As someone who is part of a busy team, time will quickly become your most valuable strength. Unless you try and make the most of the time you have, you risk of losing momentum that you and your team have established together.
Being at work doesn't mean that you are fully focused on what you are supposed to be doing, there comes a time of the year when the volume of work becomes slightly more potent, and it's during these peak periods that you and your co-workers will experience huge spikes in productivity, burnouts, and general lack of focus.
Email distraction, unnecessary meetings, and work interruptions are the three big culprits that have caused thousands of U.S. businesses to lose tens of billions of dollars in employee salaries.
What can be done about this? You can start by implementing the following strategies and tips that will help you remain more focused, even when it feels like there is an infinite amount of projects that you have to juggle with.
Schedule time for complex tasks
Learning to use the calendar is like learning a new habit. The more you do it, the less alien it becomes, and scheduling time is one of the best habits that we can learn. In a world of distraction, where the use of mobile phones during work no longer needs to be justified, learning how to switch off from the constant flow of distractions is essential. Learn to schedule time, particularly for difficult problems.
We do our best work when we are in the zone. Yet if we persist with checking email every 5 minutes, or poking one of our co-workers about their choice of shirt that day, we lose our momentum. And instead of developing a healthy habit of being focused, we teach our mind that it is okay to be distracted 'once every few minutes', and those minutes quickly add up to hours, days, and so on.
Create time schedules for what you need to accomplish that day, that week, or that month. Take no less than 90 minutes for each task, and teach yourself how to switch off from the distractions, and instead enjoy the benefits of being in the flow. The more you do it, the far greater the results are going to be. You will feel good about yourself, and progress will be easy to recognize.
Create the space for being focused
Creating a time schedule is the first step. That's the foundation that you will create for the productive days ahead of you, but unless we really dedicate ourselves to the idea of getting more work done when there is more than usual to work with, we will keep falling back to the same patterns and habits that stop us from being fully focused.
What's the solution? Create a welcoming space for yourself in which you can feel safe to be productive. This could be as simple as cleaning your office desk from any clutter, shutting the blinds on your office door, or opening the window to let the flow of fresh air come in. It's the little things that make the biggest difference.
Another highly popular alternative to maintaining steady focus at the workplace is the Pomodoro Technique, a productivity technique that is used to break down big tasks into smaller ones by taking consistent short breaks. It’s very simple to get started with:
- Pick a task that needs to be accomplished.
- Set a pomodoro timer for 30 minutes.
- Work on the given task for the whole 30 minutes.
- Create a checklist of the amount of breaks you have taken.
5.If less than four breaks, give yourself 5 minute rest and return back to the task.
- After you have made 4 checklists, give yourself a longer break; 20-30 minutes.
After your long break is over, return to the task that you were working with, or start on a new one using the same technique.
The pomodoro method inspires more clarity and focus during your work intensive hours. This way, instead of distracting yourself when your mind becomes overwhelmed, you can actually look forward to a short break to balance your focus.
When something needs to be done, it’s hard to tell yourself that you will get it done eventually, there are always distractions on the way that keep us from doing what we are supposed to. To deal with this, we can create cues. Repeating the same cue day after day is going to teach your brain when it is time to focus on work, and before you know it, it will all happen naturally.
As you continue to incorporate these new habits, your brain will automatically adjust itself to recognize when it is time for work, and you'll feel much more energized to accomplish more in less time, because now there's nothing to distract you.
Keep yourself mentally healthy
Burnouts are not fun, they're terrible, and they slow us way down -- during the busy season, burnouts can happen at any time if we're not careful. To avoid burnouts, practice mental health exercises that will keep you emotionally stable, mentally calm, and mindfully present of everything that needs to be accomplished.
My choices for staying mentally healthy: exercise, and meditation.
Sitting in your office chair all day isn't fun, especially when the pile of work keeps going up, rather than down.
Finding time in the morning to get up and do a quick 45 minute run has had huge positive effects on my mental health, and of course, physical too. Taking just a few minutes each day to exercise can greatly enhance our mood, confidence, and willpower. Although psychologists shy away from recommending exercise as a tool for staying mentally fit, new research is emerging that clarifies the benefits of exercise in remaining mentally healthy.
Through exercise, we can cultivate self-confidence and enjoy higher levels of self-esteem, all great emotional states that help to keep balance during a busy day at work.
Meditation is mental exercise, without the obvious physical effects that physical exercise has. Yet, somehow meditation has become an invaluable asset in my daily life, including work life. Learning to meditate led me to understanding how the contrast changes when we spend 7-9 hours in the office, and then come back home to meditate.
You suddenly realize how worked up you are, and how just 20 minutes of meditation can shed away that mental strain, and you can feel more relaxed to enjoy your evening with family, friends, or your loved one. There's a lot of interesting research emerging in the field of meditation, clarifying the benefits of mindfulness and its application in one's life.
Getting started isn't so difficult either, many different techniques of meditation exist, while those with ultra busy minds can try out platforms like Headspace; a mobile meditation app that helps to keep your mind focused.
This guest post was written by Alex Ivanovs. Alex has worked in the digital ecosphere for the last decade, building online businesses related to web development, design, and online marketing. You can find more of his work at Colorlib, where he is actively working as one of the lead community managers.