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Top 10 Ways to Stay Focused at Work


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Distraction happens. Especially if you are a part of the four percent of U.S. adults who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Your attention span is shorter, you feel the constant need to move around and you are one co-worker office visit away from never being able to focus on your tasks again.  Sitting down and working for eight hours just seems like a nightmare sometimes.

If this sounds like you, you may want to talk about it with your doctor to see if you could have ADHD. Some of these symptoms may just be a part of being human. For those with mild ADHD and those who have a restless brain, sometimes a few non-medicinal tricks can help you stay focused at work.

  1. Figure out what distracts you.

We all have different weaknesses. Facebook, Twitter, chatting with co-workers and awesome fidget spinner tricks are all great, but they are the enemy when it comes to being productive. So figure out what your kryptonite is and plan how you can avoid wasting your time on it.

  1. Make a list.

Every day, make a list of obtainable goals. What do you want to have done when you leave the office? Write these down and cross them off as you complete each task (it’s surprisingly satisfying).

  1. Tackle the big stuff first.

It’s pretty tempting to start with the small stuff so it feels like you are getting more done. But all you are doing is draining your energy on busy work. You have the most mental energy when you start your day, so use that time to your advantage. Get creative, do some problem solving and think critically while you have the best focus.

  1. Make it bite-sized.

Though tasks that require more energy need to be done early in your day, they can seem pretty daunting. It all depends on how you look at it. Instead of taking on a task as one big scary project, try dividing it into smaller sub-tasks and complete the project one sub-task at a time. Not quite as scary anymore, right

  1. Do the dreaded deeds.

You know what we’re talking about. The … interesting client you don’t want to call. The presentation you don’t want to practice for. The gigantic excel sheet you need to put together. We get it. While these tasks aren’t the best part of your job, make an effort to get them off your list. Once they are done, your stress levels will decrease significantly so you can focus on getting more done.

  1. Keep it clean.

A clean work area is a happy work area! Your sub-conscious may be interpreting your gallery of old sticky notes and snack wrapper pile as tasks that aren’t getting done. Do yourself a favor and clear away the clutter. Throw away papers you don’t need and maybe even clear some emails. If nothing else, you will just feel better.

  1. Take a breather (or 10).

Reward yourself after you finish a task with a break. Listen to some music for a few minutes, take a short walk or go get yourself that cookie you have been craving. This gives your brain some time to rest and re-focus.

  1. Take notes.

Most meetings are scientifically proven to be boring (or they might as well be). It’s too easy for your mind to shift to important topics such as dinner and the earliest time you can take a nap. You can help your brain stay on track by taking notes during meetings to follow along.

  1. Pre-game with some breakfast.

After sleeping, your body hasn’t taken in any nutrients for hours. Your body is running on empty, and skipping breakfast means you start your day without replenishing your energy. We know it’s hard, but wake up and give yourself plenty of time in the mornings to eat a good breakfast. Your body will thank you.

  1. Just add water.

Drink your brain juice! Water makes up 85 percent of the brain, and it depends on having an abundant supply of water. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average adult loses more than 80 ounces of water a day through sweating, breathing and elimination wastes. All that water needs to be replenished or you risk dehydration and mediocre brain power.

Bonus: Wear headphones (the ultimate “don’t bother me” disguise).

Co-workers are great, but sometimes they really like to talk, and you have things to do. Here is a trick: wear headphones. This sends a signal to your chatty co-workers that you are in the zone and need to be left alone. Not all will get the signal, but most should get the idea. If you are easily distracted, don’t even listen to music. Just keep the headphones on for effect.

While these tips can be helpful for those who may not need medication, always speak to your doctor to figure out what practices are right for you.

Need a doctor? Search our provider directory to find a doctor near you.

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