It’s hard to imagine what our jobs would be like without technology -- but how much is too much? Our digital devices have helped with convenience and accessibility, but it has also promoted procrastination. If you are struggling with your overflowing inbox or constantly distracted by your endless smart phone notifications, it may be time to reassess your work habits and implement some new tactics.
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If you’re stuck for ideas, here are five ways to improve your focus, so that you can boost your work productivity and get more done.
#1 Work Out In The Morning
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Getting up early for a morning walk, run, yoga class or any kind of activity can help energise you for the day to come. Exercise offers physical benefits as well as psychological. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are your feel-good hormones.
As a result, you’re more likely to approach the day ahead positively than you would without exercise. The hit of energy from the morning workout can effectively carry you through the day, encouraging focus and concentration. You may also sleep better at night! However, it is important to regularly listen to your body. If you feel overworked or really exhausted, don’t force yourself. Rather, sleep in and allow your body to rest and schedule in your workout for the next morning.
#2 Embrace Efficient Emailing
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Emails can be the worst culprit when it comes to lowering productivity and efficiency. If something can be said face to face or via a phone call in two minutes, avoid wasting time typing out a lengthy response. If your industry and job allows for it, turn off your email alerts and allocate dedicated time slots throughout the day to check and respond to emails.
This way, you won’t be distracted by the constant influx of email notifications and can focus on the task at hand. You can also establish expectations by setting up an automated email response that informs people you only check emails intermittently and will get back to them within a set time frame. People often associate urgency with every email they get but sometimes that’s not really the case. If something is truly pressing, you can always be reached on your mobile (indicate this in your automated email response but don’t let people take advantage of it). However, before you start implementing the above, just run it by your boss to make sure they are comfortable with it.
#3 Take A Breather
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You may think that skipping your lunch break to catch up on emails makes you an efficient employee, but it could be doing more harm than good. Sitting for too long reduces the blood flow in your body and brain. Introducing regular movement into your daily routine can help improve your blood flow and therefore concentration. Also, constantly staring at your computer screen can be draining on the eyes and increases exhaustion. Try stepping away from your desk for five to 10 minutes every hour or so to allow your mind to switch gears and to give your legs a stretch. Even a few minutes of refresh and reset can help to improve your focus.
#4 Establish Distance With Your Phone
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Ever find yourself head down in a task but then the buzz of your iPhone rings and suddenly you spend the next 10 minutes dealing with notifications from three different social media channels? This kind of interruption can seriously affect your productivity, as it takes time to restore your initial focus and get back into a task. If this sounds familiar, perhaps it’s time to set some distance with your phone. Leave it in your bag or drawer so you can’t see it.
If your job requires you to keep your mobile nearby to accept incoming calls, simply turn off your data notifications. So you’ll still get your calls but won’t be distracted by other non-work related notifications. Your Facebook inbox messages and Snapchats will still be there after work, so deal with them accordingly after working hours. You’ll be amazed by how much more you can get done when you’re switched out of social media at work.
#5 Use Your Lunch Hour Wisely
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Employees are often given an hour for lunch, yet many rarely use it and instead take the time to catch up on emails or eat lunch hurriedly to squeeze in other tasks. You’re likely to be more productive in the afternoon if you take your lunch break and make good use of it. Divide the hour up by allocating half an hour to eating, 15 minutes to reading the news or interesting articles and the other 15 on an activity that can help you de-stress and mediate.
Embrace the latest trend of adult colouring books and colour away any anxiety or stress in that 15 minutes. Before you dismiss this beloved childhood habit, consider the benefits. Colouring has been shown to shift our brain waves from a beta state, which is when we’re physically and mentally active, to an alpha state where we’re more relaxed. The tactile experience of colouring is also naturally calming and when you’re relaxed, naturally you are able to tackle difficult tasks more efficiently. Test this out and see if you are able to get more done in the second half of your working day.
Staying focused at work has become increasingly challenging thanks to our digital advices constantly demanding our attention and the abundance of information we are consistently exposed to. Try out the above tactics and see an instant improvement to your work productivity and efficiency levels. You may also feel less stressed and more energised!
Sophie Higgins is head of merchandising and marketing at Dymocks.