We've all been there; you get to the office early, intending to make a start and get through a pile of work that needs your attention but suddenly all that time you had planned out for hard work is slipping away because of distractions going on around you and taking you away from what you really need to be doing. The good news is, you can learn to shut out some of these distractions and with slight changes to your usual way of working you can structure your day for maximum productivity and get that essential project finished with minimal stress. We can all have little time wasting habits that we aren't even aware of and even five or ten minutes of distraction here and there can add up and make a big difference over the course of a working week. Read on for 6 tips that will help you eliminate those annoying distractions around you and help you to squeeze the maximum amount of productivity from your day.
#1 Eat a decent breakfast and stay hydrated throughout the day
Your concentration levels will be decreased when you're hungry, and a lack of energy isn't ideal when you have work to do. Going without breakfast is also likely to leave you with low blood sugar and irritability as the morning wears on. For maximum energy, a bowl of granola or muesli with fresh fruit, nuts and seeds is ideal - it will keep hunger pangs at bay and your blood sugar levels steady
#2 Clear your desk leaving only the items you need
The only items on your desk should be essential to what you are currently working on. This stops you getting distracted unnecessarily when you need to focus on the task in hand and also keeps your desk space tidy so you aren't constantly having to move things around to find what you need: searching for the one piece of paper you need within the piles on your desk can be both time consuming and irritating, but can be easily avoided by keeping what you need to hand on a clear desk.
#3 Find the most effective method of tackling your to-do list
If you have a couple of large tasks you need to complete as well as a lot of other smaller tasks that will also take up your time, have a think about the most efficient way for you to tackle them. Some people prefer to start their day by getting as many of the small tasks out of the way in the morning as they can so they instantly feel they have achieved something and then feel more ready to tackle the bigger task. The science behind this lies in a chemical called dopamine - when you complete a task, your body releases this chemical which gives you the feeling of being 'rewarded ' and can result in feeling energised
and ready to get on with even more work and lots of little tasks being completed quickly means more dopamine being released. Other people may prefer to get straight on with the large task or the one they are least looking forward to, get it out of the way and enjoy the rest of the day at a slightly less strenuous pace; this is an equally useful method, and the most important thing is to find what works for you and stick to it where you can.
#4 Set specific time aside for dealing with emails
This one may be hard to stick to! If you are able to however, it is guaranteed you will immediately start to use your available time more efficiently. The temptation is always there to respond to an email as soon as it comes in but this again is a distraction, and be honest - is it usually vital that you send a response straight away? The most time-effective way of dealing with your inbox is to set specific times in your day aside to go through your emails instead of stopping what you are working on to instantly respond to everything. Again, experiment until you find a method that works for you. You may want to set aside some time first thing in the morning, and then again after lunch and then a check before you go home. Some people may find it more helpful to start working on other tasks for an hour and get some of them out of the way before logging onto their email; the most effective method for dealing with it will depend on what your workload usually looks like and whether you tend to have a lot of emails that require a response in a short amount of time.
#5 Get out for some fresh air and exercise at lunch time
It might make you feel more productive when you stay at your desk and eat lunch instead of getting away for a while, but the opposite is actually true. Spending some time in the fresh air at dinnertime is good for you, particularly if you work in an air-conditioned or stuffy office. The daylight will make you feel more awake and a brisk walk will reduce your stress levels and release endorphins, raising your energy levels and making you feel much more ready for whatever the afternoon throws at you!
#6 If you can't complete a task, move onto the next one
It can be very frustrating when you have a to-do list that needs completing and then a problem comes along which means you can't get something on it done. Instead of worrying about when you will be able to get it done and how it's going to impact you down the line, just move on. There's no point raising your stress levels and wasting more time when you can move onto the next item and get something else done instead.
So there you have it - 6 easy ways to keep your focus at work and hit-your maximum amount of productivity even in a busy, stressful environment. Remember, at the end of the day try to leave your desk nice and clear and also try not to take your work worries home with you. If you find yourself worrying about work issues in the evening when you should be relaxing, try keeping a small notebook to hand and write them down, which will help you to worry about them less. Finally, relax and have a good night sleep - this is the single biggest thing that will impact on your productivity for the next day!