A study found that office distractions take up an average of 2.1 hours a day. Another study found that employees spend an average of 11 minutes of a project before being distracted. After an interruption it then takes them 25 minutes to return to their original task. Of course if you are reading this you have probably been distracted from whatever you are supposed to be doing so let’s get onto the main points…
Switch off the distractions when you need to think
It’s as simple as that, just switch off anything that is likely to distract you. Maybe you have your phone on your desk, Facebook open along side your work or maybe listening to music. If you are trying to focus then eliminating distractions makes it much easier to concentrate. If you lack will power to resist frittering away time watching funny videos on YouTube then there is an app called Self-control that will allow you to temporarily block distractions by blacklisting the websites or if you only need access to certain sites, you can whitelist the ones you require.
Throughout studies in recent years they have found a direct link between sitting for extended periods and a premature death. We are not designed to sit at our workstations are killing us as a result. The first thing to address is posture. Eventually your back muscles become fatigued and you slump. To avoid this, shift your hips back into your seat as far as you can, the backrest should cradle your back. The next thing that needs attention is your computer screen must be at least 20” away from your face, and the top of it should sit at eye level or just below to prevent headaches and neck strain. If it’s not in that position when you look straight ahead then adjust it. Your neck will thank you later for it.
Work in blocks and take a break
In the late 1950’s Dr Nathaniel Kleitman discovered that the brain can only focus for 90-120 minutes before needing a break. A test undertaken on a group of employees showed that the highest performing employees took 17-minute breaks every 52 minutes of work. More surprisingly they didn’t work longer hours than anyone else and often finished their working day earlier. This shows it definitely pays to works in chunks on thinking tasks and give your brain regular breaks. It’s also worth getting the most challenging tasks out of the way with at the beginning of the day, as this will make your brain more efficient.
Drinking lots of water is key to maintaining focus. Dehydration can adversely affect vigilance, concentration, reaction time, learning, memory, mood and reasoning and can cause headaches fatigue and anxiety. This also gives you reason to give yourself regular breaks to go and re-fill your bottle…two birds one stone!
Sharpen up for the office…
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