In today’s busy society with numerous demands pulling on us from various sides, it can be challenging to focus on any one thing. Are there any solutions to improve lack of focus in the work environment?
Experts agree that there have never been more distractions in history as there are today. Advances in technology have opened up the space for us to receive volumes of information at the same time. This has seen a resurgence in multi-tasking, as you can be working on your computer, talking on your smartphone, and watching television at the same time. When you add to the fact that it’s now possible to watch more than one television program at the same time, the result of all of this is information overload.
In the ’50s through 70’s people, especially women, were proud of their ability to multitask. As the ’80s rolled around the discovery was made that multitasking actually makes you inefficient as you’re not giving total focus to any one thing. Now in the digital world we live it, it seems that once again people feel they must multi-task in order to keep up and not miss out. So, instead of FOCUS – Follow One Course Until Successful, there is FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.
Keep in mind that multitasking takes away your focus and keeps you from working efficiently and effectively.
You could argue that someone in a regulated work environment may not be subjected to as many distractions as the entrepreneur who works from home.
In reality, employees are faced with many distractions that divert their focus.
In “Under the Looking Glass: Encouraging Your Employees to Focus”, on BIZCATALYST 360°, the point Is made as follows, “These days, employees have so many distractions, not just in a digital sense, but in a professional, and even personal way. As such, we have to figure out how to increase productivity, but also, encourage our employees to focus.” The article recommended four ways to counter lack of focus and encourage productivity:
- Focus on one thing at a time
- Encourage “No Interruption Time”
- Structuring the day
- A reward system
While the article was slanted in favor of employees, each of these points can be modified for entrepreneurs.
In 2005, research carried out by Dr Glenn Wilson at London’s Institute of Psychiatry found that persistent interruptions and distractions at work had a profound effect. Those distracted by emails and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ, twice that found in studies on the impact of smoking marijuana.
Naturally the foregoing affects productivity. This is especially significant when you consider that it takes anywhere from 15 to 23 minutes for you to get back into the mode you were in before the distraction.
Whether you’re an employee of you’re an entrepreneur, following are four simple tips to create a distraction-free work environment so that you can give total focus and complete your daily responsibilities.
- Silence the Ringer on Your Cell Phone: With a doubt, your cell phone is important and for many people have become their constant companion. When you’re always on the alert to receive a call or text, it can interrupt your productivity. Because of what you do, you may not want to ignore these incoming calls or texts. Instead, you may want to limit how often you check for them and decide your realistic intervals so that you can gain some focused time.
- Using a Social Media Blocking App: Social Media is essential to every business, some more than others. For example, if your company monitors customer service over social media you’ll want to pay attention so you can respond quickly.On the other hand, you can lose valuable hours by being sucked into platforms like Facebook and Twitter. In fact, these were the platforms generally considered distracting. However, business owners who spend most of their time on LinkedIn have also got to be on guard, especially as there are now more opportunities for interaction, like LinkedIn lives and videos. While the topics may be informative, you should set aside time that’s not considered productivity time to watch and absorb anything that’s not directly related to what you’re working on at the moment.There are apps like StayFocused and HelpMeFocus that block distracting apps and notifications.
- Your Priority List and To-Do Lists: You should have a Priority List where you list your most critical actions for the week and each day. This means that once those priority tasks are done, any other task can be completed. At the same time, you may feel scattered and torn between personal and work projects. A good to-do list will be an asset as you can jot these projects down, go back to work, and review at a later time.
The results will be much better than deciding to change gears in the middle of one project.
Set boundaries: Two quotes immediately come to mind.
“Lack of boundaries invites lack of respect.” ~ Anonymous
“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used
and mistreated.” ~ Brené Brown.
Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to set boundaries. It’s not an easy proposition.
I remember when I worked in the corporate world, if I was working on a major project, many times I’d make a deliberate effort to get to work at least 30 minutes early. I either wanted to get a headstart or I needed to catch-up. There was one co-worker who got to work very early every morning because her husband dropped her off on the way to his job…she was glad to have someone else in early to talk with. Even as I pondered how best to tell her I came in early for a reason, I’d waste at least 10 minutes of ‘being nice’ talking about non-consequential matters.
Many women who work from home have shared that one of their biggest challenges they have is having friends who think that because they’re home they can babysit or do errands for them. Sometimes all it takes is having a polite conversation explaining that you work from home and you’ve blocked off specific times for work but you’re happy to get with them after your work time.
Whether you are an employee or you’re your own boss who works from home, when you’re able to limit distractions and improve your focus in your work environment, you’ll find that you’re more efficient and have more free time to enjoy non-work related tasks. You’ll also have less stress as you get things done more efficiently.
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