Focus. It’s something that is a requirement (at least to some degree) in every single job out there. It is almost expected to be a natural ability, one that is often overlooked as a skill that requires honing. How often do we feel that despite our surroundings, or anything else going on in our heads, that we must keep focused on the work at hand? After all, it’s that job that’s paying the bills. But what is focus and how can we get it, use it, and keep it?
By definition, focus is the centre of interest or activity. It’s the thing that tunes our minds into one task, giving it our whole, undivided attention and doesn’t let us get distracted by anything else that might crop up. Easier said than done in modern living, right?
Workplaces are becoming more and more collaborative with open plan settings, mobile workstations and the demise of the 90s Mad Men style private office. Here at HIGHJAM, it’s exactly that; we’re all together in an open-plan office. It’s extremely social and it creates a really energetic atmosphere which is great for sharing ideas and bouncing-off each other’s energies.
However, as much as there are many benefits to this style of office, this ever-popular layout does mean employees are now having to find focus with a lot more distractions around them. Overhearing colleagues’ conversations and phone calls, the clip-clap of keyboards from all directions and questions fired across the desk space. Even someone offering up a hot beverage on the coffee round acts as an instant distraction from what you were doing. So now you’ve broken concentration, how often do you have a quick scroll through your phone, or chitchat with a colleague? This 2 second distraction can soon turn into 10-15 minutes of lost focus.
Finding focus is not one size fits all, you have to try a few things until you find the one that works best for you. Earphones, quiet workspaces, music, coffee shops – these are all very common ways to find focus.
Research has shown that focus has been measured as the least supported workplace activity. Now this creates a little bit of a problem…if you’re employees aren’t focused, they’re not going to be at their most productive, costing your business time and money. As an employer, it’s important to invest in employee training and wellbeing to support their need to focus. What helps them focus? How can you help them focus? Supporting employees with their focus, should only benefit your business.
For me personally, the gym and music are my ‘go to’ solutions. A morning gym session to clear my head, releasing any frustration and getting those endorphins going sets me up for a good day. If I need something extra, to focus a little further, I plug my earphones in and put some motivational music on. It’s often along the house or dance route…I have to go for something that doesn’t have a lot of lyrics otherwise I turn into my teenage self and sing along…and no one needs to hear that!
So, from looking at what I do and what a few of my colleagues at HIGHJAM do to focus, I’ve come up with a few top tips that could be a good starting point to allow you to be more focused in the workplace:
- Get your environment ready: Do you have everything you need within easy reach to undertake the task at hand? Water / snacks / lighting / power supply etc, anything that can distract you, will, so make sure you’re removing any possible distractions before you start.
- Are you working solely on one project? We’re all guilty of it, having multiple files open at the same time and flicking between tasks throughout the day. Working like this will break your focus. If you can, shut all other distractions down and complete one task at a time. It’ll more than likely take you a lot less time to complete the task in hand.
- Have you got a clear to do list? Sometimes work can get a little overwhelming; too many things to do and not enough time. Instead of panicking, which will only cloud your mind, write yourself a clear to do list with timings set against it. Then start at the top and work your way down. This will not only feel very satisfying as you’re able to tick things off, but it also keeps any panic at bay.
- Noise cancellation: Whether this be finding a quiet spot, putting your headphones on or putting your phone on DND, try to cancel out as much unnecessary noise as possible. This will really help focus your mind.
- Social media boycott: If you’re mind is a little distracted, it’s so easy for us to pick up our phones and have a quick scroll on social media. Before you know it, minutes have gone by, you may have even started a conversation with a friend or colleague about something you’ve seen on your feed, and you’re fully out of focus. Try and leave social media to before/after work or during lunchtime to avoid further distractions.
Not everything here will work for everyone, you may find only a couple work for you, or maybe they only work at certain times or for certain tasks. I encourage my team to find their own ways of focusing and try to support this help where I can. It’s also a good idea to speak to your colleagues / managers to see if they can recommend anything that works for them.
Most importantly, take pride in your work. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you’ll find it a lot easier to focus. So that’s my top tips for finding focus. I’m now off to focus on my next task… (after a cuppa…)