How to Improve Focus at Work to Increase Productivity

An employee sitting at his desk while listening to music in order to increase his work productivity.

Working alongside fellow employees with easy contact with news, entertainment and social media can create a distracting work environment. The more tedious, strenuous or crucial the work is, the easier distractions are to find. It is imperative to allow your employees to indulge in some of their distractions to keep their critical thinking fresh and relaxed; however, it can take up to 20 minutes to recover from any distraction your employees may stumble upon.

An abundance of distractions can severely impact productivity and efficiency in the workplace, which is why it is essential to practice good behaviours and establish a working environment that allows your employees to embrace distractions- but not to the point where their work is hindered. Here are a few methods you can integrate into your workplace to improve efficiency and productivity:

Adjust Your Working Location

Everybody has a different threshold for howAn employee sitting at his desk while listening to music in order to increase his work productivity. many distractions they can take in while still completing their work. For some, a quiet and sombre working environment promoting silence and reclusiveness instills pressure to stay focused on the task at hand. However,
silence and reclusiveness can make the working environment stiff and stagnant, which can bore an employee and cause them to lose interest in the work they are doing. For many, working around other people in an office-type setting encourages them to work harder and stay on task, especially when they see others around them exhibiting a hardworking attitude. Yet, at the same time, there are people who get easily distracted by their coworkers or customers and decimate their productivity. It is crucial to understand your employees so you can use their strengths and try to minimize their weaknesses. If one of your employees finds it difficult to maintain a steady focus on their work while in a remote or isolated working environment, give them the opportunity to work in a faster-paced, social working space. It can even help to use headphones to escape the silence if that helps them. If your employee wastes too much time socializing or finding distractions, find them an opportunity where they can stay consistently productive away from social interactions.

Separate Life and Work

An employee who practices good work-life balanceWith modern technology, we are continuously updated with news, social postings, and updates from work. It’s tough to imagine life as it is without access to our mobile devices because society relies so heavily on being able to contact anyone you need at a moment's notice. Everyone has a cell phone which makes it easy to contact them in a time of need, be it a family member, friend, or coworker/employee. This easy contact makes it difficult to completely disconnect from your work responsibilities after the working day, on weekends and vacations. At any point in the day, an employee can access their work emails or task management system and respond to work-related issues or prepare for their tasks for the upcoming week.

Mental stability is incredibly important for employees. If they aren't able to disconnect from work, it means they are working 24/7, around the clock. When they arrive at work and are expected to put forward 100% effort, they can’t because they are drained and exhausted from working too much. Relay to your employees that they must disconnect from their work when their shifts are completed. Encourage your employees to log out of their work emails, refrain from answering calls from management and fellow employees on off hours, and to spend time with their family and loved ones. Spending time with people you love increases oxytocin levels in the brain which promotes feelings of generosity and gratitude and reduces anxiety. Never forget that your employees require time away from work to focus on their interests and family so they can put in a dedicated effort on the job.

Decorate Your Working Space To Inspire

Many of the distractions that occur at work are a result of employees feeling disconnected in the workplace. Some perform tedious and monotonous jobs and some rarely see the fruits of their labour or get recognition from their superiors. You need to allow your employees to work in a place where they can demonstrate their uniqueness and creativity. The reason that people feel so comfortable, happy and productive in their homes is that they surround themselves with items, pictures, scents that help them stay focused and remind them of what they’re working towards. Encourage your employees to bring in photographs of their favourite city on earth, portraits of their family, and embrace their individuality in the workplace to spark their productivity.

Decorating a cubicle with items that motivate you to work hard.

Promote Organization

Keeping a desk organized to promote better productivity.If you're working in a cubicle or at a desk, it doesn’t take long before miscellaneous trinkets and knickknacks pile up. The accumulation of random items quickly takes up space on your desktop, your desk drawers and the front and back seats of your work truck. The more items you have around you the more likely you are to be distracted by them. An accumulation of non-work related items can also lead to disorganization in the tasks you’re trying to complete. For example, a cluttered desk drawer filled with receipts from fast food restaurants or a collection of loose leaf papers can make it difficult for you to sort through and find what you’re looking for. De-clutter as much as you can; you don’t need to throw out everything and adopt a minimalistic style, but keep these distractions to a minimum. If you wish to keep a bouncy ball on your desk or a Hawaiian dashboard dancing hula girl to distract yourself once in a while that’s completely fine, but as soon as distractions begin taking up the bulk of your working day, it’s wise to get rid of the excess clutter.

Promote Sanitation

An employee sneezing and spreading germs to another employeeDid you know that working hours lost due to sickness is the leading cause for missed shifts and the reason for pushed back deadlines? Working in an environment with many other people increases the chances for illnesses to spread throughout the office, and quickly. Especially common during the winter months, illnesses are commonly spread through the air and through the use of appliances such as sinks, coffee pots, toilets, and door handles. Sicknesses make it tremendously difficult to dedicate 100% effort to your position. Sore throats, congested sinuses, stomach bugs, and headaches make it nearly impossible for someone to put forth their best effort in any job they are performing. It is imperative to keep your working area clean and tidy. Ensure that you are cleaning your keyboards and computer screens at the end of each week if you have a desk job and schedule inside and outside car washes monthly if you perform physical labour outside. Invest in multiple recycling bins and garbages: you can use one for food and non-work related documents, the other can be used for work-related items only. Throwing out important work documents can be detrimental to your work and it would make it especially difficult to recover lost documents with old food spilled over it. Ensure all emails are either sorted after they have been read, keep all important emails that you will reference in the future, and discard unneeded emails to improve efficiency.

Posture and Exercise

An employee stretching at his deskWhen you sit down all day at a desk your mind is on the task at hand and very seldom do you consider how you are sitting for hours on end. Some days you may slouch, sit cross-legged, or even stand if you have an adjustable desk; how you seat yourself while working can make all the difference in how well you can focus. Standing desks provide employees with the opportunity to practice proper posture; however, for long, detail-oriented jobs, standing for 8 hours is impractical. For employers, it is crucial to provide employees with stretching techniques and routine breaks to allow employees to move around and get their blood flowing. Provide your employees with top-of-the-line ergonomic chairs and recommend they take little walks during break periods. Investing in office furniture that will assist your employees in feeling healthier is an investment in their future and the future of the company.

Provide Water and Snacks

A granola bar and a water bottle utilized as a great way to keep energized and productive at work. As previously mentioned, an investment in the health and well-being of your employees is an investment in the company. The chances that most of your employees drink coffee to provide an initial boost for early mornings or late nights are high. Ensuring that your company provides them with a fresh source of water will assist your employees in staying hydrated, which has been proven to improve memory retention. As the working day progresses, and your employees are deep into their work, they may forget to eat and stay hydrated. Providing healthy snacks like fruit trays is important to consider, as well as sweeter treats like cookies or doughnuts to satisfy their sweet tooths. Hunger is known to decrease levels of consciousness and alertness, and if your employees skip breakfast or lunch they may not be working at 100%. Keeping water and snacks on board at all times allows your employees to eat and drink as they please, which will improve focus and morale.

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