How To Improve Concentration and Focus at Work

October 02, 2018

A woman uses headphones to block out noise a work.
Struggling with how to improve concentration and focus at work? Here are four so

A woman learns to concentrate at work and avoid distractions.

Stephanie Dwilson

Everyone has times when they need to learn how to improve concentration and focus at work. As much as you may try, there's no way anyone can stay totally focused during an entire work day, and some days are just tougher than others. Here are some of the biggest distractions that people in the office often face, and how you can overcome them.

When You Didn't Get Enough Sleep

What can you do if you didn't get enough sleep and now you're fighting dozing off at your desk? If you're struggling, try exercising before work or during lunch to get your blood circulating. Drink a lot of water and avoid large meals that can make you sleepier, suggests Entrepreneur. A cold shower can shock your system awake in the morning and brief trips outside for fresh air and sun can help. If you have a standing desk at work, use it. Even chewing gum can reduce how sleepy you're feeling.

If you're struggling with consistently sleeping enough, avoid caffeine in the evenings, exercise and put away your computer or phone screen close to bedtime. Sleep podcasts can help too; try the Sleep with Me podcast to start.

When Your To-Do List Is Overwhelming

If you have too much on your to-do list, you might feel so overwhelmed that you just can't concentrate. Several techniques might help. The first is the Pomodoro Technique, in which you commit to spend just 25 minutes on one task at a time. At the end of the 25 minutes, take a short break. Then take a 20-minute break every time you finish four Pomodoro tasks in a row.

If you like crafts, you might like bullet journaling. This is a form of "rapid logging" that allows you to create a personalized journal that works for you. The system will also help you recognize which tasks are most important and which you can drop entirely. Learn how to create a bullet journal here.

You might also have trouble correctly perceiving your actual capacity level for a day. Start your day by determining if you're at 90 percent capacity vs 60 percent capacity, etc. (Don't ever put yourself at 100 percent capacity.) Over time, you'll realize how accurate your perceptions are and adjust accordingly, The Globe and Mail suggests.

You might also try the 1-3-5 approach, says The Guardian. This entails narrowing your to-do list to one big achievement a day, three medium things and five small things.

When Your Noisy Workplace Is Too Distracting

Sometimes, a noisy work environment makes it tough to concentrate, especially if you're in an open-office environment. Try noise-canceling headphones. These allow you to block out external noise without having to turn up the sound in your headphones, which can distract you too. If music or podcasts also distract you, try a streaming channel that consists of just white noise or background sounds, like the sound of rain.

When You Can't Resist the Internet

Sometimes the internet is just too tempting. This might be due to social networking, news sites or just chat and email apps. If the temptation is too much, consider an app or browser plug-in that helps you stay focused. Try an app that tracks how much time you spend on particular websites. Some options for this include Escape or RescueTime.

If you need an app that restricts how much time you spend on time-wasting sites and blocks sites you're on too much, try StayFocusd for Chrome. If you don't use Chrome, try Freedom, which blocks websites and apps. It works on Mac, Windows and iOS devices.

Distractions can be plentiful on the job. But successful methods for fighting these distractions and learning how to improve concentration and focus at work are myriad. If one method isn't working for you, don't be afraid to move on to a different technique.

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