8 Ways To Stay Focused On The Task At Hand

We all do it- browsing Reddit or Pinterest while we’re at work, having long text conversations with an old friend instead of inputting data, daydreaming about that new car we can’t afford instead of paying attention during a meeting. It’s common and normal for our minds to drift away from work and into mindless entertainment. Sometimes, however, this distraction can be detrimental to your work, like when your boss catches you in the middle of an intense game of solitaire instead of filling out that report that was due an hour ago. We’ve got some unique (and maybe even fun) tips and tricks to keep you focused and driven while you’re at work.

Decrease Your Web Time

It’s a given that most of our wasted time is spent surfing the web. And the worst part? Many jobs are now online, or at the least at a computer. If at all possible, work offline. If you’re working solely in Word or Excel or something that doesn’t require the web, disconnect your wifi. You can also undo your auto logins on your social media, that way it deters you from wanting to click it and log in every single time you want to check your Facebook notifications. Closing down your chat on various websites is also a healthy way to stay focused.

Put Your Phone Away

Our second biggest deterrent from work is probably our smartphones. Can’t use the computer? No worries, we’ve got one in the palm of our hands. Your best bet is to turn it on silent, or turn it off and put it away. Stash it in your purse, your work locker, or even better, give it to a coworker and tell them not to give it to you until you finish what you’re doing. Let your friends know ahead of time not to text or call while you’re in the office- and not to answer you when you reach out to them (except for emergencies, of course).

Set Goals and Rewards

Still having trouble focusing? Bribe yourself. Set 90 minute goals and allow yourself a break and a reward when you’ve focused for the entire 90 minutes. Caved at 30 minutes and glanced at your phone for a second? No reward. Whatever your vice is, Reddit, Facebook or Tumblr, try to hold out for hour and a half increments before browsing. And once you do get your reward, keep it under five minutes. Set a timer if you have to (just not one on your phone)!

Make an iTunes Playlist

If you’ve decided to go the route of timing yourself, a great way to keep up with your time is by creating a playlist of music that lasts about as long as your goal is to work for. Have a task that usually takes you an hour? Make an hour-long power work playlist. Note the middle and almost last songs so you can tell when you’re almost done with focusing and deserve a short break. It’ll keep you focused and entertain you.

Make Time Promises to Your Supervisor

Or, if that’s a little scary, at least announce to your coworkers the time you plan to have something done by. Making promises and publicly allowing people to notice if your slacking will definitely keep you in check. If your boss gives you all day to finish a simple task, simply say “I’ll have it on your desk by 3” and stick to it. Not only will it keep your daydreaming mind in check, but it’ll impress your boss!

Eat Properly- and Not at Your Desk

Don’t forget to eat- a common problem when you’re in front of a desk all day. And when it is time for a lunch break, leave your desk! Instead of eating your sandwich while browsing Twitter, go out with coworkers or eat in the communal dining space at your office. Use your break time to chat with friends about what you’re working on and other things. Make sure to keep a diet rich food that help you focus, too, like fish, nuts, avocados, whole grain, fruits and leafy veggies.

Keep Your Space Clean

A cluttered space makes for a cluttered mind. If you’re looking to keep your focus and a clear head, make sure your working environment isn’t busy. Pick up trash, organize your files and do whatever else needs to be done so you can focus in a clean space.

Try an App or Helpful Tool

Still lacking a little focus? There’s plenty of tools out there to try. App and web extensions can help track your time, block certain sites and keep your tasks for the day in line. There’s also certain web tools that will track how long you spend on certain websites- that could be a real eye opener.

Follow these eight helpful tips and you should be on the road to completing your tasks and minimizing your distractions.

Blair Carroll practices criminal defense at his firm Carroll Troberman Criminal Defense in Austin, Texas. As a committed attorney, he’s always looking for ways to improve his work efficiency.

Image: Closed notebook

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