Last month, we talked about focus. This month, we’re discussing freedom and how your job impacts your personal and professional freedoms. We wrote about Baseball, Lightning Bugs, and Fireworks - and the freedom to pursue your passions. Now we want to talk about the freedom to focus. Does your workplace limit your freedom to focus, making it more difficult for you to accomplish your objectives and achieve your goals? We’ve been there. Here are some ways you can regain your freedom to focus at work.
Ding! A new email. Ding! An urgent text message. And don’t get me started on the numerous project management software options out there - while they all have good intentions, and can be used to make our work lives much easier, often they become another layer of bureaucracy and a place where good ideas go to die.
And then the phone rings, and you’re 10 minutes late for your next meeting… lather, rinse, repeat.
Research shows that knowledge workers are interrupted a staggering 20 times an hour. That’s why we end up spending almost two-thirds of our day just managing our work, not actually doing it.
Does this describe you? Do you leave work feeling like you accomplished far less than you should in 8, 9, 10 or more hours? It it impossible to even gain a moment’s peace in your office?
If so, you’re not alone. But you’re also not doomed to spend your remaining years at work trying to survive the chaos. Here are three steps to getting your freedom to focus back:
Set your priority for the day. Notice that I didn’t say priorities. I truly mean only one: not your entire to-do list, but the one primary thing you need to accomplish that day. Give yourself an hour or more to accomplish this first (research shows that your most productive time of the day is within two hours of waking up). The rest of your workday will flow much more smoothly when you’re not worried about getting back to your most important work after multiple interruptions.
Shut everything else down. Close email, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, and close your browsers unless you need them for research. It is so easy to get pulled off by an erroneous text. It’s equally dangerous to find yourself somewhat stuck in accomplishing your priority and popping over to another tab in your browser for a “break” - disappearing down a rabbit hole of articles that have nothing to do with your task at work for 50 minutes (who, me?).
If and only if it helps you, implement some productivity tools. I’ve said before that the tools you use are only as good as you are. Once you have set your priority and arranged your workspace to minimize distractions, productivity software can be a huge help. Make sure whatever tool you use goes with you, across platforms and on the go. Try out a few, and if it doesn’t fit, don’t try to force it. Pick a tool or two, and stick with it.
Set your priority, eliminate potential distractions, and use the tools available to give yourself the freedom to focus.
Interested in learning how to apply focus strategies to your team, streamline workflow and optimize output? Contact us today to learn more about our work with companies and nonprofits.