We’ve all been there. A client gives you an urgent task and tells you she needs it before the day runs out. It’s getting late so, after 30 minutes, you round up your gist with Tunde then turn to your laptop and open a blank page. Suddenly, you remember you haven’t sent funds to your sister to complete her money for the new iPhone. You pause for a moment and go “Oh, let me quickly do that now. I’ve got time.” Just then, Amaka from Business Development sends a really funny YouTube video to the group chat. Apparently, cats don’t like cucumbers. You think it’s cute. Next video is three times cuter and two hours later, you’re finding out Queen Cleopatra’s skincare routine.
Does that scenario sound familiar to you? It should. According to Udemy’s workplace survey, more than 70% of workers report feeling distracted on the job while over 16% felt unfocused during office hours. The report identified the main distractors as chatty workmates, ambient noises and social media. These disturbances not only cause a significant drop in revenue (around $650 Billion in 2018 alone) but can also have harrowing consequences, depending on the vocation in question. Time spent being unproductive when it really matters can lead to escalating rates of longer workdays, employee dissatisfaction, and a stress-filled environment unsuitable for any kind of innovation.
Oftentimes, successful people talk about the importance of concentration as smart work can be achieved in record time when concentration levels are highest. In our present information technology climate, it’s common for us to find ourselves inundated by stimuli and beset on all sides by a myriad of diversions. A couple of techniques I employ to cut these off have worked for me over the last couple months so quickly, I’d love to share them with you.
1) Identify distractions:
Try out this experiment. The next time you’re about to start work, take out a sheet of paper and make a list of everything your mind starts thinking about. Could range from asking yourself if you left your tap on at home to what Barcelona played in the last Champions League match. When you’re done, you should have identified your chief distractors and known your triggers. The next thing would be how you can cut these off and enter your sage mode.
2) Reward system:
Honestly, there’s no better way to motivate than the tried and tested art of a functional reward system.
“If I complete this task in two hours, I’d buy myself a big piece of chicken.”
“If I complete this chapter today, I’d buy myself those red shoes I’ve been eyeing for so long.”
A slight punishment can also be followed as a consequence of failure as the trick is really in the routine.
3) Fly safe with flight mode:
Truth be told, the little people in your phone will never leave you alone. It’s hard to concentrate when there are videos to watch, memes to laugh at and trends to follow. Except social media is literally your work, these shorten our attention spans and can be horrible distractions. Instagram explore can become the pit of focus as many a man has fallen victim to this time-consuming exercise. Best bet? Off it!
4) Turn off autoplay:
YouTube’s algorithm suggests new videos to watch in line with your search history and other user data. Its autoplay function puts these videos on a playlist and plays them continuously, resulting in focus problems for some people as they are almost held spellbound and unable to quit it. Turning this off ensures you do not watch more than the video you bargained for.
5) Music, the focus sharpener:
A quick survey around Patricia Technologies revealed that over 78% of Patricians favored music as their primary concentration enabler and its pretty easy to see why. Total immersion in waves of seamless audio can act as a buffer against distraction and stimulate beta waves in the brain, resulting in more efficient work. Don’t forget to set the genre to something soft and easy so those creative juices can really flow. Or whatever floats your boat, really. Ever wondered why prisoners work to songs?
Whew! At least, you concentrated long enough to get to the end of this article so congrats! We learn every day and I’d sure love to know what little things you do at work to improve your focus. Feel free to leave a comment and have a great day.
PS: Guess how long it took the author of this article to concentrate and finish this.