How to Focus: 5 Styles to Overcome Distractions at Work


When I was a sophomore in college, I developed a terrible addiction to Facebook. By the time finals week arrived, I couldnat run 30 minutes without a dose of puppy videos.

I was officially confused. And after a week of all-nighters, I realized my attention span was inferior to a squirrelas.

Checking my RescueTime dashboard had reaffirmed that I could only concentrate on confusing videos a | and not my volumes. I had expended 50% of the week on Facebook, which entails I couldave actually slept before each quiz. Why couldnat I focus on my examines during the most critical time of the school year?

Distractions can infest any place of work. They might seem tiny in the grand strategy of things, but when compounded together, they can ravage your productivity. In fact, entire companies lose 31 hours per week to attention-sucking activities. Thatas like losing the contributions of a whole employee.

Fortunately, Iave researched some science-backed tips-off for maintaining focus, interviewed HubSpot employees about their concentration habits, and fleshed out the deepest insights in this blog post. So take a look at these five productivity hacks to effectively overcome distractions and remain laser-focused at work.

How to Focus at Run: 5 Productivity Hacks

1) Scheme the work day around one main project.

Do you “eat the frog” first thing in the morning? Or do you simply plop it on your desk and let it fester, reminding you that the worst part of the day is still yet to arrived?

Prioritizing your main project ahead of lesser undertakings on your to-do list is crucial for productivity . Humans possess a cognitive bias towards completing as many tasks as is practicable — because regardless of magnitude, finishing something always feels amazing.

This is why we tend to work on a lot of easy, short tasks first, while putting our main project on the back burner.

Crossing things off your listing is addicting. But donat give into the temptation of completing the simple tasks first. Since theyare short and quick, you can easily finish them at the end of the day. Your major tasks have much more pressing deadlines and require a lot of hour and endeavour. So do the big tasks first to avoid scrambling through them last minute.

Jami Oetting, who manages HubSpotas content strategy team, schemes her week out so she can eat the frog every morning.

aI start the week listing off all my priorities prior to my team’s weekly stand-up session on Monday. This is my time to consider all the projects the team is working on, what needs to get done by the end of the week, and how I could be most effective, a she says. aThen, I map out the tasks that need more focus or larger chunks of time to accomplish. After prioritizing this list, I’ll block off time on my calendar to accomplish one abiga project each morning.a

Your brainas peak performance period starts two hours after you wake up, and lasts until lunch period. So why garbage these optimal morning hours on things you could do in your sleep?

The end of the working day is also the worst day for doing meaningful run . Youave already depleted your daily energy on an smorgasbord of trivial chores. So when itas time to chip away at your main project, youall either drown in complacency completing it or set if off until the next day, repeating a vicious cycle of procrastination.

2) Block the obvious distractions for greater focus.

Your phone buzzes. A new like on Instagram! Did the picture get as many likes on Facebook? You click to open a new tab. The funniest Chevy ad spoof is the first post on your newsfeed. This is must-see content.

20 minutes later, youare reading an article about Mark Zuckerberg operating for chairman when your administrator strolls by your desk. Which reminds you a | your blog post is due tomorrow. And all youave written is the meta description.

Does this sound familiar? Well, youare not alone because it happens to everyone. Itas also the reason why it takes 23 minutes for people to refocus on their original task after an interruption. Distractions breed more distractions.

So right when you walk into the office, throw your phone in your desk drawer and keep it there the working day. Lock it up if you can. And download a site blocker like Block Site or StayFocusd to restrict access from all the websites that veer you off the path of productivity.

Even email, which is supposed to streamline the day, sidetracks you. In fact, we spend 20.5 hours of our run week reading and answering emails. Thatas half of our work week! So if an uptick in unread emails always seems to seduce you away from your current undertaking, donat open your Gmail tab in the morning.

Remember, unless itas an absolute emergency, you can respond to anyoneas email within a few hours. So designate time blocks for internal communication. This way, you can channel your undivided attention on a major project and slash the time wasted switching from one task to another.

Sophia Bernazzani, a faculty writer for HubSpotas Marketing Blog, blocks off day for both email and Slack to maintain her concentration throughout the day.

aIt’s impossible to focus if I have too many incoming notifications. So I commit to only answering emails at the beginning and end of my day, a she says. aI also set myself as offline on Slack and snooze my notifications to minimize distractions when I’m working and save the lives for when I’m taking a breaking between tasks.a

3) Take short breaks.

Do you pride yourself on lunch being your merely break? Do you believe apportioning the rest of your attention on work is the only way to achieve optimal productivity?

Well, according to researchers at the University of Illinois, constantly working without a break actually hampers concentration over day. Taking short breaks throughout the day is what sustains your focus.

“Constant stimulation is registered by our brains as unimportant, to the point that the brain erases it from our awareness, ” says Alejandro Lieras, the experiment’s leader. aAnd if sustained attention to a sensation constructs that sensation fade from our awareness, sustained attention to a thought should also lead to that thought’s disappearance from our mind! “

Lieras describes a psychological tendency called habituation. An instance of this is putting your shirt on in the morning and noticing the feeling of smooth cloth touching your skin. But after some time, your brain acclimates to the shirt and you wonat sense its softness anymore.

The same thing happens with work. Applying nonstop tunnel vision to a project actually withers your attention to it over time.

The brain is wired to recognize and react to change . So take mental breaks to let your brain distance itself from your work. When you return, youall perceive your current chore with a fresher lens and engage more deep with it.

Alicia Collins, a multimedia content strategist at HubSpot, considers mental rest a pivotal the members of the creative process.

aTaking short breaks throughout the day is a great way to sort out your priorities and boost your focus. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed or stuck on a particular issue, I take some time to eat lunch away from my desk or go for a walk around the block, a she says. aThese simple activities help clear my head and allowing me to to tackle problems from a new, creative angle.a

There are several productivity techniques that leverage short mental breaks, like the pomodoro technique, where you work for 25 minutes and then remainder for 5 minutes. A examine by the Draugiem Group also discovered that the employees with the highest productivity spent 52 minutes running, followed by 17 minutes of rest.

You can test each technique and stick to the one that enhances your focus and productivity the most.

4) Donat stuff yourself at lunch.

I have a love-hate relationship with the food coma. By noon everyday, Iam so starved that I gobble up the most filling snack I can find. It savor incredible. And after devouring my plate, I love placing my hands on my bloated belly, admiring the fact that Iam full and satisfied.

When itas time to get back to run, though, youall find me slumped in my chair. My brain feels like itas in a fog. So I only sit there and barely even attempt the easy tasks on my to-do list.

Eating rich dinners fulfills your starvation, but it also dulls your mental acuity. Your digestive system expends so much energy digesting all the fat and carbs that it chokes the circulation of oxygen to your brain. This devastates your ability to focus.

One way to defy a daily indulgence is to snack on lighting, healthy foods throughout the morning. This stabilizes your blood sugar and combats growling-stomach thirst. Youall notice youall eat fewer and select healthier options for lunch, allowing you to stay sharp for the rest of the day.

Karla Cook, a HubSpot Marketing Blog editor, usually fees a salad with whole grains and vegan protein for lunch, and avoids anything processed. Her motivation? To be productive in the afternoon, she needs to feel good.

aWhen you feed bad things, you feel bad. Itas pretty much instant retribution, a she tells. aEating a solid, healthy lunch is a super simple style to situated the course of your afternoon.a

5) Limit Auditory Distractions.

Background noise in the office — like colleague chatter or the clacking of a keyboard — can shatter concentration. According to several studies, ambient noise causes stress, which triggers a release of cortisol into your body.

Cortisol is designed to ease that initial stress, so your body can return to homeostasis. But too much cortisol interrupts your prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain that governs your ability to scheme, reason, and remember things.

These subtle, but potent noises will fracture your focus, so invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or find a quiet space to work.

Aja Frost, a staff writer for HubSpotas Sales Blog, likes to explore every nook and crannie of HubSpotas Cambridge office to find her own quiet spaces.

aI look for places that are somewhat tucked away, like a booth or a small table. These places are always genuinely quiet — and free from distraction, a she says. aWhen Iam ready for a more social ambiance, Iall go back to my desk or an area of the office that gets more people haphazardly walking by.a

How do you preserve your focus? Teach us your productivity hackers in the comments below !

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