It’s 2 p.m. and you sit in front of your computer with a fresh cup of coffee. Maybe the caffeine will help you push through the afternoon slump. You open up the document you’re reviewing and your phone buzzes. You glance at the screen—it’s a notification from your weather app. You turn back to your computer. But then you think, “I wonder if it’s supposed to rain this weekend?” You open the weather app and look at the upcoming forecast. No rain. Maybe you’ll grill some burgers on Saturday. “What if there’s a better technique to get the perfect burger?” Without thinking, you watch a couple of BBQ experts on YouTube. As you watch this pitmaster take a bite of the best burger you’ve ever seen, your stomach growls. It’s been a few hours since you had lunch. You just need a good snack and then you’ll be ready to work. Before you know it, you’ve wasted too much time and feel even more tired than you did before your “break.”
An article in Psychology Today explains that every time you focus your attention on something, you use up a significant amount of glucose. By the time you return your attention to a work project, you have less glucose and therefore, less energy. The more times you change your focus, the less capacity you have to retain information, make decisions, think clearly, and work efficiently.
So, how can you reduce distractions and increase productivity? Put these 6 things into practice and you’ll find a sustained energy level throughout your day that allows you to not only accomplish the tasks before you but do them well and do them proficiently.
1. Turn Off Notifications
If you were cutting out sugar from your diet, you would not carry around your favorite candy bar, placing it next to your plate of vegetables. So, if you’re trying to focus, it’s just as absurd to keep your phone screen-up, notifications on, next to you. You will improve your mental performance by simply switching your phone to “do not disturb” and putting it away: whether that’s in another room, your desk drawer, or in your bag. Set your phone to go to voicemail and close your email tab. Give your brain the gift of concentrating on one specific task without any interruptions.
2. Walk Away
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is walk away from your computer screen. Research shows that taking breaks is crucial to working efficiently and preventing burnout. The average person can concentrate on a single task for 75-90 minutes. After that, at least 15 minutes is necessary to retain information, clear your mind, and renew your energy levels. So, set a timer and trust that taking a break and walking away from your desk will actually improve your work, not take away from it.
3. Include Exercise
If you sit at a desk for the majority of your day, try going for a walk, stretching, or working out during your lunch break. When you complete a task, reward yourself by playing with your pet, your kids, or dancing to your favorite song. Exercise boosts your energy and releases stress.
4. Go Outside
Research shows that being outdoors reduces stress, heart rate, and blood pressure. It brightens your mood and improves your mental health. When you’re feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, step outside to clear your mind. Take a few deep breaths, focus on what you see and hear, enjoy the green spaces around you, and head back to your work with a renewed sense of calm.
5. Change Scenery
If you find yourself stuck or feeling fatigued during the workday, try moving to a new spot. Sometimes changing our physical surroundings gives us a fresh perspective. If you’re working from home in a makeshift office, but feel distracted by the dishes in the sink, move to another room that feels clean or orderly. Or chase the sunshine. Move to areas of your house or office throughout the day that usher in natural light. A new location, a different view, a more comfortable seat may be just what you need to tackle an issue from a different angle.
6. Use Your Mind and Your Hands
Rather than fighting through a work slump with sugar or caffeine, try doing something with your hands. If you’re on a call that doesn’t require undivided attention, turn your camera off and fold laundry, wash dishes, or prep dinner. You can renew your energy by doing physical activities while you engage your mind. Just be sure you let others know you are stepping away from your desk so you can boost your energy and finish the workday strong.
Rather than allowing distractions to rule your world and deplete your energy reserves, try implementing some of these activities. They may help you and your teamwork smarter. If you have questions about tools and resources to improve your company’s culture, communication, and efficiency, contact Front Line Leadership today.