We’ve all been there, it’s 60 minutes before an important client meeting, you are reviewing your notes before you head out and your phone buzzes. There’s no harm in having a sneaky peak at it, is there?
Well, there is. Every time you get distracted it can take up to 25 minutes to get back in the zone, which means spending a few seconds checking that Facebook notification can really hinder your productivity.
If you can avoid the little distractions, it can make a huge difference on what you can achieve in a day. Let’s have a look at 5 simple ways to stay focused at work.
1. Remind yourself of the point or the why
There isn’t any point beating around the bush - sometimes you have to do a boring task(s) while you’re at work. It’s easy to start daydreaming when this happens. Bring yourself back to the present by reminding yourself why you are doing it in the first place.
If you’re emailing a potential client to confirm an upcoming meeting, your primary motivation is to make sure they don’t miss the appointment. However if you look at the BIGGER picture, getting the meeting gives you the opportunity to learn about the challenges they face in the business, as well as the issues they face while trying to find good talent. This is a fantastic opportunity to get closer to cementing a real professional relationship with them, showing off your industry expertise.
To go even further, placing someone in a job could mean you have hit your quota. It could mean that you are now the top biller for the month.
Once you connect “confirming the appointment” to becoming the “top biller” the task becomes a lot less boring! The best tip? If your motivation starts to fade away, pick it up by thinking about the end game!
2. Don’t get taken down a rabbit warren!
Are there any tasks that throw you way off focus? For me it’s reading blogs (how ironic). While reading blogs I can get sucked into a world I didn’t know existed. All of a sudden I’m reading about the best new stand up desks for the next 20 minutes…. (some of them ARE cool though!)
Identify the things that lead you down those warrens. Write down what distracted you and what you were working on when it happened. After a few days, review the list and see what comes out on top.
Once you’ve found the culprit, organise your day so that you do this task in 2 or 3 short sharp bursts rather than an extended period of time. It’s so much easier to resist the temptation to get distracted when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Moreover, actually being aware of what distracts you will make it easier to recognise when you are about to get side tracked.
3. Use tech to your advantage
There is tech for everything these days. From blocking out distracting websites to tracking how much time you spend on each site, many apps can actually help you stay focused. Once you identify what your habits are, pick one that will help you meet your goals, but don’t let these become distractions in themselves.
Perhaps the best piece of tech you can use is a pair of headphones. Find a great playlist, one that helps you focus, and plug in. Carving out some ‘alone’ time is important when it comes to focusing on getting big tasks done.
4. Get away from your desk at lunchtime
Recharge your batteries, switch off from work, and stretch your legs. Sitting hunched over at your desk has been proven to be the new silent killer and in the recruitment sector we spend a lot of time sitting staring at screens.
According to a recent Bupa Survey: “Two thirds of employees said they are not always able to stop work to eat lunch for 20 minutes, the minimum legal requirement for people working six or more hours, while 28% don’t take a minute to themselves at all during the workday.
5. Think to the Future
Think about your future self. When you’ve got the future on your mind, you are more willing to delay gratification. The next time you are struggling to get a task done, think of your future self and this will give you a boost.
Similar to finding the why for individual tasks, consider your future career path and connect what you’re doing now, with where you want to be. Every piece of work is a part of the bigger picture of who you are professionally so keep that identity in mind.
Staying focused at work leads to increased productivity, it makes you happier, and it means you’ll be more successful as a recruiter. Keep your eye on the ball, acknowledge the common pitfalls outlined above, and avoid the little distractions in order maximise your achievements and remain productive at work.
Cameron McLennan works within recruitment technology industry. Outside of work, he loves spending time with his family and playing golf.