Stay Focused On The Job In Hand
We live in an era of information overload. We are bombarded
with media, technology, entertainment, and notifications every
day. It seems there are hundreds of people and things competing
for your attention at any given time. There is no wonder why in
the last few years, our attention spans have become shorter and
our ability to focus has decreased.
Your time is valuable. Not being able to focus can have a negative
effect on how successful we are at work and in our personal lives.
Focus is a skill that we develop by training and practice.
Productivity requires intention and strategy to help make your
time work for you!
Let’s begin by examining time killers that make us less productive.
We will discuss tips and techniques to help improve your focus.
Indentify Focus Killers
Time killers are activities that distract us from what we really need
to do. They don’t contribute to helping us achieve our goals.
Time killing activities are “noise”. They are distractions that kill
our ability to focus. Laser focus requires to limit them as much as
possible while you are working.
The key to focus is to choose one task to do and get rid of the
rest. Anything that is not essential for completing that task is a
To help you get started on your journey on maximising
productivity, let’s identify those things that are distracting you
from completing your work.
Tomorrow morning when you start work, try taking a written (or
mental) note of every time you stop from what you are currently
working on to do something, then come back to your work. Keep
Once they are identified, let’s write those activities down to put in
our plan later. We will look for ways to set boundaries to prevent
it from happening in the future. Here are a few examples of the
most common distractions and how they affect our ability to stay
Your Mobile Device/Phone
It is with you when you wake up, while you are driving, in
meetings, at dinner, and by your bedside at night. Our mobile
devices have become another appendage to our bodies. Some
people find it difficult to be away from their phones, even for a
few minutes. Constant notifications from apps and texts can
quickly distract you, causing a delay in getting your attention
focused back on the task at hand.
To help us be more aware of our phone usage, some mobile
devices (like the iPhone) will track home many times you pick up
your phone a day. This can be a scary number to see. Once you
are aware of how many times you pick up your phone to check
notifications, you can start making some adjustments to how
often you pick up your phone.
Some people use multi-tasking as a badge of honor to feel
accomplished. That person may feel that the busier they are, the
more things they are getting done. The truth is we can work on
more than one thing at a time, just not as well.
When we can focus on one task at a time, we can give it our full
focus. It takes time for our brains to switch between tasks which
results in time wasted. Focus on the completion of tasks rather
than getting many tasks done quickly. How often are you multi-
tasking? Write down if you feel multi-tasking helps you feel
Social Media Traps
Have you ever fallen into the rabbit hole of YouTube or become
so engaged with Instagram that you found yourself there for
hours? It happens often. The chemical rewards we get from our
brain when we get likes and comments on our posts keep us
As consumers, we enjoy viewing the millions of videos and
content posted every day. However, if we are working this is a
hindrance to our productivity. The best way to stop this time killer
is to set boundaries for social media.
∎ Put time on your calendar for checking/posting social media.
maybe in the evening an hour before bedtime.
∎ Use the time limit features on the apps to set daily time
limits. This will help you realize when you are past your limit.
∎ Turn off your social media notifications. Only check your
social media during your scheduled time.
Putting Too Much on Your Calendar
Do you ever feel the need to fill up every time slot on your
calendar? There is no reward in having a calendar full of events.
Too much of a schedule can hinder your ability to complete the
most important things to get done for the day.
To limit distractions, make sure only essential events are placed
on your calendar. A final product review with your team or doctor
appointments are examples of events that are essential to attend.
Most of us know the events we must attend. Allow the rest of the
time to work toward your goals. This gives you the flexibility to be
able to complete your tasks in however long it takes. This brings
us to the next big time killer!
Not Learning How to Say No
Many people struggle with approval addiction or have a difficult
time telling people no. This leads to having more things to put on
your schedule than you need or want. To start taking back your
time, it means having to turn down invitations from people you
care about. Sometimes it means turning down meeting requests.
Your time and energy are valuable. If you don’t respect it, then
other people will not either. The best thing to do is, to be honest
with them. Let me know you are working on an important project
and will get back in touch with them later.
It is hard to say no; however, it is a necessity when you need to
focus. Find ways to collaborate with others using methods like
email, online conferencing or conference calls in place of
Do you have a time-waster not listed here? Make sure you jot
those down in your plan so that you are mindful of them. Let’s
create barriers around those distractions to help you stay focused
on completing the important tasks of the day.