Driven to Success: Five Tips for Staying Focused
With all the amazing improvements technology has afforded modern society, the biggest detriment is distraction. While you may have laughed at Dori in “Finding Nemo” for her short attention span, you might not be far from that place yourself.
Distraction is Expensive
A study by Basex in 2009 noted that on average a person is distracted and interrupted from work totaling 2.1 hours every day, which amounts to almost $600 billion lost each year. Other statistics show that the typical employee will spend eleven seconds on a new project before getting distracted and then spend twenty-five minutes before getting back to the task at hand.
Here are five tips that will give you the best chance at success during your work day.
- Prioritize your tasks. With a massive to-do list that never seems to shrink, do the important things first. It’s easy to want to knock out a bunch of little unimportant tasks before starting on the hard jobs, but those will only detract from what really needs to get done.
- Clear away distractions, not a few, not some, but all distractions! With each doodle on the page or each minute of checking Twitter or reading ESPN statistics, your goal is being pushed further away. If your co-worker will notice that you took down the bobble-head collection he’s given you, then find a way to cover it up for certain blocks of time. Focus is what makes you stronger.
- Block out the noise and find the right music. Noise-canceling headphones are a gift to your sanity. Whether you’re stuck in the airport waiting for your flight or just trying to silence your chatty co-worker, get a pair of headphones and, if you must have noise, find the perfect mix of music to channel your distraction-prone self into being the best you can be.
- Take an occasional break. Staying “on” all the time is a good thought but unrealistic. Give yourself a coffee break or a few minutes to chat about the game last night or to call your mom back. Do something that is not related to work to reward yourself for finishing a task or allow yourself time to think through a problem that has your stuck. Instead for every hour of work, grant yourself a fifreen minute break.
- Finally, use technology to your advantage. Phone and computer apps have been designed to make your life easier. Make good use of that. If having other screens up while you work is a problem, get the app that blacks out everything but what you are working on. Do you know that you will give in to the Pinterest urge? Find an app that blocks access to all social media while you work.
At the end of the day your performance is measured based on how much closer you move toward your goals by staying focused. Give yourself the best opportunity for success by intentionally and strategically limiting distractions.
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