You know what you should be doing: Working on that spreadsheet your boss asked you for last week.
Instead, you keep checking your fantasy football league lineup and texting your buddies to ask if you should trade Peyton Manning for Aaron Rodgers. You’re not a productivity all-pro right now.
According to a Robert Half survey of chief financial officers, social media activity and other nonbusiness online use distract about a third of their employees. More than a fourth say employees who chat with each other about nonwork topics were the biggest time wasters. So before you mistakenly enter Peyton Manning’s total passing yards into your biggest client’s P&L spreadsheet, try these tips to stay focused at work.
1. What’s your problem?
Figure out what exactly prevents you from staying focused at work. Single out texting, chatting with your coworkers, or posting photos on Pinterest.
2. Eat breakfast
The most important meal of the day can help improve attention and concentration. Make sure you fuel up.
You can prepare to concentrate on work tasks by focusing on the most basic task of life — breathing. Meditation may help certain brain functions linked to attention and, as a bonus, creativity.
4. Have a game plan
Write down what you want to get done for the day. Setting daily goals and checking them off as you finish can help keep you on track.
5. Shut off the outside world
Your cellphone and computer can destroy productivity. Many employers now block some sites or require employees to limit cellphone use at work. Put your cellphone on silent, and avoid checking any sites that aren’t work-related until you take a lunch break.
6. Break it down
Does that project you’re working on seem insurmountable? Divide it into bite-size pieces so you can tackle it with less anxiety.
7. Set time limits
Rather than setting out to do a task until it’s complete, set a time limit to do a part of it. Having a time in mind may help you be more productive. Plus, you’ll know when you can take a break.
The Post-it notes and desk toys strewn around your workspace may be doing more harm than good if they let your mind wander. Clearing your desk of distractions will help keep you focused.
9. Reward yourself
Motivate yourself to get work done by giving yourself a reward when a task is complete. Here’s your chance to have a snack, check Facebook or chat with your coworkers if they’re free.
10. Take small breaks
You may find that you work best in spurts. If so, plan to work hard for a while and take a short break afterward. Repeat.
11. ‘Do Not Disturb’
Your coworkers are simply trying to be sociable when they stop by to chat, but it’s lousy timing when you’re trying to get work done. Place a 'Do Not Disturb' sign of sorts at your desk to let them know you don’t want to be distracted. Respect your coworkers’ need to not be distracted, too.
What helps you stay focused at work? Let us know in the comments section.