing while working may improve productivity.
Rid Yourself of Distractions
Do constant emails form a major distraction for getting things done? Then turn off push email notifications and stop checking your email every 5 minutes. Schedule some time for checking and answering emails a few times per day and don’t allow yourself to open your email client in between. The same goes for instant messages on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, work chatrooms, etc.
Turn off all push notifications on your internet connected devices when you are engaged in an important task. Also close any tabs on your web browser that are not relevant to the task at hand and quit all applications you don’t need.
Stop Trying to Multitask
Many people believe they are very good at multitasking and will even mention it as one of their skills during job interviews, but the truth is that focussing on a single task will always lead to better productivity than multitasking.
Several studies have shown that multitasking is a myth and that the human brain can really only perform 1 task at a time. When multitasking (which actually means switching back and forth between tasks), time and energy is wasted because the brain has to stop one thought process and then start a new one every time you switch tasks. So stick to 1 task, finish it and only then start on the next one.