Do you ever feel like you just can’t focus at work? I know this happens to me a lot. You start to feel like you’re stuck in a bit of a rut and are wasting your work day, not getting half as much done as you could be. It’s not that you don’t want to work. I mean, the more work you put in, the better your company fares – especially for small businesses. Not only does hard work pay off in the end monetarily, but more importantly, hard work pays off in personal growth by expanding your skill set! So, the question is – what are some things you can do to help yourself get the most out of your day.
There is something that Sport Psychologists like to call “flow”. It is when an athlete reaches his or her ultimate zone of focus and optimal performance. To reach this state of efficiency, it is said that most athletes will prepare by following a routine, analyzing personal strengths and weaknesses and expanding on that self knowledge, practicing healthy behaviors, etc. What I want to talk about is applying some of these methods to the business professional. We all want to reach that optimal zone of focus – to reach “flow”, but sometimes it just feels like an impossible feat. Planning can do a lot to fix your lack of concentration.
For starters, establishing a morning routine is actually very important. Whether you’re a morning person who can kick out of bed and hit your favorite morning trail, or if you take a solid 30 minutes to come back to life after chugging 2 or 3 cups of coffee, it is important to establish a routine. When you follow your morning ritual, your brain is signaled that after you do this it is work time – time to focus. It is much easier to reach your zone when your brain is trained to automatically get there.
Know your body. Analyze your productivity and when it happens and expand on that time. I know that when I get into the office, first thing in the morning I am able to sit down and get quite a bit done. I used to come in and answer a ton of emails and would put off my more intensive tasks for later. This was a mistake because come 2 or 3 o’clock and my brain has shut off and craving a nap. Of course I go get a cup of coffee in hopes of waking myself up – but it doesn’t change the fact that I will likely not get much productive work done. I also know that come 7 pm, I have come back to life once more and am ready to get things done! So – my point is, know when your optimal focus hours are and schedule your workload accordingly.
Take breaks. Even if you’re like me and usually prefer to power through your lunch hour to get your work done sooner, studies report that it is actually better for your mind to take a break. When you take some time away from thinking about work, your mind is able to reset. It’s like taking a mini vacation; right before going on that summer cruise, your mind has nearly reached a point of non-function…but when you get back you’re ready to take on the world again because your mind has gotten the rest it needed. Treat your work day much in the same way. Take a break to give your mind a little rest. You’ll find that you can work more efficiently once you get back.
One last thing is to create an environment that you feel comfortable working in. For me, when writing that consists of silence, caffeine and no distractions. When doing more physical projects, I need some motivating music and I’m good! We all function in our own unique ways, set up the right environmental cues for your brain that help you reach that flow.
Now – get to work! And make sure to stay charged.