Our ability to concentrate at work is influenced by many factors. This can include:
- loud colleagues
- bright lights
- construction noises
- frequent interruptions
- a messy desk.
Any of these sound familiar? These distractions are often heightened for those with mental health conditions and neurodevelopmental disorders, like autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
But whether you’re living with these challenges or not, staying focused at work can be tough. To increase productivity and maintain attention, it’s essential to give our brain the conditions it needs to focus. Here are simple ways to overcome common distractors, reduce stress, and benefit from better job satisfaction.
4 ways to focus at work
Procrastination is a common struggle. But for individuals with ADHD and other learning disabilities, it can have a significant impact on daily life. With difficulty focusing, organizing tasks and managing time, some might find themselves always putting off important assignments or tasks. Procrastination can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety, as well as poor work performance. But there are simple ways to avoid procrastination, and ultimately improve quality of life.
- Identify times during the day when you feel most effective and do the most difficult tasks during those times.
- Divide heavy tasks into smaller, achievable goals. Small steps make it easier to start a new activity.
- Associate a pleasant task with a difficult one, to make the latter more enjoyable.
Daydreaming is natural and can even be beneficial at times. But when it starts to interfere with your work, it's important to take steps to regain your focus. With a little practice and patience, you can learn to stay present and productive, even when you’re dealing with distractions.
- Get up every time you realize you are daydreaming.
- Refocus on your task and get back to work as soon as you can.
- If you want to finish daydreaming before restarting work, finish it anywhere except in front of your desk.
- Write a checkmark on a post-it each time you get up, so you can keep track of your progress.
Want your daydreaming habit to fade? It’s important to apply this method whenever you become aware of it.
Saying no to intrusive thoughts
When it comes to effective work performance, intrusive thoughts can be a major roadblock. Worries, concerns and even painful memories can creep up and distract us. These thoughts can persist and be very disruptive, making it hard to concentrate on work. What's worse, they can cause significant distress and exacerbate existing mental health conditions.
If you’re struggling with intrusive thoughts, it's important to take a step back and think about how they're affecting you at work – and outside of work too. If you need support speak to your doctor or a mental health provider that offers cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).