Staying focused at work can be difficult. Learning how to improve focus at work can be a game changer. Our ability to stay focused at work on our most important tasks until they are complete can set us up for success every day. In a world of distractions and interruptions, being focused is a capability everyone needs to develop.
In this article I’ll share what causes lack of focus and share 9 tips on how to improve focus at work so you can develop laser-like focus to be more productive and get your most important work completed.
All successful people have mastered the art of being able to focus on their most important activities, despite the many opportunities and distractions vying for their attention.
If you want to start improving your focus and concentration at work, it’s essential to clarify what is most important and then simplify your time, energy and focus to only work on those activities.
Increasing your focus at work will help rid your mind of shiny objects and creates better boundaries around your time. When you can focus better, you’ll be able to develop laser like mental focus and concentration on a small number of your most important activities.
What is mental focus?
Mental focus is our ability to concentrate on and direct our mental focus on the thing or person that is most important at that moment. Being mentally focused means you can put your mind and focus on the one thing you want to accomplish at a specific moment in time. This requires that you are mentally strong and have the mental commitment to stay on task and not be distracted.
Having a mental focus is all about identifying something specific and important to you and then focusing fully on that thing or activity until completed. Improving your mental focus helps you identify the small number of things that really matter and giving your full focus and attention to them.
Causes of lack of focus and concentration
Feel like you can’t focus at work? There are a number of reasons why you can’t focus at work but much of it comes down to choice. Choice in deciding what you want to do and what’s important. When you are clear on where you should focus, you can stop multi-tasking and focus your attention on what matters.
Here are 6 causes of lack of focus and concentration.
Tired all the time
If you’re feeling tired all the time or exhausted it’ll be difficult to maintain focus. A lack of sleep can increase tiredness and make you feel exhausted all the time. When you don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, you can start each day feeling foggy and fatigued.
Improve sleep. Not enough sleep can leave you feeling tired and fatigued and reduce your attention span and ability to concentrate. Use these tips to sleep better and help you improve mental focus.
If you have too much going on in your mind and in your daily life it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Overwhelming tasks and to-do lists can make it hard to maintain focus on what’s most important and then work continuously on that task until complete.
To increase mental focus, simplify your to-do list to only three things each day where possible. This will help you return your focus to your biggest priorities.
Distractions are everywhere. Time traps, shiny objects, meeting requests, email and social notifications can stop your ability to focus. If you want to start improving your mental focus and reduce distractions set better boundaries around your time and work in blocks of time.
Lack of clarity
It’s hard to maintain focus when you don’t know what to do. When you don’t have clear goals and a daily action plan, it’s easy to lose focus on where you should be investing your time and energy. To start increasing your mental focus use proven goal setting techniques to clarify your focus.
They will help you set short-term goals which will simplify your to-do list and improve your mental focus.
Procrastination stops your ability to focus. When you procrastinate you know you should do something, but something stops you. Or, you know you shouldn’t do something but you do it anyway. Procrastination takes your focus away from what’s really important until there’s an urgent deadline. Use these tips and tools to learn how to stop procrastinating.
Tips to improve concentration
Here are 6 simple tips to improve concentration.
- Set daily goals to keep you on track
- Tackle your most important activity first
- Make tasks achievable
- Create a focus day every week
- Practice mindfulness to aid focus
- Work in 60 minute cycles
9 tips on how to improve focus and concentration
Here are 9 tips on how to improve your focus and concentration.
1. Stop multi-tasking at work
Understand where your focus needs to be. Your ability to focus drops if you are being pulled in different directions. To improve mental focus work in blocks of time to remove distractions and increase your attention span so you can focus on your most important work.
Make sure you schedule time so can focus on your tasks in uninterrupted silence.
If need be, let people know that you won’t be responding unless absolutely necessary.
This could be focusing time on your biggest money making opportunities or working on something crucially important.
When you block time out ensure you have plenty of breaks to maintain energy, focus and concentration.
Intentionally carving out blocks of time will help you focus and stop other things from distracting you.
2. Enhance your mental focus
Improving your mental focus starts with simplifying your list of activities you want to complete each day.
Delegating and eliminating activities that don’t motivate or excite you ensures you maximise your time and focuses your energy on achieving your goals.
It can be hard to stay focused and motivated when your mind is confused and cluttered with all of the projects and tasks you need to do.
But if you can simplify. When you can carve away the unnecessary, you will increase mental focus and get more done. Increased focus helps you manage time effectively and feel more motivated.
What areas of your life could you simplify to increase mental focus?
One way you could do it is to combine tasks. Think about two things you want to do and see how you could combine them into one activity.
3. Cut down your to-do list
To help increase your focus start by cutting back your to-do list and then single focus, rather than multi-task, on your most important activities.
If you have 20 things on your to-do list it’s impossible to be focused.
You may start to multi-task to try and keep up, which takes your focus away from your most important activities.
If you want to start improving your mental focus, cut down your to-list and stop multi-tasking.
Decide what your three most important activities are each day and spend your time on the most important first.
If you can achieve 15 crucially important activities each week, wouldn’t that be a good week?
4. Focus on your desired result
One of the main reasons people struggle to maintain focus on a task or project is because they haven’t emotionally and intellectually sold themselves on the thing they’re trying to achieve.
The end result of doing the thing they’re doing isn’t big enough to keep their focus and concentration or move them into action.
When you sell yourself on doing something you are clear about:
- The reason you’re doing the thing you’re doing (the purpose)
- It’s importance
- You know the difference the result will make when complete
- The ideal outcome you want to achieve
- You know the best that can happen when complete
There is a set of measurable criteria in place showing what the successful outcome looks like when the project or thing is completed.
To start improving your mental focus get clear on the specific outcome you want to create and know the difference it will make when complete.
5. Set measurable goals
Your ability to focus improves when you set short, measurable goals, ideally 90 day goals.
This measurable focus is great for motivation and training the brain to focus only on things that are specific and measurable.
When we are making real progress towards our goals, it makes us a lot happier. We are motivated and inspired.
We all sense where we are in the present moment. The past has gone and the future is well, the future.
In this present moment, we feel like we’re making progress, moving forward in the right direction or we’re not. We can’t stop time. We can only make better use of our time.
If you’re not happy with the progress you’re making, you may start comparing with others which can take away your focus.
Think about what goals you want to achieve for the next 90 Days. Ask yourself what is the meaning/purpose behind each of the goals.
Write the goals down. Put specific measurements against each goal and visualise what achieving the goals will mean to you in terms of your own personal progress.
6. Start a new habit
Sometimes, the smallest shifts create the biggest results in our ability to focus
When you start a new habit, whether that’s going to the gym, creating videos or improving your speaking, the key is consistency and repetition.
By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you improve mental focus and create incremental improvements.
To improve mental focus, the key is repetition.
If you want to start meditating the key is to stay with it, not to break the chain.
When you’re gearing up to run a 5k, the key is to run every day and build that strength and stamina.
If you have a vision of yourself as someone who doesn’t complete projects, then you think of yourself as that person. But if you tell yourself every day you’re a world class ‘project completer,’ you’ll begin to think and act like that person.
When you’re procrastinating on a big project, just start small and do something to move it forward, even if only five minutes. The next day work on that project again.
The key is deciding what you want to improve and then working on that thing every day. A 1% improvement every day can produce big results in the end.
7. Improve your energy
Energy is a huge motivator. If we are fired up or excited about someone or something, we are usually very focused and motivated.
Think about the last time you achieved something important. I’m guessing your energy and motivation was high?
If you’ve beaten your best time on the track, or lost the weight you wanted, or won a big piece of business, your energy will be sky high and you will want to dive back in again to improve your previous performance.
When we are excited and motivated about the things we are doing, we bring high levels of energy and focus.
Start improving your mental focus by focusing on the things that excite and motivate you. High levels of energy produce continual growth and give you higher levels of confidence.
Try this exercise to improve mental focus
Pick three things that give you high levels of excitement and motivation.
Commit to spending at least one more hour on each of the things every month.
See what you can achieve. If it brings in the results you want, aim to spend more time on those 3 things and remove 3 things you want to spend less time on.
8. Start taking action
If you’ve been resisting taking on a big project for a while, be that at home or at work, everything else in your life can begin to suffer.
Sometimes, you just have to face your resistance and fear and do what you’ve been avoiding. That simple focus, could make a real difference to your life.
We all have lots to do and sometimes it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the tasks at hand.
The key to improving your mental focus is to prioritise so you make the best use of your time and make an internal commitment to just get started.
9. Introduce an evening routine
To improve mental focus each day, make specific decisions about where to spend your time the night before.
Create an evening routine to set yourself up for a focused, productive day tomorrow.
Make a decision the night before that you won’t check your emails or social media first thing before you have finished the more important tasks that need to be completed.
Stick to your schedule and at the end of the day close your eyes for a few minutes and take in how good you feel to be in charge of your day.
Getting into the habit of planning your day in advance will make you more focused.
It will stop you getting sidetracked and wasting time and energy on small, unimportant things.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
What’s your best tip for increasing focus and concentration?
What’s one tip you’ll start using to improve your own focus after reading this article?
Let me know in the comments.
About the Author
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