With new studies showing that humans now have shorter attention spans than goldfish, it may seem harder than ever to keep on task at work. The day usually starts strong and withers with passing time. Even with the fiercest determination, most people get off track one way or another: talking with coworkers, scrolling through Skinny Mom recipes, or just wandering around the office aimlessly. We all do it. Some of these tips may be effective for you when you next find yourself desperately trying to realign your work focus!
Chunk up your tasks. Even if you are facing down a big project, breaking it up into much smaller tasks will help you effectively devote time to the project, and you will feel accomplished every step of the way. This means that organization is key. These chunks will seem much more manageable and your brain won't feel so clogged with everything you need to get done. Feelings of stress sneak up when you take on too much at one time!
Plan out your tasks. This could mean using a day planner and scheduling "appointments" with yourself, or setting alarms on your phone as task reminders. These cues will orient you as to what you should be working on or meetings that are approaching. Also use this to schedule in rewards! Your determination shouldn't go unnoticed, especially by the very person who is so determined! After a few hours of hard work, take a 10 minute stroll outside the office. After your set of small tasks is completed, don't overlook your 11 a.m. appointment with a granola bar outside.
De-clutter your workspace. Alleviate a significant amount of stress by tidying up your workspace. This is an opportunity to take an easy five-minute break from your tasks, and with a little mindfulness about your cleaning, it can be a form of meditation. Staying organized means losing one less piece of paper, which means one less thing that can go wrong! Having a neat workspace can realign your focus.
Instrumental music: In many offices, you'll find people with their nose to the grind and earbuds in their ears. One study found that music increased work productivity because it improves your mood via the release of dopamine. It's important that the music can simply be background noise while your work ethic is still full throttle, so instrumental music that doesn't require you to pay attention to the words would be best. The Mozart effect suggests that listening to the music of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart boosts one's spatial-temporal reasoning.
Hide in plain sight. If you can't seem to get away from the constant ping of emails or the chatter of coworkers, ignore the outside world. Stray away from the emails and stay engrossed in your work so pop-up conversations don't happen quite as often. Even putting a Do Not Disturb sign on your door is an option. You aren't being rude, you are staying on control of your workload. Listening to music is another way to hide in plain sight!