In this digital age, our phone and computer screens demand our attention every other second. Even in our sleep we're kept distracted by a heap of things that has everything to do with both our personal and professional lives. When the realisation dawns upon us that staying distracted is doing us no good, we feel a tremor and strongly desire to improve and manage our attention span better. But you may think like "how can I focus when there are emails barging in my Outlook through the day" or "I keep getting calls every other minute" or "I have a dozen meetings scheduled for the day". Well, your concerns are valid because there's so much to catch up on. However, slowing down a bit will not cause harm. You need to train your brain to focus better and better every day. This requires consistent effort. Get your mind to believe that it can do the unthinkable: focus.
When you hear a notification your brain immediately wants to switch focus and see what is it that needs its immediate attention. Natural, right? But, here's the deal. Exercise some self-control by switching off notifications on both your phone and office communicator. Set a target of going 15 minutes without getting distracted by your devices and then prolong it to another 30 minutes. You will notice that with time you will have greater control over how you function.
Set a time during the day to respond to emails
When you start responding to emails as soon as they reach your inbox, you tend to lose focus. Getting back to what you were initially doing then not only takes a little longer for you to re-focus, but also finish it with as much concentration. A way out of it is to set up 30 minutes or so just to respond to emails because not every email requires an immediate response. Besides, you don't need to set your day as per the schedule of others. They too will realize that you aren't available round the clock.
Start early; finish challenging tasks in the first half of the day
Reach office earlier than you would and get around to completing challenging things first. This way you know what needs your attention first thing in the morning. Once you do this, you will find a sense of accomplishment takingover which keeps you motivated and upbeat, and you become more focused to finish as much as you can through the day. Or if you think you function better post lunch then allocate the toughest tasks for that time.
Make a list of 'unimportant tasks'
When you realise you've begun procrastinating then make a to-do list of seemingly less important tasks. Stick it on your board and wire yourself into checking those off your list. This way you will spend less time whiling away and utilize time productively. Understand this is a very small exercise of refocusing when your mind wants to meander in different directions.
Ultimately, your goal is to not stay focused 24/7, but to go distraction-free for short durations that would help you complete more work. You will notice a considerable difference in your productivity.
— The writer is Head - Content Development, Work Better Training
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