Never before have had people at work had so many problems concentrating.
Constant email interruptions, ever burgeoning To Do Lists, and the increasingly frantic pace of business have made it well nigh impossible for many to sit and focus for solid blocks of time.
There are two sub sets of Focus – avoiding being interrupted and being able to focus when you have some time available to think.
In this column I’m going to show you some effective ways to solve both.
WAYS TO AVOID BEING INTERRUPTED.
The first way is attitudinal. You have to make more of a stand with people who come into your office area and break your concentration. You must spend a month re-educating them and coaching them.
Literally say “Hey, do you mind if we talk about this a bit later? I’m in the middle of something.” Then suggest an alternative time.
Or even better, say “I’m in the middle of something right now, going forward how about we email each other if we want a chat so that we can make a time that works for both of us.”
This won’t be easy at first, but I have found if you keep saying it, after a few weeks people get the message and stop dropping by without warning.
The second way to avoid interruptions is geographical. Move to a place where it’s much harder to find you.
Work more in meeting rooms on other floors. Block out a half day a week to work at home.
Spend the morning at the coffee shop down the street. Staying at your desk all day is just asking to be bothered by every second person who walks past you.
Now let’s look at the second part of focus; your own ability to concentrate.
WAYS TO CONCENTRATE BETTER.
When you do get that precious quiet hour or so to work you need to make sure you make the most of it. Here are a few good methods of doing that.
Switch off your email – it takes real willpower for most people to not open an interesting email when it pops onto their screen. Don’t tempt fate; turn your email off before you begin that important job.
Use a timer – this is one of my favorite methods. Set the timer on your phone to the exact amount of time you have available. Just knowing your time is running out greatly increases your concentration level. You dawdle less and work more.
Play Baroque music – As Dr. Georgi Lozanov (the pioneer of accelerated learning) famously proved over 20 years ago, people concentrate better when they have Baroque music playing nearby (earphones may be necessary).
Consume Omega 3 supplements – many experts believe that a diet with ample Omega 3 fatty acids not only improves your mood (as Harvard Medical School’s Maclean Hospital discovered) it can also improve your ability to concentrate.
Society isn’t getting any slower. If you’re serious about maximizing your time at the office, you need to get hard core about improving your focus. The best business marketing techniques above will help you do exactly that.