Everyone has been there. You’re sitting at your desk at work with tons of papers, emails, and meetings to get through before the end of the day, and yet, you just can’t seem to focus on a single thing in front of you. Your mind is on something else entirely, and that’s totally stopping you from getting your work done in time. So with this being an almost all-too-common sensation, how do we get it to stop? How do we get ourselves to focus on what we are supposed to do today and not on what we are planning to do this weekend? Here are some easy ways to keep your mind focused throughout the work week, all of which are sure to help you keep your head where it needs to be during the week.
Focus on one task at a time.
If you consider yourself a multitasker and can’t get yourself to stick to completing one thing at a time, you are more likely to get distracted easily by simple things like your cell phone or people walking around the office. And yes, social media can be considered a “task”. Sitting on your phone and scrolling through Instagram while you are supposed to be getting work done hinders your focus on everything, and when you are ready to finally return to what you were originally doing, you will have a harder time getting back on track. Plus, studies have shown that multitaskers tend to have shorter attention spans and have a harder time remembering certain things, both of which could further hinder your ability to get work done during the day.
Hit the gym.
Not only does exercising make your body look great, but it helps with your overall brain function, too. Exercising can improve your memory capacity and concentration. Some scientists even think that exercising on a regular basis releases a chemical in your body that helps with just those things, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. So if you had a stressful day at work and all you can think about are all the problems that you just faced, the best thing to do is exercise to get your mindset right.
Try not to take work home with you.
When you leave work every day, you should be going home to rest your brain, not stress about the next day, so make sure that you give your brain a break. Taking a step back from the problems going on at work for a couple hours will help you cut back on your stress, which will only make it easier for you to stay on task when you’re back at it. Scientists have also found that sometimes just giving your problems some time to work themselves out tends to solve problems better than thinking too much about them. And while this theory (which has been dubbed unconscious thought theory by researchers) may not feel proactive enough for your liking, it could still be worth trying out for the sake of forgetting about work problems for a couple of hours so that you can shift your focus to other important parts of your life, like family and friends.
Get a good night’s sleep.
One of the problems that occurs from lack of sleep is poor concentration and performance. Not getting a good night’s sleep can hinder your focus, which will make you not work to the best of your abilities the next day. Everyone should get about seven to eight hours of sleep a night in order to be considered a full sleeping cycle. Make sure you have your downtime after work and crawl into bed at a decent hour so that you are prepared to do your best the next day.
A great way to wake yourself up in the morning is to get caffeinated. Drinking coffee will wake you up and make you ready to take on the day ahead. However, don’t overdo yourself and get a Venti with tons of sugar – having too much caffeine will make you super jittery and you’ll be too wound up to concentrate. (And no one wants a hyper coworker when they’re trying to hunker down and get stuff done.) Trying to avoid the coffee altogether? Try one of our favorite alternatives to java for the same energy boost without the a.m. coffee run.
Find a designated spot to work in your office.
It’s always great to be part of the social circle with your coworkers and be able to chat about your lives and what your work day looks like, but sometimes, it’s time to stop talking and start working. Leaving your desk and finding a quiet area within your office space is a great way to keep your eye on the ball and finish what needs to be completed. If you can’t leave your desk and move about the office, try to unplug yourself from what’s going on around you by putting headphones in and playing soothing music or sounds that are likely to help you stay focused. Listening to white noise, specifically, really drowns out your surroundings and helps you keep your mind in the right place.
Give yourself “focus hours.”
A great way to keep your eyes glued to the task at hand is to designate a certain time period to ignore the distractions around you, like your phone and your coworkers, and complete what is in front of you. Getting yourself on an individualized schedule like this will really help you stay focused on what you need to do in order to complete your work and feel less stressed. Because, remember, less stress leads to a better and healthier way of living.