Tips to Boost Your Concentration and Focus at Work

Published On: July 31, 2017|Categories: Employees|
How to improve your focus at work

When you sit down at your desk at the beginning of a work day, the expectation is to remain focused and concentrated in order to complete your workload. In reality, however, days at work often come with distractions. While it’s important to foster a good community in the workplace, chatting with coworkers can easily take up time and cause you to lose focus; not to mention the always present lure of social media and the internet waiting anxiously to throw off your focus.

Thankfully, there are habits and tricks you can utilize to help you improve focus at work and keep your productivity going all day long.

What to do when you can’t focus at work

Once you lose your focus, it can be difficult to regain it. With a little practice, and perhaps a strategy or two in mind, it can become natural to guide yourself back into a workflow no matter what the initial distraction might have been.

Log out of your email for a set time each day

Seeing a new message hit our inbox can pull us away from the task at hand; notifications can distract us just as quickly as the message or email itself. But this habit only erodes our focus and productivity. To remove the initial distraction, consider logging out of your email for 30-60 minutes every morning or afternoon. Use this “notification-less” time to complete high-priority projects, cross off multiple smaller tasks from your list or feel the benefit of working undistracted on one assignment for an extended period.

Avoid social media during work hours

Social media is a common source of workplace interruption, be it notifications or the rabbit hole of scrolling the newsfeed. Signing off your social networking accounts during work hours or silencing notifications will eliminate what has become one of the biggest enemies of employee productivity. Reserve your lunch hour for scrolling social media and dedicate your hours on the clock to work alone.

Set your cell phone to airplane mode

If you were to track the things responsible for pulling you away from your work during a one-week period, chances are you’d see your cell phone emerge as one of the top culprits. Whether you’re checking email, looking up the score of last night’s game or texting friends, your cell phone can significantly reduce your productivity.

While there are many professional cases in which you may not be able to set your phone to airplane mode—perhaps your employer provides you with a mobile phone and requires you to be accessible at all times during the work day—if you are able to do your job without the use of your personal phone, try eliminating this distraction from your day and see how it improves your focus.

Take short breaks throughout the day

Have you ever noticed how it can be difficult to maintain focus on a task after you’ve been at it for a long time? This loss of focus is known as “vigilance decrement,” and is actually a normal response in our brains when they’ve been intently concentrated on one thing for a long time.

University of Illinois psychologist Alejandro Lleras conducted research on how the brain stops registering information it’s been exposed to for too long and how breaks actually increase one’s focus (every time you return to the project, it’s technically new stimuli to the brain). The study concluded that “when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task.”

One strategy for incorporating short, regular breaks into your work day is to follow the fifty-ten rule where you work uninterrupted for fifty minutes and then take a ten-minute break. It will help you return to your project with fresh eyes and better motivation than before.

Power your brain with the right foods

Giving your brain the proper nutrients is essential to improving your cognitive function. Doctors recommend eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids to boost brain performance. Wild-caught salmon, nuts, avocados and chia seeds are great sources of the healthy fats our brains need. Other foods known to improve brain function include blueberries, black beans, beets, coconut oil and broccoli. So when you have a craving for a mid-afternoon snack, treat yourself to some of these power foods to keep you going throughout the day.

Other ways to improve your focus

In addition to the above techniques, a few more daily habits can help you refine your work day and give you motivation:

  • Start your day off with 20-30 minutes of exercise
  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night
  • Declutter your workspace before beginning the day or at the end of the day
  • Tackle your most daunting tasks first
  • Break down large projects into more manageable chunks
  • Make to-do lists
  • Set the thermostat at a cooler temperature to promote awakeness

Of course, this list is not comprehensive and you know yourself best — if you have other strategies you use to motivate yourself, keep yourself accountable and incorporate them into your routine today.

Additional support for workplace effectiveness

Looking for additional help to improve your concentration at work? Employee assistance programs, like the ones offered through Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP, offer resources to employees so they feel supported and motivated both in the workplace and at home. To learn more, contact us via our website or call our offices at (800) 543-5080.

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