You look at the clock, and it’s 3 p.m. You only have two hours to go — yet you realize that you haven’t accomplished much. How did the entire day pass by?
The way you maintain focus and discipline at work impacts your entire career trajectory. Failure to pay attention can lead to costly errors for both you and your organization. Conversely, applying your best efforts paves the way for success. If you’re struggling to make it through the afternoon and put in a quality day, the following tips can help.
Why Focus and Discipline Matter
Your ability to discipline yourself impacts the overall success of the organization with which you work. If you’re in accounting, for example, the amount you accomplish for your clients will directly impact the number of billable hours you accumulate. Maintaining accurate time records is a matter of professional ethics in many fields. It isn’t okay to bill for two hours of labor if you whiled away 55 minutes surfing social media.
Maintaining focus increases your chances of winning valuable promotions and achieving financial security. Experts estimate that 70 to 80% of an organization’s market value comes from intangibles, like reputation. Your performance on the clock is your reputation — what does it say about you?
Once other people perceive you as less-than-efficient, that stereotype proves challenging to overcome. You may watch colleagues move up the corporate ladder while you remain stuck in a next-to-entry-level position.
Eventually, this lack of advancement takes a toll on your self-esteem, making you resent clocking in each day. Over time, the vicious cycle of depression, avoidance and poor performance can lead to termination at worst. At best, it’s a shortcut to increased anxiety.
What factors impact your ability to maintain focus and discipline at work? Consider the following common distractions.
- External noise: If you work in an office, overly chatty colleagues can monopolize your day. A 5-minute coffee break suddenly stretches into a 30-minute gripe session. If you work remotely, noisy television and screaming children can take you away from the task at hand.
- Social media: Do you work on a computer? If so, checking each social notification you see takes away more time than you realize. Even momentary distractions can waste nearly a half-hour trying to regain your focus.
- Anxiety: Stress is a productivity vampire, but it can also create a vicious cycle. The less you accomplish in a day, the more stressed out you feel. Therefore, you procrastinate getting to work the following day, where you complete even less.
Improving Focus — Pragmatic Steps
You can benefit from increasing your focus and discipline at the office. What steps should you take to turbocharge productivity? The actions below focus on eliminating vampires that suck your concentration lifeblood.
Bonus: Focus apps!
Make Yourself Comfortable
If your co-workers insist on overly frigid office temperatures, it might impact your productivity. When you’re focused on feeling cold or hungry, you’re not concentrating on the task at hand. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to type a report or calculate expenses — your hands won’t work well if you’re rubbing them to keep warm.
Download an app for your cell phone or tablet that allows you to manage projects or to-dos easily. If you work in a complex where you share space, bring a cardigan with you for when it gets chilly. If you’re always warm, invest in a fan or a small portable air conditioner for your space.
Shut Out Distractions
It’s tougher for distractions to derail your concentration when you take proactive measures to shut them out. When you sit down at your desk, lock your cellphone in a drawer or stow it securely in your backpack. Sometimes, you might need to keep it handy — for example, if you have a special needs child or another person you care for. If so, try decluttering your digital spaces by disabling visual and auditory notifications so that you ease the temptation to check what Netflix recommends.
Create a List
What’s the first thing you do when you get to work? Unless your job involves human resources or communication, you can do better than checking your email. If you tackle your most challenging chore first, you can supercharge your productivity.
Once you get past the tricky part, the rest is smooth sailing. Before leaving work each day, make a to-do list for the following day using ClickUp’s simple and easy-to-use task manager. Place the task that results in the most significant rewards first.
Few people can maintain their focus uninterrupted. One of the many work habits that set apart successful people from unsuccessful people is managing their time properly, which includes taking some time for themselves now and then.
You’re human, and you deserve to rest now and then. In addition, doing so improves your levels of creativity when you return to your tasks. Get up once per hour and take a walk around the building. Alternately, stretch your arms or pour yourself a cup of tea.
Bonus: Memorization Techniques
Developing Discipline — Personal Habits
It’s challenging to maintain focus and discipline at work if you’re not feeling your best. To perform at top-notch, adopt healthy personal habits, too.
Get Regular Exercise
Research indicates that regular exercise boosts overall productivity. Working out increases the levels of endorphins in your bloodstream. These feel-good chemicals have a natural opioid-like effect, increasing your energy and making you feel empowered.
Instead of heading to the smoker’s bench on your break, take a 5-minute walk to clear your head. Aim to get 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day. You don’t have to join a gym. Instead, dock your cell phone and dance around your living room. You can also undertake rigorous house cleaning.
Prep Healthy Meals
Poor nutrition can lead to a depressed mood and a lack of focus. When you develop deficiencies in minerals like magnesium, it impacts your brain function. Take the time to prep healthy grab-and-go meals on the weekend or days off.
With something you can eat instantly, you won’t hit the drive-thru. You can also cut up individual servings of ingredients for meals so that you can effortlessly toss them into the wok when you get home.
Practice Sleep Hygiene
You can’t maintain your concentration when your brain needs a break. Practice positive sleep hygiene by going to bed and rising at approximately the same time each day — even on weekends.
Keep electronics out of your bedroom, as the blue light from devices can interrupt natural sleep cycles. Invest in blackout curtains if you live in an urban area with high light pollution levels.
Manage Your Anxiety
Tame the tiger in your brain with mindfulness meditation and practices like yoga. If you find that you can’t stop overthinking, seek professional help. Contact your insurance company for a list of licensed therapists. A combination of medications and talk therapy can help you regain control of negative thought patterns.
For more tips check out our guide on reducing workplace anxiety 💜
Improve Your Focus and Discipline at Work and in Life
When you improve your focus and discipline at work, you reap professional benefits. Taking control of your habits helps you increase your overall well-being and enjoyment of life, too. Get started on the path to greater concentration today!
To regain concentration in the office, try to shut out distractions, including talkative colleagues and social notifications. If possible, stash your smartphone away in a drawer or keep it in your car. You can also develop personal discipline through habits like a regular sleep schedule and healthy meal prepping.