8 Powerful Ways to Increase Focus and Productivity At Work
8 Powerful Ways to Increase Focus and Productivity At Work
Focus and productivity at work can make the difference between high performance and average. One of the main issues facing a majority of the workforce today is cutting out distractions and getting shit done.
There are many things affecting your performance at work that you may not even know about.
Whether you want to get more done than your colleagues and get ahead, get out of work early to do the things you really enjoy or just focus and do your job.
For every app, technology and gadget out there that promises to increase focus and productivity, there are 100 more that do nothing but lead to more distractions and wasted time.
Here are eight of the most powerful ways to eliminate distractions and increase your focus and productivity at work.
Optimize Your Workspace
One gigantic killer of focus and productivity at work is chronic pain. Much of this pain is caused by sitting/standing all day in the same position. To make matters worse, if you don’t have things in your office at the right height or position, it can lead to fatigue, eye strain and pain even quicker.
Check out this free Workspace Installation Tool to find out what the optimal height of your screen, keyboard and chair should be.
You just plug in your height, and it does the rest. The picture above shows the results for my height.
You should also make sure that the things you use most are as close as possible to your body.
Your keyboard should be in front of you in the center of your desk where you will be sitting or standing. Since keyboards vary in shape and size, a great rule of thumb for this is to try to place the “B” key in the center of where you will be sitting or standing.
A mistake that many people make is the height of their monitor. You want your eyes to be level with a point about 2 to 3 inches down from the top of your monitor. This will help to reduce any unnecessary strain on your neck. Your monitor should also be placed 20″-30″ away from your eyes to reduce strain.
While having the ability to switch from sitting to standing frequently throughout the day is by far the best option, I realize that this may not be possible for everyone.
If that is the case for you, you should try to stand up at least once every hour and stretch or walk around for 5 minutes or longer.
If you don’t have a sit-stand desk, it’s important to at least change postures often. Squat in your chair, perch on the edge of your chair, and of course, get up and walk often.
To learn more about sit/stand desks, check out this article. Read This Before Switching To A Standing Desk
Organize Your Workspace
While keeping your most used items close by is very important, having too many things within arm’s reach can be very distracting. To stay organized, have only the things you need the most often close by. Put the rest of them away in drawers or on a shelf.
Nowadays, most offices can be full of distractions, not to mention the distractions of our smartphones and computers. Here are a few ways to reduce these distractions and stay focused on your work.
Most office space is moving from private offices and cubes to open space unassigned seating.
People talking, phones ringing, printers and the annoying pen clicking of the person next to you can all lead to distractions and a reduction in productivity.
The easiest way to eliminate these distractions is with headphones. The biggest thing with headphones is to make sure that they are comfortable.
Here are some general guidelines to go by when it comes to what to listen to.
- Moderate noise levels can get you focused and increase your creativity, just find your sweet spot. 
- A 2015 study concluded that ambient noise improved people’s ability to concentrate.  The buzz in a coffee shop is about the loudest you can go and still get work done without becoming stressed by noise.
- Listening to something you are familiar with is best when it comes to focus.
I usually listen to 1 of 2 things when I need to focus.
Binaural Beats/Brainwave music
This is one of my favorites. In a nutshell, binaural beats use two different frequencies, one in each ear to change your brainwave pattern to a frequency in the middle of the two. You can use these to increase concentration and focus, help you reduce stress and relax, or to even help you get a better night’s sleep.
You can download apps that play these, or use a streaming service. Here are a few different ones you can try out.
- Brain.fm– A streaming service that asks for your feedback on the effectiveness to best tailor it to you. You can try out a few sessions for free. I use this daily.
- Focus@will– Another streaming service.
- Brainwave Apps– They have 5 apps that you can download. The thing I really like about this is app is that you have them on your phone so you don’t have to stream them. You can also combine it will any other music you have on your phone.
“Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks, and invents.” — Ludwig van Beethoven
When it comes to what to listen to, that varies by person. For some people it can be some type of background or white noise. For other people it can be some type of music.
While music with lyrics can offer huge benefits for exercise and physical activity, it’s not usually a good idea for tasks requiring complete concentration and focus. 
I mainly listen to classical music or instrumentals when I need to focus. Some people prefer jazz or electronic music. You may have to experiment to find out what works best for you.
The first thing I do when I am going to have to focus is to put my phone on airplane mode and disable notifications, like the alert of new emails on my computer.
I also use two apps to help eliminate and deal with distractions.
- StayFocusd– This is a Chrome browser extension that blocks all or certain websites from my computer for a certain amount of time. You can also find these for other browsers and even stand-alone apps.
- RescueTime– Being a data nerd, I want to be able to quantify everything. It started out with my health, but now encompasses most aspects of my life. Rescue Time runs in the background tracking how you use your time and also provides tools to help you be more productive.
Water & Snacks
Something that can be a huge productivity killer is getting hungry or thirsty and having to stop what you are doing to go get a snack or something to drink.
I always keep a bottle of water close to me and a few nutritious snacks in my bag or in a drawer.
For some more tips on snacks, hydration and eating healthy at work, check out this article.
Plan Your Day
Have you ever had one of those days where you felt like you were super busy all day, yet when you reflected on what you accomplished, you were left disappointed?
That used to happen to me all the time. One thing that has help me with this has been my daily routine.
Using a journal every day has helped me plan my day, keep me accountable, and reflect on what I did well and what I could do better.
Here are my two biggest tips for accomplishing more during your day.
Planning out what you want and need to do is a very powerful habit to start. This leaves less room to get distracted and more than likely will keep you motivated and focused as you check off completed tasks. Don’t just plan out what you need to do or your most important tasks.
I set aside small portions of my day to check social media, emails and time to connect with friends, family and coworkers. If you schedule the same time every day for these things, people will get to know your schedule and are more apt to leave you alone during your focus time.
Best Self Journal
I regularly use a journal called the Best Self Journal, but you can use anything from a daily planner to a normal journal. The point here is to do what works best for you.
Here are some of the reasons I love the Best Self Journal.
- Track habits on a weekly basis
- Record what I am going to be doing during each part of my day
- Flexibility to use it in a way that’s best for me
- Daily reflection on what I accomplished, did well and what I can do better
- 13 week goal setting and tracking
- Morning and evening gratitude records
There are way too many features of this journal to mention here. You can even download a printable PDF to try before you buy the journal.
Ben Franklin’s Virtues: 13 Week Journal
I also sometimes use a journal created by Brett McKay over at The Art of Manliness. Ben Franklin was famous for his detailed routines and enormous level of productivity. He began each day by asking, “What good shall I do this day” and ended each day by asking, “What good have I done this day.” He also had a list of 13 virtues that he considered to be the most important and tracked them all daily, focusing on a specific one every week.
This journal is less detailed than the Best Self journal, but for some people may prove a much better fit. It allows you to plan out every part of your day, answer the two questions that Ben Franklin asked himself daily, and also track each of his 13 virtues. You can read more about this journal here.
I really enjoy both of these journals, and alternate between them sometimes.
Complete Your Most Important Task First
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” — Mark Twain
Willpower is a finite resource. If you save the most important or dreaded tasks for the end of the day, you are much less likely to complete them. Your brain lives off of glucose
“When you have something hard to do, just throw yourself in to it and the next thing you know, its almost done.”
Completing your most important tasks first also makes sure that when you reflect on your daily accomplishments, you don’t feel like you fell short.
I’ve had great success from something I heard on Ben Greenfield’s interview with Tai Lopez.
It basically involves breaking your day up into multiple chunks. I use 5 different chunks, but you can develop you own strategy on what works best for you.
- The first chunk of the day, from the time you wake up till the time you go to work is to catch up on anything that needs your immediate attention and also to take care of yourself. This part of my day usually consists of journaling, meditation, some form of movement and reading something either spiritual or personal development related.
- The second chunk of your day should be devoted to your most important or the hardest task of the day. This is usually the late morning portion of my day.
- The third chunk of the day for me is early afternoon. I usually take care of some of the other tasks that need to be completed but aren’t necessarily the most important.
- The fourth chunk is late afternoon in to early evening. I use this time as my reward time. This is when I do the things that I love to do. Dinner also usually falls in to this chunk. If you don’t give yourself this reward time it can be hard to stay motivated on a day to day basis.
- The fifth and final chunk of my day is when I relax, maybe watch a movie with the family or read something fiction. If I get another surge of energy or creativeness, I may do a little writing before going to bed.
Of course there is a lot more that goes in to my morning and evening routines. A few people have expressed an interest in what my normal routines look like so I will write an article about that soon.
Do you have any other ways that help you to stay focused and productive? We’d love it if you would share any of those things in the comments below.
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