We’ve all experienced it: sitting in your home office with a rapidly approaching deadline and a wandering mind. Despite your efforts, you’re not progressing on your tasks. You need to focus on the work in front of you, and you’re motivated, but you simply can’t concentrate.
In today’s working environment, it’s easy to get distracted. There is so much going on around you, and you may not have that quiet space you get in a traditional office. It can lead you to wonder how you’ll keep up with your tasks.
So, if you’re wondering how to improve focus and concentration as you work, you’re in the right spot. We’ll outline several benefits of learning how to improve focus at work, distractions to watch out for, and much more.
Importance of Focus and Concentration While Working Remotely
Remote work has the potential to unlock improved focus for your team. One study from Stanford shows that 22% of remote workers are more productive than those who go into the office in person. But, working remotely also poses a unique set of challenges you usually don’t have to worry about in a traditional office setting. For starters, there are potentially more distractions to contend with daily. You may not have a dedicated office space where you can isolate yourself from day-to-day life. This can inhibit your concentration and focus and impact your work quality.
You want to complete your projects on time and even go above and beyond the standards to keep your clients and managers happy. To do so, you must understand what focus and concentration are and how to improve them. In short, concentration is the ability to control where you direct your attention. Focus is a thinking skill that helps you start your tasks without stalling and keeps your attention on them until you're finished. Without healthy focus habits, it’s virtually impossible to accomplish your goals and get your work done in a timely manner.
Benefits of Improving Focus and Concentration
Concentration is what allows you to make the best use of your resources and be more efficient when you approach your problems. Concentrating on the task at hand makes you much less likely to miss critical details. Staying focused will help you remember things better and stay on task.
Knowing this, it makes sense that there are several benefits to learning how to improve focus and concentration at work, including:
- Better Memory – Focusing on a project allows you to commit the small details to memory, so you’re not constantly going back and rereading things.
- Reduced Stress – When you work on more than one project at a time, your stress levels go into overdrive. Learning to focus on one thing at a time will reduce your stress. It can also help you finish tasks and check them off your list, so you’re not left with a never-ending to-do list.
- Enhances Momentum – When you see you’re working through your list and checking things off, you are more motivated to keep this momentum going. Seeing progress encourages you to work harder and keep going through your tasks with a positive mindset.
Identify and Eliminate Distractions
Even if you have a dedicated office at home, working remotely has many more distractions than you’d experience in a traditional cubicle or office environment. These distractions may derail your normal routine, so learning to identify and get ahead of them will help you learn how to improve focus at work and bring to light the numerous benefits of working remotely.
Common Sources of Distraction at Work
While the distractions will vary from person to person, there are a few core ones that seem to apply to almost every situation, including:
- Family Member Interruptions – Many people mistakenly think that working from home gives them open access to you during the workday. Each time they interrupt you, it breaks your concentration and throws off your rhythm.
- External Noise – While offices aren’t 100% quiet, they are usually much quieter than working remotely. Family members going about their daily lives, neighbors being outside, and more can all contribute to a noisy work area.
- Social Media – You typically don’t have the social media restrictions on your home device as you would on a work computer. So, it’s easy to go online and get distracted browsing social media or your favorite websites.
Create a Conducive Work Environment
Creating a conducive work environment is a cornerstone in learning how to improve concentration and focus. The first thing you want to do is remove any potential distractions from the space. One of the biggest distractions is your phone, so try to keep it out of reach in a drawer, even if it’s necessary for your work.
Do everything you can to make your face feel like a workspace, including good lighting and office furniture, like a table and chair. Get all of your necessary supplies and tools in one spot and take time to organize them all. This way, you don’t spend time looking for paper, pens, or other things. In addition, organizing everything cuts down on the time you spend wandering around the house when you should be working. Make sure you have all the equipment needed for virtual meetings set up and easily accessible. Once you've established a solid, conducive work environment, you can work on learning how to improve concentration at work, and the tips below should help.
How to Improve Focus and Concentration
Learning to enhance your focus and concentration as you work remotely isn’t something you can achieve overnight. It’s something you work at and improve upon each day. Below are some tips that can help this process move along faster:
Try a virtual office
Many people lose focus due to a phenomenon known as Zoom fatigue. Staring at the same screen, with dragged-on meetings all day, becomes boring and draining. That’s why a solution like using a virtual office for your remote team could greatly improve focus. Communication is much easier, and daily activities like meetings and chats are much more engaging. Consider the many benefits of using a virtual office when thinking about productivity enhancement.
Set Goals and Prioritize Tasks
Each morning, go to your workspace and set goals. Then, create a list of the tasks you have to complete. As you complete your goals and tasks, mark them off. This will give you the motivation to keep working until you finish.
Identify your Long-Term and Short-Term Goals
What are you working towards with your goals? You can easily set daily short-term goals to keep you on task. For example, maybe you have emails you have to send or phone calls to make. For long-term goals, maybe you’re looking at a higher position in your company with a pay increase. When you list them out, this gives you a clear view of what you’re working towards. Categorizing your goals and setting realistic expectations motivates you to keep going!
Prioritize Tasks Based on Importance and Deadline
Each day, take 10 to 15 minutes to go over your task list and then prioritize those tasks based on the due date and importance. This will help you focus on one thing at a time and not get overwhelmed.
Use Concentration Techniques and Take Breaks
Concentration techniques allow you to pull yourself back from distractions and refocus on work. First, take a few seconds to focus on your breathing to recenter yourself. Then, whenever your mind starts to wander, practice your breathing techniques.
You can take short breaks, get up, and walk around to clear your head when you feel overwhelmed. These breaks give you time to destress and focus on something besides your current task. A productive break, like taking a walk outside, is more likely to fuel your workday than a ten-minute social media scroll. When you go back to work after a productive break, you'll have a calm mindset to help you spot solutions more efficiently.
In the morning, divide your day into blocks, each dedicated to one specific task. For example, you could allot an hour in the morning solely dedicated to returning phone calls and emails. Get the small things out of the way to allow you to concentrate on the bigger projects.
Take Regular Breaks and Practice Mindfulness
Every few hours, get up and take a short 3- to 5-minute break. This will allow you to refocus yourself and practice mindfulness. Mindfulness will force you to be present at the moment and help calm your thoughts. One very simple mindfulness exercise is just sitting for 60 seconds.
- Sit straight up in your chair with your feet flat on the ground.
- Close your eyes and rest your hands on the chair’s armrests.
- Focus on your breathing, noting each inhale and exhale.
- Resume your activities after 60 seconds.
Stay Accountable and Review Your Progress
Start holding yourself accountable each day. Did you stick to your schedule? Why or why not? Could you have done something better to make more progress? How far did you get on your project vs. how far did you set out to go? Staying accountable helps you learn, admit to any mistakes, and improve your work ethic. You may need to periodically review your progress and adjust your expectations.
Seek Support from Colleagues, Friends, or a Mentor
If you get stuck, don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, colleagues, or mentors. You can bounce ideas off them or simply vent and get it all out to help clear your head. Your colleagues may also have ideas to help improve focus at work. At the end of the day, it’s the individuals who are part of the larger team who contribute to the team’s morale. It’s in everyone’s best interest to support their colleagues at work and help them become the best employee they can be.
Get More Sleep
You want a solid six to eight hours of sleep a night. If you’re not getting it, try to go to bed earlier and switch off your phone or other devices 45 minutes to an hour before you attempt to sleep. This can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply, boosting your concentration and focus when you work.
Add Green Spaces
Having a few plants in your office or taking a 5- to 10-minute walk out in nature can help reset your thoughts, clear your mind, and prepare you to be productive. As a bonus, some plants can help clean the indoor air to make concentrating easier. If you don’t have access to greens in your home, try decorating your virtual office with greenery to stimulate focus and calmness. Learn how to customize a virtual space that best suits your needs using Kumospace.
Improve Your Diet
Pick foods that help moderate blood sugar levels, fuel your brain, and maintain energy, like vegetables, fruits, and high-fiber foods. Reducing sugary drinks and unhealthy food like chips or candy lessens the risk of you feeling drowsy or dizzy as you work.
The Bottom Line
Learning to improve focus and concentration at work is critical to staying on task and working to the best of your ability. While some challenges may surface, the positives outweigh these difficulties. Remote work is here to stay. So, we encourage you to take the tips we touched upon and put them into practice to see positive results for yourself and your team.
FAQs on Improving Focus
At the core, concentration is the ability to control where you direct your attention at any given point. The benefits of improving your concentration and focus include better memory, less stress, and better momentum while working.
One of the biggest things you can do to improve your focus levels is to cut out as many distractions as possible. Also, taking periodic short breaks and creating a workspace that’s conducive to working will help to improve focus.
Start by creating a schedule each day that lists all the tasks you want to complete and then rank them by priority level and due date. This will give you a clear view of what you should focus on and help you tackle your to-dos to keep you motivated.