5 ways to stay focused in a busy work environment

5 ways to stay focused in a busy work environment

If you’ve been working for awhile now, I’m sure the sights and sounds of a busy workplace is familiar to you. You may have already grown accustomed to the sounds of tapping fingers on a keyboard, the ringing phones, and the beeps coming from machines around the office, day in and day out (or night in and night out, that is if you work during the night shift).

As normal as they may seem to you, too much noise and distractions in the office can affect your work productivity. Unfortunately, work distractions are a daily struggle for lots of workers. In fact, a UC Irvine study revealed that office employees can only focus at their tasks for an average of three minutes and five seconds before their concentration gets interrupted. These interruptions may be external such as noises from around the workplace, or internal such as when you’re feeling sleepy, bored or experiencing body pain that affects your concentration and productivity. Too much exposure to these distractions can over time lead to poor performance and lost income, and lead to more health problems as well as chronic body pain.

While various office policies (telecommuting, flexible leave policies) can help mitigate the effects of long-term exposure to these office distractions, employees still have to do their part to make them push through office distractions and fight off these enemies of productivity.

Show visual indicators to let people know that you’re busy

There’s no need to post a 10-foot tall billboard to do this, even a simple DO NO DISTURB or BUSY indicator on your chat apps will do. This will deter your seatmates from pinging you for a quick chat online. For those who want to talk to you in person, wearing headphones usually works – it sends a visual cue to others that you do not want to be disturbed without saying anything. If you have a room to yourself, locking the door and posting a sign will do the trick.

Try to find a quiet nook in your office to do your work

Some offices these days have done away with the typical cubicle-type set up (see some of them here), with designs that place a bigger emphasis on efficiency and privacy. If you’re one of the lucky few to have these amenities in your workplace, then use them by all means. If not and yours employ a more traditional approach to design, finding an empty room for you to use is a great option. This strategy is best used when you’re trying to do work that involves a lot of details, requiring tons of concentration and focus.

Switch off your gadgets

The biggest productivity killers of the modern age may be our beloved gadgets. A single ‘beep’ signalling a message can break the concentration of even the most focused employees. It may be hard to tear yourself away from your phone but remember that work should be the priority, not socializing. Think of the office as a cinema or a place for worship where use of gadgets are discouraged – keeping them on silent mode or completely shutting them off while you work will help you stay concentrated on the task at hand. The same goes for your social media apps on the computer. Resist the urge to check on your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter while you work and turn off their desktop notifications if possible.

Keep an emergency stash in your drawer

As previously mentioned, not all distractions come from external sources. Often, our own bodies cause can disruptions to our work flow. Headaches and other bodily pains can sometimes be debilitating enough to make one unable to work. In times like these, it pays to have an arsenal of remedies in your drawer. Medicine or ointments can help bring about temporary relief, while healthy snacks will help stave off hunger and maintain one’s concentration.

Seek out professional help

These techniques may be helpful in the short-term, but for long-lasting remedies, a visit to the doctor is essential. If you’re having trouble focusing a work due to some emotional problems, don’t be ashamed to seek out help from professionals. They are the best people to turn to in these types of situations as they could provide you with the remedies appropriate to your case. Don’t let your problems take over your life until it’s too late – find the help you need ASAP. 


Further reading: 

Tips for CEOs to drive successful digital workplace strategy

The 4 secrets of indispensable employees

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