We all know the feeling. You’re on track for a productive day, ready to dive in to your work with gusto. But first, you decide to check your email, then read the news headlines, then watch a funny video… next thing you know, half the day has gone by and you’ve barely gotten anything done! It’s a common problem, but it can be solved. Below, we have some simple tips that can help you stay focused and maximise your time throughout the day.
1. Cut Out the Distractions
The easiest way to avoid being distracted is to keep distractions away! If you always find yourself getting sidetracked having conversations with your coworkers, try hunkering down in a quiet workroom or somewhere else you can be alone. If your procrastination vice is constantly checking your email, turn off your phone and close the mail tab on your browser. In fact, if your job allows it, it’s not a bad idea to disconnect from the internet entirely while focusing on work. There are even apps that can block certain websites for you, keeping you away from the parts of the web you find most distracting.
2. Work In Blocks
Picking at your work throughout the day is a surefire way to make sure that nothing ever gets the full attention it deserves. It’s much better to block out large chunks of time during which you can devote your whole mind to a single task or a series of related tasks. Break these blocks up with medium-length, work-free breaks. The less these breaks resemble work, the better! Instead of surfing the web, try going for a walk or doing some light calisthenics near your desk.1
3. Prioritize the Most Important Tasks
The looming threat of a difficult, important task can negatively affect your productivity all day. Putting it off will just stress you out, making it harder to focus on other tasks. This can encourage you to procrastinate even more, digging yourself ever deeper into a productivity hole. Instead, try to work on your more important tasks first. Once you get those out of the way, you’ll feel energized by your success and you’ll be more clear-minded without the spectre of neglected responsibility.2
4. Try Not to Multitask
Everyone thinks they can do it and almost no one is right. According to studies, true multitasking — simultaneously devoting attention to multiple tasks — is basically impossible. Instead, people who successfully “multitask” are just adept at rapidly switching attention between things. The problem is that such switching can burn through your mental reserves, leaving you unable to perform any task at the level that you would have been able to had you devoted your full attention to it.3
Try to follow these tips and you should quickly find that your productivity ticks up, letting you get more done with the limited hours in your day!
1 Ciotti, G. (2014, May 3). The science of productivity. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://www.sparringmind.com/productivity-science/
2 Fitzgerald, B. (2012, June 18). 7 online filters and site blockers for fighting distractions online. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/07/online-filters-site-blockers_n_1578064.html
3 Hamilton, J. (2008, October 2). Think you’re multitasking? think again. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95256794