By Megan Rowe
Whether you work from home or in the office, each setting offers its own forms of distractions. Remote work allows you to work from the comfort of your own home, but also tempts you with your personal possessions and possibly family members, loved ones, or animals. Alternatively, the office opens up the possibility of chatting with co-workers and noisy surroundings.
How can some employees focus all day long while others struggle to complete their daily tasks?
The difference between those who have great focus and those who get easily distracted is their daily routine. Focused employees likely have detailed lists, schedules, and tricks that help them achieve their productivity status. There are some common tasks you can add to your daily routine to increase your focus and productivity during the workweek.
Keep a To-Do List
If you keep a running list of the tasks you intend to complete by the end of the day or week you will feel more accountable for them and, therefore, more focused on completing them in a timely manner. A to-do list will also keep you grounded, meaning you will remain focused on the task at hand before jumping into a new task. Being able to check tasks off your list throughout the day will also give you a sense of accomplishment, which will drive you to complete more.
Each employee has their own form of a to-do list, whether it be written in a planner, separated into a spreadsheet, or tracked on an online calendar. There is no right or wrong way to track your tasks because employees typically respond to different forms of organization and motivation. Figure out the most effective way to track your weekly tasks by using a resource that you will check daily. This can include your Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar, which allows you to track your tasks in a daily, weekly, or monthly format. This can be very useful as your meeting schedules are likely linked to this calendar already and they can be accessed through your computer or smartphone, so you will always be connected. On the other hand, you can use a datebook or a planner to keep track of your daily tasks in an analog form. This can also be very beneficial as it has been proven that writing tasks down can help you remember them more easily. Whichever path you choose, make sure it’s one that you will stick to day in and day out. Once you start tracking your tasks more diligently, you will perform better.
Today, with smartphones, the internet, and social media at the tips of your fingers, it’s very easy to get distracted while performing any task. When it comes to distractions while working it’s best to look at it subjectively. Although it’s intriguing to have complete and utter focus on a single task for as long as you desire, it isn’t very likely. Things come up throughout the day whether it be an email, a last minute meeting, a text message, or a social media notification. You can’t be expected to completely disconnect from everything during work hours and once you accept that you can adjust accordingly.
Instead, plan your distraction time by using the 45/15 model. Plan to focus on the task at hand for 45 minutes or until completed and then reward yourself with a 15-minute break, where you can enjoy unstructured free-time meant for you to relax and recharge. This has the potential to drive your focus and productivity because you will be working towards a rewarding break after completing your task. The key to this activity is to keep yourself accountable. Once you set a goal or rule, you shouldn’t break it unless absolutely necessary.
Protect Your Eyes
Recently, more employees have been experiencing eye strain while working, which can be a result of overworking or increased use of computers. Employees are engaging with computers more often in 2021 than ever before and have been working more often since quarantine began. This is likely associated with remote work and employees bringing work home with them or increased digital device use overall due to quarantine. Either way, employee eye strain can have severe effects on focus and productivity, so it’s important that employees take precautions to avoid this condition in 2021.
Employee eyestrain is a common condition that occurs when your eyes get tired from intense use, such as staring at computer screens and other digital devices. In order to overcome this employees should:
- Blink more often to moisten your eyes
- Wear contacts or use eye drops to increase moisture and decrease blurred vision
- Take breaks from looking at screens and let your eyes rest
- Limit glare or reflection on screens to protect your eyes
You can take breaks from screens by practicing the 45/15 model mentioned above and avoid glare and reflections by adjusting the lighting and positioning of your computer screen at your workstation. If you wear glasses, you might consider switching to or alternating between glasses and contact lenses. Wearing daily contact lenses can moisten and refresh the eyes in ways that eyeglasses cannot, which can help reduce discomfort during the workday. Keeping your eyes hydrated can combat many of the symptoms of eyestrain, such as sore, tired, burning, itching, watery, or dry eyes, while also decreasing blurred or double vision. If you do not wear glasses but are still interested in hydrating your eyes during the day, you can use daily eye drops to do the trick. Eye drops can relieve eye strain, stress and irritants while also nourishing and healing the eyes and the nerves surrounding the eyes.
Making changes to your daily routine to increase focus and productivity in 2021 will greatly benefit each and every employee. However, no employee is exactly the same, which means you need to find the right structure and resources for yourself. What works for your co-workers may not benefit you—take the time to determine your ideal strategy and you will see results sooner rather than later.
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2000 episodes.
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