05 Sep Stay focused and work smarter
In today’s fast paced world, it’s really difficult, if not near impossible, to stay focused. The tons of distractions that get in the way of what we need to accomplish. Facebook, Twitter, email, phone calls, text messages, Whatsapp, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Plus, mail, pigeon, and god forbid if anyone talks to you. If you work from home add kids, door bell, TV, and bed to the list. Nothing. Done. So no matter what your goals are, staying focused and motivated should be a top priority. Here are practical strategies to sustain focus at work or in any project or task.
Know when to say “No”
Keeping your focus on your goals doesn’t just mean saying yes to the things you need to focus on, it also means saying “no” to non-urgent tasks. And yes, even saying no to those pesky tasks that dress up and scream ‘I’M IMPORTANT’; yep, no to them too. This, is, key. You have to set boundaries and learn when to say no. This will free up time for you to focus on the task at hand, getting you ahead. If they flood your conscious and threaten to never leave, jot them down, add them to your task management system of choice. Don’t allow them more time than it takes to do that alone.
Also, be realistic, not optimistic. We often try to cram too many tasks into too little time, that just looking at our daily ‘to do’ list overwhelms us. Know your priorities and trust your intuition when it tells you that saying yes to something will take too much time away from your other responsibilities.
Say “no” and be firm about it.
Here at Yeti we’re constantly faced with overwhelming demands on our time and attention that previously we’ve tried to do multiple things at once, or switch back and forth between tasks quickly just to keep our head above water.
Multitasking may seem like a good idea, but focusing on too many things at one time can lead to drop in efficiency and productivity. It breaks concentration and makes you more prone to errors.
To avoid multitasking, try schedule tasks on your calendar ahead of your deadline, focusing on the most important tasks first. Work on each task in larger chunks than 5 minutes, or use the super productive pomodoro technique. If you find yourself switching to another task without completing the first one, stop and get back to the task at hand. If other tasks come in while you are working, take a note of them so you can address them later. We use Asana to run our entire operation at Yeti, and it kicks ass.
Tune out distractions
Distraction is the enemy of productivity. This fits hand in hand with saying no to time sappers.
If thinking about being distraction free sounds like a crazy dream to you, then your going to feel the most benefit. Your goal is to learn to control distractions and interruptions, and fortunately there is a lot you can do. Take your work into a quite space, put your phone on silent and away from sight. If you can’t be trusted, turn off your phone; the 2 major ones. Just doing these two alone will help dramatically. Also Turn off the email and popup calendar reminders and set aside a specified time to check emails, to return calls, or for any other activities. Then shake hands with yourself to confirm the deal.
When you feel anxious that you will not be able to finish tasks on time, planning ahead will help you maintain sanity during those stressful times.
Create a plan on a piece of paper or your task management system of choice. List down what tasks you need to tackle within the day and set realistic timelines to complete them. It’s worth alongside a wall or electronic calendar. Add this to your new distraction free, knowing when to say no environment and you’re moving rapidly forward.
Take regular breaks
This is the one I have to remind myself of the most. I feel like someone’s trying to trick me into having a break. Most people intentionally miss out on work breaks in order to be more productive and beat deadlines. But the truth is, if you want to be more productive, taking regular breaks is as important as working hard.
Just like our body, our brain can become fatigued without us realizing after focusing on a task for a prolonged period, and it can poorly affect performance and productivity. It needs a rest period in order to recover. Taking breaks can help you refocus, rejuvenate your mind and body, and avoid work burnout.
Any time you start to feel that you’re losing your focus, get up from the computer, move around or try some stretches. This will help reduce physical and mental stress so you can perform at your best. We’ve thrown some strange shapes here at Yeti before now, many of which included the classic lunge. And you’ve heard about google sleep pods right?