It can be easy to become distracted, distanced from the task at hand. At work this can be affected greatly by the myriad of distractions around us. Staying engaged with tasks can and does become difficult and I’m experiencing it. It could be external distractions – things outside the office preying on one’s mind, or staff with interruption after interruption – sometimes about trivial matters and sometimes about serious issues. It can be hard to focus on these as the interruptions mount. I have a few simple ways to help cope with this.
- Single screen. I take my laptop off it’s dock and focus down on one little monitor where whatever I’m trying to work on is the only thing open. It’s amazing how this narrows the field of view and helps bring the mind to bear on a single issue
- Shut the door to the office / sound proof headphones + a sign indicating “Do not disturb”. This one can take a little training of the people around you, but is relatively straightforward to execute on
- Email / phone off. That damn mobile phone! It dings and rings with alarming frequency at times. Turn the bastard off. Voicemail works well and email will stay fresh. If it’s really important they can come find me!
- Focus list of activities. What has to be done? How does it have to be done? Prioritise and Execute <- this isn’t new to blog readers and I use it extensively to cut through the chaff.
- Give yourself a bit of time for the mind to wander. We are not machines, and you can’t keep your brain on a single thing indefinitely. When studying for my exams I set a 50 minute timer, then a 10 minute break and stuck to this. Amazing how much you can do when the clock is on and time is limited. Unlimited time is a curse I think. Keep it tight and it focuses the mind magnificently. A countdown clock can do wonders – even if it’s an arbitrary time limit.
So there you go – these are 5 options that I am implementing right now (as this goes to print – who doesn’t love the scheduled posting?!) to keep on track. Good luck and stay on mission (be engaged!)