Does this sound familiar? You have a tonne of work to get through but not a lot of time to do it, so what do you do? Get in the zone and power through?
No, you sit there and think about how much you have to do, silently panicking to the point that you’re practically frozen. Or perhaps procrastination is more your thing – those memes don’t laugh at themselves. Before you know it, an hour has passed and you’ve got barely anything done. It sounds like it’s time to master your focus.
“I Don’t Need to Get in the Zone, I Work Hard”
Even if you try your best not to give in to distractions, you can still lose your focus at work for a number of reasons. You’re in the middle of one task and another one crops up, then another and now the phone is ringing. After that call, you need to send a couple of emails and go and ask your boss something. Wait… What were you supposed to be doing?
There are fewer things more stressful than leaving work at the end of the day feeling like you got nothing done and knowing it’ll be waiting for you tomorrow. Mastering your focus can help you to boost your efficiency and therefore productivity. Meaning you can leave the office completely satisfied with your day’s work.
Want to know how it’s done? See below for a step-by-step guide to help you get in the zone and stay focused at work.
Have a Plan
How do you plan your day? Do you work from a to-do list or diary? Do you wing it? Either way, there’s always room to improve your daily planning. Try to introduce more structure to how you approach your tasks. For instance, break things down into slots. Rather than working through a list, have a schedule. Allot yourself time windows and deadlines to complete certain tasks; doing so will help you to keep your focus as you know the clock is ticking!
Feeling overwhelmed contributes to lack of focus. It’s easy to spend time worrying about how to get everything done when that time could be better spent. When planning your day, have a system in place by which you prioritise the most urgent or important tasks. It’s also helpful to prioritise large or unpleasant jobs to get them out of the way. Once those jobs are done with, you’ll feel more on top of things and ready to tackle the next item on your to-do list.
Split It Up
If you have a huge project or time-consuming task ahead of you, don’t give yourself the chance to lose focus. A great way to stay in the zone is to split large tasks. You may choose to work on it for a while then resume it again at a later point. Or, you may find that changing your perspective can help. Rather than viewing it as one herculean task, break it down into smaller ones you can tick off your to-do list as you go.
If you’re really struggling to stay focused, talk to a colleague or manager about it. Try to actively seek advice; your co-workers may have their own ways of staying focused that you can implement.
Speaking with your manager will allow you to talk through what needs to be done to help you. This sort of conversation needs to be positive and productive, avoid simply moaning! Trial and error will help you find ways of working that help you be on top form.
Keep Your Brain in Check
Those of you with particularly busy brains will appreciate the fact that sometimes minds wander. It’s often unintentional, but the need to stimulate your brain can often lead to you losing your train of thought and boarding another one altogether. Something that keeps your brain satisfied without distracting you from work can do wonders. Music, fidget toys or even clicking the top of your pen can really help. Just be sure not to annoy your co-workers or break any office rules.
If there are distractions that work their magic on you regularly, it might be time to go cold turkey. Block that football website, keep your phone out of reach and don’t get chatting to that co-worker about what happened on your favourite TV show last night. Save it for your breaks!
Take Regular Breaks
It’s hard to get in the zone if you know that you need to be in it for the next 8 hours. Taking regular, short breaks can help you maintain your focus all day long. Not only will they help you keep on track with your to-do list, but they will keep you motivated and, therefore, focused. Try to get up from your desk every couple of hours to break your routine.
How do you train a puppy to do tricks? With treats. How do you get your kids to do their chores? With pocket money. Using incentives is an age-old trick to provoke desired behaviours. So, if you want to focus and get your work done, use incentives. Reward yourself with a break, a cup of tea, a quick look at your phone or that chocolate bar you’ve been saving in your drawer. Doing so will keep you focused as you’re working towards getting something you want.
Bringing It All Together
Trying to get in the zone is not always an easy task. We live in a world full of more and more distractions every day. However, following these steps will help you keep your focus at work.