Developing your ability to have laser focus in the workplace is an essential ingredient for a successful career.
The good news is that it’s a skill you can learn and develop.
Laser focus takes practice and the more you do it the stronger it will become.
“What fires together wires together.” Donald Hebb, Canadian Neuropsychologist
I recommend that you utilise every chance you have to develop your focusing skills.
You can do this both at work and at home. Try being laser focused on your spouse or partner when they are talking to you, instead of thinking about other things or being distracted.
Here are my top 10 tips on how you can practice, develop and strengthen your ability to focus at work.
#1 STOP MULTI-TASKING
Trying to do two things at once means you’re dividing your attention and energy which eliminates your chance of achieving 100% of your potential result on any one thing you do is wiped out.
What kind of results do you want to achieve? Average, mediocre or outstanding?
If you’re struggling to focus stop multi-tasking immediately and watch your results and achievement soar!
For example: If you’re ‘sort of’ listening to someone while really reading an email on your screen you run the risk of agreeing to something you don’t even know you’re agreeing to! This can cause major issues in your workplace. Plus it immediately shows disrespect to the person, that you don’t have time or the care to stop what you’re doing and listen to them. You will have poor working relationship if you multi-task on this one…
Now I’m all for multi-tasking sometimes (and I stress ONLY SOMETIMES) for example:
1. Catching up with friends while walking to socialize and exercise at the same time or,
2. Turning your travel time into a learning environment, by listening to audio books while on the train or driving.
3. Listening and dancing to music while cleaning your house!
BUT still if I really want to do something outstandingly well, I will turn on my laser focus skills and apply 100% of my attention and energy to get my best results. I recommend that you do too.
#2 OBSERVE WHAT DISTRACTS YOU
If you develop a laser focus you can block all of these things out. Trust me, once I sat at a desk which was located right at the main door. I decided to switch on, my all time best laser focusing skills because I knew my boss wasn’t paying me to sit there and say hello to everyone who walked past all day long.
Usually the majority of your distractions are in your mind i.e. your thoughts which are not on the present moment or on the current task at hand.
Your mind may wonder, thinking about all the other tasks you need to do next, worse you’re too busy judging what others around you are doing or not doing and this only clogs up your brain space. Either deal with it, i.e. any issues that are on your mind by effective communication with that person, or let it go and focus on YOUR work.
#3 SET UP YOUR ENVIRONMENT SO IT SUPPORTS YOU
Turn your phone on silent and put it in the bottom drawer, close down applications you don’t need right now and tidy up your workplace for if you work in a chaotic environment chances are your mind is chaotic as well.
#4 COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS IN YOUR TEAM
Communicate with your team members and others in the office to find out what you might be doing that distracts them, and share ideas to help everyone in your office develop excellent focusing skills.
Having laser focus in the workplace doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t stop to help others or enjoy a little bit of social time too. It’s all about balance.
You can educate your fellow office workers when you are about to go into your laser focus zone. I love using this approach which teaches others when is a good time to ask for your help and when to avoid interrupting you. You can use this example:
“Hey everyone I just want to check in to see if any of anyone will need me in the next 2 hours. I’m about to concentrate on a detailed piece of work in this time, so if you have any questions for me, I can either help you now before I start or afterwards, which will be at 3pm.”
People will either catch you now or say 3pm is great for me I have a few questions for you then.
Agree to that time and then get into your focus zone. If that person attempts to interrupt you after 10mins, do not get frustrated! Simply answer with something like this:
“I’d love to help you out with that, however as discussed, I’m currently focused on X task right now up until 3pm. Is it ok if I help you at 3pm or has something come up that is urgent and I need to help you with right now?”
If it’s urgent, good you want to know and help out, if not, you’re just letting the person know that you take your focus time seriously. It’s not that you won’t help them, but there are times set for when it’s best for you, to both help them and get your work done each day as well.
TIP: At 3pm stop what you’re doing, even if you haven’t finished because you want to be true to your word. Go over to the person and let them know that as agreed, you’re ready to help them now.
Chances are they are not ready! If so, just smile and remind them 3pm was agreed, they will hurry up and not fail to be ready for you next time.
The last thing you want to do is not follow up on your promise, because then others will not trust you that you will help them, when you put them off to another time.
#5 LISTEN TO MUSIC WITHOUT LYRICS
This is a common way for open plan office workers to block out distractions from others.
These are all the rage now, with people wanting more peace, quiet and tranquility in the world. You may see people walking around in airports, busy train stations and even open plan workplaces to block out noise and distractions for peace and quiet.
This can be a good alternative to asking others around you to be quiet, or listening to music when you just want peace.
#7 GET A GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP, EAT WELL & EXERCISE DAILY
It’s difficult to focus when you’re tired, dehydrated, hungry or feeling lethargic. Get out for a quick brisk walk to get your energy flowing before sitting down to focus on your work.
Taking regular breaks between focus times helps too.
#8 DON’T ALLOW YOUR STRENGTHS TO BECOME WEAKNESSES
If one of your strengths is attention to detail or making things perfect, sometimes these strengths can get in the way of delivering your work in a timely manner.
Be careful that you’re not letting your work performance down by spending too much time trying to make something perfect or getting off track zoning in on minor, sometimes unnecessary details that take you away from seeing the bigger picture and ultimate goal you’re trying to achieve.
Perhaps you love helping others, be careful that you’re not too busy stopping to help others all day long that your own work is at risk of being done.
#9 TRAIN YOUR BRAIN
First, get crystal clear on EXACTLY what you want to focus on and do in this moment and for the next e.g. 90 minutes. Then every time your mind wonders off… thinking about another task, bring your focus back to the task at hand.
As you commit to doing this, you will build the strength of your focusing powers until they become a natural and easy way in which you work.
#10 SET TIMERS & YOUR OWN STEEP DEADLINES
Establish how long you think a task should take you, or set yourself a new target to complete it in, check the clock and stay committed to completing the task in that time.
You will be surprised that for every 5 minute interruption or distraction, it can completely wipe out that latest hour in your day of doing real focused work.
It’s up to you how you spend your time!
Studies show that when a person is distracted, even if for only 5 minutes it takes them 25 minutes to get back into flow. Only to be interrupted again within the next half an hour, people in the workplace often can expect to have only 2 hours of real work time!
Research also shows that people will take as long a time as they have, to get the job done. That’s why when we have big looming deadlines we can work fast with focus and literally move mountains! This is because we know we do not have time to think about or be distracted by anything. When workflow is slow, we slow down right along with it.
What I do here is set myself my own tight deadline with a reward once achieved, so I’m not left wondering where on earth the week went and feelings as though I barely got anything done.
No wonder so many people leave work feeling as though they didn’t really get anything or enough done. Let’s change that, with encouraging and developing laser focus, high productivity and efficient brains in your team!
Live Your Best Life
Jacqueline Pigdon, The LOVE MONDAYS Expert is an Australian rowing champion, a spiritual life & career coach, author and award winning entrepreneur! Beginning her career in corporate IT and as an elite sports person she knows firsthand how to achieve goals and make a successful and fulfilling career transition. Jacqueline has dedicated her life to helping other women all around the world do the same and create a career and life they love!
To get a copy of Jacqueline’s BOOK ‘Love Mondays Now – 5 Steps to a career & life you love CLICK HERE!