How to Stay Focused

Learning how to stay focused takes practice. It would be wonderful if each day we knocked out each item of our to do list in less than two hours, took time to meditate, and then got in a hardcore workout all before noon.

Yes, this would be lovely, but as far as we know, this isn’t the norm for anyone on the planet. After all, humans are not robots! The magic is in achieving the right balance of work and rest to stay focused to get epic stuff done.

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How to Stay Focused at Work?

Knowing how to stay focused at work is necessary to ensure you get in and out and still have time to take care of your personal life. It is beyond easy to get side-tracked at work and lose an hour of productivity while barely blinking. In this work-from-home environment that has less built-in accountability, staying focused can be even trickier.

So how do you stay focused and motivated at work? Here are our top tips:

  1. Eat your vegetables. Just like your parents probably tried to get you to eat those green leafies prior to moving on to dessert! In the same way, you should identify and complete those things that you have to get done on a given day first thing in the morning. Do the hard things first.

Research shows that we are most productive and attentive in the morning. Knowing that, we should ensure that those things we have to get done get done first thing. It is all too easy to put them off in the afternoon when our energy lags and other pressing matters cross our desks.

  1. Create a to-do list for your next day the day prior. This is very helpful as you can hit the ground running in the morning when you know what you have to do immediately. Pro tip: highlight the one or two things that absolutely must be done and start with those.
  2. Train that brain to focus. Brain training is required when you are learning how to stay focused and motivated. You may not be able to stay focused for a solid hour to start. Set a timer for 10 minutes and focus on only one to-do list item. Once you are able to stay focused for 10 minutes regularly, move to 15 minutes.

The idea is to train your brain to be able to focus for an extended period of time and to take breaks in between these sessions. Just like you may not be able to dead-lift 100 pounds right away at the gym, your brain may need training to get used to focusing and staying on task.

How To Stay Focused On Goals

Staying focused on your goals will help you to stay on task. There are a few ways you can ensure you remember the big picture as you take steps towards longer term goals.

  1. Mentally picture your end goal. Imagine what it is like to reach your goals. How do you feel and what did you gain? This mind game will help you remember why you are working to stay focused each day.
  2. Take time daily to remind yourself why you are working so hard to reach your goals. Employ your mental picture 5 minutes per day.
  3. Celebrate milestone successes along the way. Reaching large goals will probably take time so you need to establish milestones along the way ahead of reaching large goals. As you reach each milestone, celebrate it and how far you have come towards reaching your goal.

How to Stay Focused Working from Home

Working from home can be ripe with distractions. A screeching pet bird, kids needing food during summer break, or a fellow work-from home roomie. When learning how to stay on task and be focused, working from home involves coming up with a game to ensure success.

All of our tips above for staying focused at work still apply while working from home, but you will need to add some additional steps to be successful while working at home. Here are a few of our top tips on how to stay focused working from home:

  1. Have a dedicated workspace (preferably with a door). When you enter this space, your brain will know if it is there to work. It should be free of distractions.

Establish and enforce office hours at home. Let those in the home with you know that you are working and when or why you may be interrupted.

  1. Setting these expectations will go a long way with ensuring you are interrupted as little as possible. Consistent office hours will provide a guideline for when you are working and will help you to try to separate your home and work life as much as you can.
  2. Take breaks. You need to take breaks to refuel with food, drink coffee (research shows that drinking coffee in moderation helps productivity) and clear your mind. You are not a robot and do need to enforce self-care so you remain healthy both physically and mentally while working from home.

Get dressed. Okay, we aren’t suggesting you wear your dress shoes, but do shower and put on something other than pajamas. You will feel more productive if you look the part of someone working for the day, plus you will be ready for any unanticipated Zoom calls or needed coffee runs.

Staying Focused – Practice Makes Perfect (Well, Better)

Staying motivated, focused and on task is possible with the right framework and dedication to making focused work habitual. It is so easy to let distractions and other people’s “emergencies” get in the way of focused work. It is critical that you set yourself up for success each day by following the above tips to help you stay focused!


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Filed Under: Consulting skills, Corporate Training