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Improve Your Concentration in 5 Ways
Thursday, March 01, 2012

The average length of a person's attention span is roughly 20 minutes so it's no wonder you find yourself snapping out of a daze in the middle of the workday. Some people have a hard time just retaining their focus for those 20 minutes but no energy drink or amount of caffeine can give you the focus of a bomb detonator.

No one can be expected to remain 100% focused throughout the entire workday, otherwise there would be no need for lunch break. Who's cares about food when all you can think about is the task for hours at a time? In reality, that doesn't happen, sooner or later you're bound to get hungry or distracted and have your thoughts taken over by miscellaneous thoughts. Here are some ways to help keep you on track when you're struggling to do more than stare at your screen.

1) Create a To-Do list
Right when you get in, if you don't already know what you're supposed to be doing, get a list together of what you want to get done that day--for the rest of the week even. Once you have a plan of what your agenda looks like you canget right on it and have something to refer back to when your mind gets lost while wandering. Your to-do list also gets you going right away when you have what you have your tasks listed right in front of you. You'll have no reason at this point to get distracted.

2) Save personal email for later
Checking personal email right when you get can be distracting for hours making it hard to build momentum for getting any work done. Instead, get right on a task until you feel that you can no longer go, then refresh yourself by switching over to--no, not your email--another task. You'll find it easier to get more done in more time and still have time to check your email later on in the day, like just before your lunch break.

Looking at it the first thing when  you get in can get you side tracked before even getting started. Starting your day this way will commence a domino effect of reading one thing that leads to another which then leads to doing some unrelated work research that gets you looking into something else you saw and so on.

3) Plug in and tune out
Listening to music can be helpful but make a good choice. Your number one preferance may not be classical but have you ever noticed how it doesn't make you feel like you're doing your work in the middle of a mosh pit? Choose music without a lot of lyrics because the words will take your thoughts off track. Or, if sound is way too distracting whether it be music or just the sound of others typing, plug in your ear buds to keep the sound out and keep your concentration going.

4) Just 5 more...
It's like when you think you just can't take another step during a run but you keep pushing yourself just a little bit further and you realize that if you can go that much further maybe you can go a little more...and a little more. If you do it enough pretty soon the sky's the limit. The same goes for your concentration and focus. If you continue working at it and tell yourself to stay the course, you will and that momentum will build up again. Don't fall for the temptation of checking statuses or chatting with someone. Doing that will only perpetuate your habit of doing five minutes of work and 10 minutes of whatever else.

5) Make work fun
This may sound cliche but if you think of work as work it's no wonder you're less than willing to jump right into it. We're raised in a world where work is a a four-letter word (even though it technically is). Most of us grow up hating to do homework and that disliking of doing work tends stays with us throughout our lives.

But life can't all be play, we need to put something in to get a reward. Remeber,no one is forcing you to do anything. You applied for the job so you should be more than happy to do it. Whatever your position, they put you in charge of getting it done so take the bull by the horns instead of feeling at like you're doing chores. Conquer your work, don't let it conquer you.

Focusing at work doesn't have to be a challenge. Everyone needs a mental break once in a while but there's a difference between break and vacation. It's easy to get drawn away from your tasks but when it happens more than it should it can be a problem in getting any work done. The main thing to remember is that you should always look forward to getting things done and reaching those goals whether they be your own or your company's. You are your only obstacle.