14 Tips for Staying Focused and Improving Concentration
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 16 November 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Whether you work in an office or at home, focusing on your tasks and maintaining concentration throughout the day can be a challenge. There are many factors that can affect your focus, including your personal state and the environment around you. If you're having trouble maintaining concentration and productivity while you work, reviewing helpful tips can help you learn what techniques suit you best. In this article, we explain why staying focused is important, detail the factors that may affect your concentration and list 14 tips for better concentration.
Why is staying focused important?
Staying focused is important because it can help you complete your tasks and avoid procrastination. Distractions can make it more difficult to focus on your responsibilities, so eliminating them can boost your efficiency. Here are some reasons why maintaining concentration can be beneficial:
Improves work-life balance: When you're able to focus on your current task, you can complete it faster and to a higher quality. This can help you avoid working at home or overtime, which can improve your work-life balance.
Reduces time you spend on tasks: Struggling with distractions can mean you're unable to maintain focus on one element. This can make a one-hour task take two hours instead, taking time away from other important duties or projects.
Enhances your performance: Focusing on a particular task can help you complete more work and improve its quality. When you enhance your concentration, team leaders may notice your performance improving.
Decreases the risk of mistakes and errors: Depending on what your role is, mistakes can range from minor to very serious. For example, staying focused as a doctor and reducing your errors can help you improve your quality of care.
Factors that can affect your focus
If you're struggling with concentration, it can be helpful to determine what elements can make it difficult for you to maintain focus. Here are some factors that can affect your ability to concentrate:
Environment: Where you choose to do your work can affect how easy it is to focus. For example, a crowded space full of people talking may not be the most effective for concentration.
Health: How you feel mentally and physically can affect how easy it is for you to maintain your focus. If you're tired, hungry or dehydrated, thinking about stopping for a snack, nap or drink may make it harder to stay productive.
Engagement: The task itself can determine your level of productivity. Carrying out tasks that are at the higher end of your skill level and that are interesting can help you maintain your concentration.
14 tips for better concentration
Improving your productivity can help you reduce stress and have a better work-life balance. Here are 14 tips you can use to enhance your focus:
1. Concentrate on one task at a time
Though multitasking may sound tempting, it doesn't always improve your productivity. It may not actually be possible to multi-task on two or more jobs at once, especially if they require significant thought. Focus on one task at a time to finish it quickly and with a better outcome.
2. Change your focus
If you're trying to complete a task but struggling to focus on it, consider changing to something else. It's likely that you have several tasks to accomplish each day and switching when you become frustrated or disinterested can help you maintain motivation. For example, a graphic artist may plan to organise their files, finish a design and respond to edits. If they lose focus while organising files because it's not as engaging to them, they can switch to finishing a design to help engage their brain and regain concentration.
3. Complete a hard task
Another way to motivate yourself and help find your focus is to order your tasks from the most complex or difficult to the easiest or simplest. By completing something difficult, you can feel a sense of accomplishment and regain your focus on other tasks. For example, a graphic designer may choose to respond to edits, which is usually the most difficult task on their list. After finishing it, organising the files may seem like a simpler and less demanding task and be easier to focus on.
4. Create routines
Establishing a routine that incorporates focus tips can help you prime yourself for a task you want to complete. For example, you may arrive at the office each morning, get a cup of coffee, change the date on your calendar and put on your headphones to block out external sounds. Completing these stages can signal to your brain that it's time to begin work on.
5. Design a workspace
Your environment can affect how easily you focus. Noise levels, visual clutter and functionality can all impair your ability to concentrate. Consider designing a workspace with minimal distractions to help you complete your tasks more effectively. For example, you may keep water and snacks at your desk to minimise the number of times you go to the break room or cafeteria.
6. Do a small task
If you find it difficult to focus on anything, completing a small task can help. Choose something that takes less than five or 10 minutes, then set a timer and finish it. By completing something small, you can regain your motivation, positive mindset and ability to concentrate on other duties.
7. Go for a walk
Working inside can be beneficial because of the controlled climate, but having time outside can be helpful for productivity. Consider taking a walk or sitting outdoors while you're having lunch. This can give your eyes a break from the screen or your project and help you feel relaxed and energised when you come back.
8. Improve mindfulness
Mindfulness is your awareness of your current space and position. If you're struggling with focus, you can try taking a five-minute break and thinking about why a task is important and how you can accomplish it. Consider trying a guided meditation or taking deep breaths.
9. Make a to-do list
One thing that can affect focus is creating a subconscious list of tasks in your mind. If you're trying to work, but you keep thinking about other duties, either personal or professional, it may be beneficial to make a list. Write down everything you plan to do as it can help you clear your mind and focus on your work.
10. Move your body
Exercise can be a good tool for maintaining concentration. If you become restless when sitting still, consider investing in a treadmill or stepping machine to use at your desk. You can also try different positions in which you can walk and move your body to help you maintain your concentration.
11. Play music
Playing music may help you concentrate on your work. This can be particularly helpful if your surroundings are noisy and you want to block out the sound. Try out different types of music to see what works best for you. It may be beneficial to avoid anything with lyrics, as it may be distracting. If music doesn't work, you can also try natural sounds or white noise.
12. Prepare snacks
It can be difficult to concentrate when you're hungry. Prepare nourishing snacks to nibble while you work on your tasks. Consider snacks that are low in sugar, or ones that can boost your motivation and mood while you complete your work.
13. Reduce distractions
There are many things that can distract you during work, whether you're at the office or at home. If you work at home, communicate to the people you share the space with the times that you're engaged in professional activities. In the office, you could post a sign on your door indicating that you're focusing or turn off the notifications on your work chat. This can help your colleagues understand to only disturb you when something's urgent.
14. Rest and relax
Relaxing is just as important for focus as motivation is. During your time off, be sure to engage in activities that help you relax. For example, you can play a musical instrument, go on nature walks or visit cafes.
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