The Art of Staying Focused: 5 Hacks that can Make a Difference to Your Profssional Life in 2021
January 12, 2021
Working in a corporate setup has its perks – you get the support of professionally qualified colleagues, timely paychecks, access to the latest communication tools, and much more. But every coin has a flip side, and your job is no exception to this rule. Staying focused is one of the biggest challenges that hinders the productivity of business executives and professionals around the world, which has been made worse by the events of the past year. According to a Microsoft research, trying to focus on more than one thing at a time may reduce productivity by as much as 40%. Another research suggests, an average desk job employee loses as much as 2.1 hours a day to distractions and interruptions. Did you know a whopping 44% of all work distractions are self-inflicted, and another 23% come from emails?
We, at Analysts, sought out help from our extensive talent network, and asked candidates from across industries and functions about ways they found most helpful in improving focus in the ‘new normal’. Here are the top 5 recommendations.
Acknowledge the Problem
The first step to solving a problem at hand is to acknowledge it. You might be working long hours and putting in your best, but the desired results will remain elusive if you do not recognize the fact that distractions do creep in, no matter how hard you work. What makes things worse is not realizing that giving in to distractions is, in most cases, a habit. Habits such as checking your mailbox, scrolling through various social media platforms, or just simply watching the news, etc., too often become part of your daily work life without you consciously noticing them.
Begin with identifying and acknowledging such behavioral patterns. Maintaining a journal or noting down triggers every time you lose focus will help you identify the root cause and determine how to address it.
Find & Leverage the Right Set of Productivity Tools
Effective use of the right productivity tools can be of great help in augmenting your overall performance and focus. There is a host of open-source and paid tools available in the market to suit your individual needs. A few top picks from our candidates shared great reviews about are:
- Trello: A flexible, free, and easy to use tool to organize plans, projects & more.
- Evernote: A user-friendly app for note-taking, organizing, task management, and archiving.
- Cortana: Microsoft’s personal productivity assistant helps you achieve more with less effort while allowing you to focus on what matters.
- Sortd Plugin: If you are a Gmail/Gsuite user, this lightweight plugin will help transform Gmail into a visually organized task list.
- Mailchimp & Hootsuite: For Marketers, these are great all-in-one integrated marketing automation and social media management tools that will help you plan, organize, stay focused and save time.
- Write/Dark Room and Focus Me: If your work involves a lot of writing, internet-blocking tools such as Write/Dark Room will help you stay distraction-free with their distraction-free word processors. If you need to research while writing, tools like Focus Me allow you to set restrictions for sites, apps, or programs.
Set Dedicated Time Slots to Reply to Emails
With our email account(s) synced into almost all of the devices we use throughout the day, we are often faced with an onslaught of emails and teeming inboxes waiting for your attention. Replying to emails at too often or as soon as it hits your inbox is one of the biggest impediments to your focus.
To win over this challenge, it is best to set a particular time of the day to reply to your emails. Read and reply to your messages only during these times.
Break Down Big/Complex Tasks
Suppose you are assigned a big project, and you have a ton to get done before the deadline the next day. In such a scenario, many of us often work ourselves into a frenzy trying to work on all aspects of the project simultaneously. Not only does this lead to metal fatigue but it often also affects the quality of your output.
Here, breaking up a huge task into smaller pieces and completing each sub-task within a given timeline can do wonders for your focus and productivity. Completing one small task at a time not only gives you a sense of accomplishment but also boosts your overall morale and focus.
Connect with Nature to Keep Stress at Bay
Work-related stress not only affects our overall health but also leads to poor focus and productivity. Fortunately, the solution to this issue lies in the park next door. A recent study done by Stanford University found that a 20-minute walk amidst nature brings down blood pressure and, leads to better concentration and flow of positive thoughts. In the study, participants who walked in nature experienced less anxiety, rumination, and more positive emotions, in comparison to the urban walkers. They also improved their performance on the memory tasks.
Every profession has its own challenges, but the one that is prevalent across the board is staying focused and keeping productivity high. We can easily win over this challenge by simply accepting that distractions are omnipresent and giving in to them becomes a habit. All we have to do is break this vicious circle by prioritizing our work, breaking down large projects into smaller ones, and regularly connecting with nature to keep work-related stress at bay.
At Analysts, we are committed to enhancing the marketability and value of professionals across industries. Our Talent Advantage Path (TAP) is the route to get the most from your job, your career, and your calling. We offer training in self-development, team development, visibility, leadership, work/life balance, and volunteering your talents as an effective way to gain more experience. Join our talent network and watch this space for the latest news, insights, and events from Analysts.