There are only 24 hours in a day and at least 16 of them are spent at work and asleep. That leaves less than 8 hours to take care of, well….life. Therefore, most people spend a few of those 8 work hours each day taking care of errands they may not be able to do at any other time.
The challenge is learning how to stay focused at work with all of those distractions.
Whether you are an accountant, full-time blogger, lawyer or a scientist…like me, everyone has various reasons for losing focus at work. You could be planning a wedding, buying a new home or even just being plain old bored with your current assignment.
As I sit here now, I’m on the verge of procrastinating and taking an infinite amount of time to post this article.
I was really distracted at work the week I decided to launch my blog. I was super excited and proud of the website I had put together.
My mind was focusing on how many website viewers I had that day, checking Google Analytics every minute of the day. I was too focused on the next article I wanted to publish and not on all of the responsibilities I had on my shoulders at work. At times, I felt myself forgetting information that was so very basic to my daily tasks as a geoscientist.
I knew I needed a change because work is my primary wealth builder. No matter the reason for your distraction, you need to keep in mind that your career is your number one wealth building tool.
The income you earn from your career provides a means to acquire additional streams of income.
As you build your wealth, save, and make sound financial investments, you move one step closer to financial freedom. Therefore, determining how to stay focused and avoid distractions is the key to financial success.
Here are 5 simple methods you need to start now!
1. Be Present in the Moment
Have you ever felt your mind wander during a meeting or found yourself daydreaming after lunch? You didn’t get much work done, did you? To avoid being easily distracted, challenge yourself to be present in the moment.
Approach your workday with specific intent and purpose.
For example, concentrate on every word your colleague says and read every word in the email you just received. Giving more attention to your current situation will ensure that you think less about what you will have for dinner or where you will go on your next vacation and think more about the tasks you have at hand.
2. Work under a Timeline
Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s Law?
Parkinson’s Law is the notion that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
I can attest to this! I’ve had projects without an immediate timeline and they’ve lasted for weeks. Magically, when the deadline approaches, the project is polished and complete.
To combat procrastination, creating an artificial timeline is an easy way to stay focused at work. To do this, think about how much time you’ll need to complete your task or assignment, even though your formal deadline may be weeks away. Once you’ve determined a realistic timeline, put it onto your calendar. Having a constant reminder will keep you motivated to complete the task at hand in a timely manner.
Expert Tip #1: Make sure to take care of priorities first! Have other pertinent deadlines? Take care of those tasks first, and don’t sacrifice quality. Account for pertinent deadlines when creating your artificial deadline.
3. Make a Deal with Yourself
This is my favorite way to avoid distractions at work. No matter how urgent the deadline for your project, when you lack motivation, you are more likely to procrastinate. To get motivated, I make deals with myself and provide myself incentives to be more productive. Reward yourself for all of the hard work that you have accomplished.
For example, I finished my PowerPoint presentation in an hour so I walked over to Starbucks and got a Chai tea as a reward. Looking forward to the “prize” for finishing your task is key to getting work done in a timely manner. With a bit of extra motivation, you can accomplish any feat!
4. Stick to a To-Do List
The more traditional way to stay focused and remain productive during the week is to keep a to-do list. Everyone has created a to-do list at least once in their lifetime. But do you REALLY know if you benefiting from creating one? Or are you writing task down to never actually finish them in a productive and efficient way? You keep a to-do list just to have a list….
There are many ways to create to-do lists: hourly, daily, weekly. There is no perfect frequency to choose. It all depends on your preference. For example, every morning when you get to work or every evening when you leave work, you can easily add tasks and reorganize the list as you see fit. Or you can create a to-do list on Sunday night or Monday morning for the whole week.
The frequency of when you create your to-do list doesn’t matter as much as how you create your to-do list.
This can make the difference between success and failure.
To make sure your goals are clear and easily accomplished:
Goal: Read 13 pages of Rich Dad, Poor Dad tonight for 1 hour
Specific- I want to read 13 pages of Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
Measurable- My goal is 13 pages. It’s easy to count how many pages I have read after an hour of reading.
Achievable- I know 13 pages is achievable, I may even read more!
Relevant- My goal is to increase my financial literacy by reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
Time-bound- I want to accomplish this task in 1 hour.
By following this method, you will more easily accomplish tasks big or small and will be more productive in the long run.
Expert Tip #2: To-do lists can simply be written on a piece of paper or can be kept in a yearly planner. I personally switch back and forth.
5. Have a Fulfilled Life Away from Work
We work to live not live to work! Work-life balance is important not only for your sanity but also to keep you engaged and happy at work. The only real way to be successful at work is to have a fulfilled life away from work.
What are your hobbies?
Do you participate in any organizations?
What weekend trips have you taken lately?
Being at work for long hours won’t seem like a burden when you had a perfect Sunday brunch with your friends and are looking forward to a nice dinner with your spouse next Saturday.
Haven’t you ever gone to work and reminisced about a nice dinner with your friends the night before? Didn’t you feel happy and more than ready for anything that the day put in your path?
When you have a full life outside of work, the positivity that you feel translates to great work accomplishments.
Need some weekend fun without the cost? 21 Things Not to Do on a No Spend Weekend
What are some other ways you avoid distractions at work?