A limited attention span, restlessness and distractibility are all signs that you are not being your most effective at work. But the good news is that there is something you can do about it. These following do-it-yourself tasks will help you to improve not only your concentration but the total effectiveness of your entire workday. Are you ready to get more done in less time?
Taking Control of Your Concentration to Increase Your Production
First things first - make an honest list of your biggest distractions.
For many people it’s the internet, such as nonessential emails and social media, their phone, conversations with co-workers, breaking often for food, working in noisy offices and more. Half of any battle is recognizing and prioritizing what your biggest distractions are. Doing this simple task will help you work toward managing them, as well as having them organized in your mind.
Once you have the list of major distractors created, make a plan to get them out of your workday. It is easier than it may seem. Simply set up boundaries and only allow the distractive activities during your least productive hours and in small qualities. For real estate agents, this means absolutely none of these distractors should be available to you during your lead generation time in the morning.
Put an autoresponder on your email to let colleagues know you are working on your ONE Thing and will respond to all emails later. If there is an emergency, they should call you.
Unless Facebook is a major lead generation machine for you, and that is the only activity you are doing while on the site during your lead generation time block, turn it off. You may set out to check one update, but before you know it, you have spent 30 minutes or more engaging in activity that isn’t helping you with your production.
Turning the phone off is a little tricky as it should always be available for emergencies. Turn off text sound notifications and only answer essential calls. You can set your voicemail message to let callers know when your window for return calls will be.
If you are in a collaborative work environment and find it hard to concentrate with the noise and socialization, seek out a quiet place to work on your most critical tasks for the day. If this means working from your home office where you know you cannot be interrupted, do it and then go into the office later.
Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.
Eliminating distractions is the first part of the battle. You need to remain focused on tasks once you are settled in to complete them. Tackle the highest priority first. Sometimes these projects are the ones we dislike doing the most. Putting them off leaves you with a lingering sense of dread and ineffectiveness. Finishing them off first and putting them behind you improves your organizational skills, and gives you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Avoid Email Rabbit Holes
In a world where text and email make up a majority of business communications, it is important to be able to identify when a phone call would make things easier. If you find yourself in an email chain on a single topic that is beyond three messages, consider making a phone call to wrap up the issue.
Time block to check email. Put aside chunks of time to not only read your email list, but organize it. Answer the most pertinent messages first and work your way down the list. This rids the feeling of being constantly tied to your computer and phone and prevents email distractions.
Maximize Your Calendar
First and foremost is time block. If it isn’t on your calendar, it doesn’t exist. Make sure all your daily tasks are allotted time on the calendar. Also, organize your calendar with category colors to separate tasks by work, home, recreation, etc. This will help you quickly scan and identify what you have for the day. Use alerts to remind and prepare yourself for upcoming events and deadlines.
Break It Off
Rome wasn’t built in a day and some of your projects won’t be completed in a day either. Compartmentalize those big projects. Breaking them down into tasks takes away the issues of size and scope and can prevent you from getting off track.
Create a designated work space and be consistent about using it. Having an environment that is specific and conducive to work will increase your tendency to stay focused.
If you share a work area or are in a highly distracting environment, use headphones to tune out office noise. This is also a universal sign to your co-workers that you are trying to focus. You can also place a sign up to let people know you are working on your ONE Thing and they should come back later.
Avoid the Trap of Multi-Tasking
Multi-tasking is tempting. It also leads to common mistakes, lack of attention to detail and, when it goes wrong, a colossal waste of time. Stick to one task at a time, most especially on the highest priority projects.
Take a Break
Our brains need to reset and relax. Good options for breaks include a short a walk, stretch, meditation, eating a healthy snack, etc.
Make Sense of Scents
The following essential oils are believed to have these qualities:
Pine – increases alertness
Cinnamon – improves focus
Lavender – is relaxing
Peppermint – is mood lifting and can help with headaches
Citrus – induces happiness