How to Maintain a Laser-Like Focus
It’s another busy workweek and you are rushing around, barely having time to eat and try to finish everything in one go.
All of a sudden, your boss waves a familiar looking paper in your face, and he yells, “Who wrote this trash?” Seems like that report you passed last week were full of holes and inconsistencies. After all that effort, you have to do it over again.
Stop and think. It might be that little mistakes that pile up can be traced to your lack of focus. With time pressure and a mountain load of tasks to do, you may be cramming everything into a single shot.
In a busy person’s workday, it’s hard to maintain laser-like focus. A hundred to a thousand interruptions trouble them everyday. These insignificant interruptions may very well be the reason why you are always hurrying to finish tasks by the end of the day, leaving not enough time to take care of yourself.
Here are five common-and-tried and tested tricks to maintain your focus and use your time more effectively:
1. Set a target
After you’re given a task, you must immediately set a time frame to finish it. Saying “I’ll do it after lunch” isn’t going to cut it.
So instead of general time expressions like that, you need to think differently. Say, “If I start on this by 1 p.m., I’ll be able to finish it in two to three hours so I’ll work on it up to 4 p.m.”
Also, it will be a great help if you keep a calendar by your desk. List all you need to accomplish in each day, including tasks like going to the bank or other places. Again, remember to set time frames. This will enable you to look at each task one at a time and will ensure that you do not forget any. There are people who find great enjoyment in crossing out things they’ve finished from their list of tasks. You might be one.
2. Manage your interruptions
With the multitude of interruptions, you might really want to know how to manage them. Trying to refocus after an interruption will take effort and time that you wouldn’t want to waste. Try keeping a log of interruptions you have in a day. List down who, what, when, where, how. After listing them down, you need to evaluate which interruptions are valid and urgent and which are those that can be ignored.
If you get a lot of calls per day, you might want to invest in an assistant who would screen calls for you so you don’t get needlessly interrupted. If this is not possible, try to get voice mail to check your calls for you.
Also, you might also want to inform people of your availability. If you really need to focus intensely on a project, you can put up a ‘Do not disturb’ sign on your door or desk.
3. Take small, frequent breaks
Working long hours with no time for breaks or food will cause health problems in the future. Many people refuse to take a break because they fear that doing so will make them lose their drive.
The key here is to take frequent yet short breaks. For example, if you are working non-stop in front of a computer terminal, you can take a 5 minute break every hour or so. Turn-off the monitor, relax on your seat, and close your eyes. You can also stretch a little and work out the kinks in your shoulders and arms.
Five-minute breaks can do wonders. Not only do these provide you with a much needed rest, these allow you time to reorganize your thoughts and even spot mistakes in what you are doing.
4. Say No and Mean It
A friend swings by the office and asks you out for lunch. You said, “No, I really need to finish this.” The said friend whines that you hardly see each other.
Try this. Look straight into your friend’s eyes and say, “I’m sorry. But I really need to finish it now.” Put as much determination as you can into your voice without appearing to be angry. Do not be swayed by a pout or tears. After all, you can always promise to meet with your friend later, after you’ve finished.
5. Get enough sleep
After a long day, you need to unwind and relax. Once you get home, eat well, watch some TV, and then get to bed. You might want to leave the partying until dawn for another day. Enough sleep will ensure that you don’t get sluggish and sleepy the next morning. This will also help you maintain your focus as you get through another hectic day.
These are just some of the many techniques that you can try. These will certainly help maintain a laser-like focus in your work!