Focusing at work can be tough, especially when you have a lot that needs to get done, a million distractions buzzing around in your head, and a demanding job. We’re going to give 25 proven tips on how to focus better at work so you can increase your productivity and output while reducing stress and anxiety.
1. Try A Productivity Technique to Keep you On Task
There are quite a few productivity techniques out there that are designed to help you avoid distractions and keep you on task. Our favorites are the Pomodoro technique and the Kanban method. The Pomodoro technique is a time management method that involves setting a timer for 25 minutes, working throughout that time, then taking a short 3-5 minute break after. Once you have repeated this for four cycles, you take a longer 30-minute break before jumping back in. Next time you find yourself wondering how to focus better at work consider trying this method.
2. Stay Hydrated
This is so simple but important! Let’s look at some facts
- 75 Percent of Americans Are Chronically Dehydrated
- Dehydration Causes Fatigue
- Dehydration Causes Foggy Memory, Irritability, Sleepiness, and Kills Productivity
- Staying Hydrated Can Boost Your Metabolism
The only downside to staying hydrated is the more frequent bathroom breaks, but taking a break every hour or so is a great tip for how to focus better at work anyways.
3. Avoid Sugar Before Noon
This can be tough, especially for those of us that like cream and sugar in our morning cup of coffee, but consuming sugar early in the morning can lead to crashing in the late morning and afternoon. If you are someone who feels sluggish or tired several hours into the workday, consider eliminating sugar in your diet before lunch. At the very least, it may be a healthy change to your diet that brings with it other benefits.
4. Skip Breakfast (And Maybe Even Lunch)
It takes a lot of energy to digest food. Starting your day with a big meal can slow you down right from the start. Skipping breakfast altogether is a viable option for helping you focus at work that works for many people. In fact, clinical research shows that intermittent fasting, where you don’t eat for the majority of the day, can have positive benefits on mood, energy levels, and weight loss.
5. Drink (Bulletproof) Coffee
We all know caffeine can help give you a boost of energy and focus in the morning, but it also accompanied by a crash later in the day. This leads to many people drinking coffee all day long, which will eventually lead to caffeine tolerance and/or dependence. Some people have found that by adding coconut oil or MCT oil (called bulletproof coffee) to their coffee in the morning they avoid the crash. While there isn’t any scientific evidence to back this up, it may be worth a try. Additionally, adding coconut oil or MCT oil to your coffee may help you replace breakfast and avoid consuming sugar in the mornings.
6. Get Inspired
Ask yourself what you stand to gain by staying focused at work and doing your job well. Are you working for a promotion? Do you get a bonus for high performance? Do you take pride in the quality of your work? Being in touch with these things can help you stay focused on your work.
7. Try Timeular
You may find yourself needing a more tactile and novel approach to stay focused at work. Timeular has designed a table-top time-tracking device that connects to your smartphone and helps you track where you’re spending your time. By collecting data on where you spend your time, you can take a more data-driven approach to productivity and staying focused at work.
8. Loosen Up (Stretch, Yoga, Massage, Sauna, Magnesium)
Stretching regularly can help you avoid having tight uncomfortable muscles. If you find yourself constantly shifting in your chair to relieve muscle tension, consider a daily, or nightly stretching routine. Yoga, massages, sauna sessions, and even ice baths can provide lasting relief as well. If you still find yourself having a lot of muscle tightness and tension, you may have a magnesium deficiency. Supplementing Magnesium has been linked to muscle relaxation as well as numerous other health benefits including fighting depression and relieving migraines. Being uncomfortable, stiff, or sore is a huge distraction that can make it difficult to focus at work.
9. Get An Ergonomic Chair and Desk Setup
In relation to the last point of being uncomfortable while working, having a comfortable, ergonomic chair and desk can do wonders for keeping you focused while at work. Consider splurging on a more expensive, high-quality office chair that will support your back properly. You may also want to consider a standing desk so you can alternate between standing and sitting when you get tired of one. Think of it as an investment in your health and wellness, especially since you may be spending upwards of eight hours per day in your chair.
10. Maintain A Healthy Diet
Maintaining a healthy diet can help you focus better at work by making you feel better all around. A lot of distractions that pull away your focus can be diet-related such as lethargy, headaches, sleepiness, restlessness, and anxiety. Working on your overall health is a great way to feel better at work and improve your focus and productivity.
11. Keep Work Journal
Having trouble focusing but not sure why? Keeping a log of your productivity, focus, and feelings throughout the day can help you pinpoint what is causing you to have trouble focusing. You may find that your focus fades sharply at 3 pm every day, something that could be remedied by taking a quick break at 2:45, getting an ice-cold glass of water, and doing a few quick stretches. You may also find that keeping a work journal helps you become more organized and productive.
12. Keep an Organized To-Do List
If journaling isn’t your thing, keeping a well-prioritized to-do list can be another simple way to remain on task. Always knowing what needs to be done next can help you keep a good flow and rhythm throughout the day. Try prioritizing your list every single morning before you start, and every afternoon/evening when you leave. Be diligent about adding and updating your list throughout the day. Crossing things off the list can be very satisfying!
13. Keep Your Workspace Tidy
Keeping your workspace tidy helps you stay in a good mood, can reduce anxiety, and avoid interruptions in your workflow. You don’t want to interrupt your work to get up and find a pen just because your desk is messy. Nor do you want to be in a stressful situation where you need a specific document and can’t find it because it’s lost in a pile of folders in a drawer somewhere.
14. Avoid Distracting Websites
If you find yourself spending too much time on sites like Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter turn off your notifications for those sites and mobile apps so you aren’t tempted to look at them. Exercising a little bit of conscious self-control should be enough for most people, however, if you are really having trouble avoiding these sites, you may consider blocking them or adding an internet filter so you cannot visit them.
15. Block Off “Heads-Down” Time on Your Calendar
A lot of times you may have so many meetings get booked on your calendar that you find you don’t have time to do your actual work. Blocking off 1-2 hours for heads-down work can help avoid “meeting creep” that takes your focus away from your work and productivity. Most companies and managers are respectful of this if you explain to them rationally why you need to block out this time.
16. Avoid Chatty Coworkers
There always seems to be that one chatty coworker in every office. A great way to politely get them to go away is to walk to get up and walk to the water cooler or water fountain while talking with them, then stop by their desk on the way back. Most of the time they will sit right back down in their chair without realizing what just happened. Then you can politely end the conversation and head back to your desk. If you have a particularly clingy coworker you may need to politely let them know you are very busy and don’t have time to talk.
17. Wear Headphones
This tip on how to focus better at work is particularly effective when it comes to the previous scenario of avoiding chatty coworkers. By wearing headphones, however, you potentially avoid all external distractions including noisy talkers, loud typers, phones ringing, etc.
18. Listen to Podcasts, Music, eBooks
The advantage of wearing headphones at work means you can listen to music to help you focus or, alternatively, a podcast or eBook to either help pass the time or educate yourself on your topic of choice. If the nature of your work allows you to work quietly by yourself, eBooks, podcasts, and music can all help you focus better at work.
19. Turn Off Notifications
There’s a common theme with many of these tips for how to focus better at work that involves eliminating distractions. Today, our phones are one of our biggest and most present distractions. Turning off notifications can make you feel anxious that you’re potentially missing out on something, but once you get in the groove you’ll most likely forget about your phone altogether.
20. Hide Your Phone
If turning off notifications isn’t enough, and you just can’t resist the urge to look at your phone, then hiding it out of sight may help you stay focused. Putting it in a drawer, your bag, or just out of reach on your desk can suffice.
Meditating doesn’t always require scented candles and peaceful sounds. Taking a few moments to close your eyes and clear your head, even if it’s on your lunch break, can benefit your productivity later on. Not to mention you’ll probably find it also helps reduce stress and anxiety.
22. Keep An OTC Pain-Killer Nearby
Sometimes you just get a headache, and nothing kills motivation, focus, and productivity like a bad migraine. Keeping some aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen handy can help you knock out that headache ASAP so you can get back to focusing.
23. Knockout the Annoying Things First
Chances are there are some tasks you have to do every single day that are not fun. Try knocking those out in the morning so you don’t have them weighing on your mind all day long. Whether it’s responding to emails or submitting your expense reports, it can help to cross them off the list sooner rather than later.
24. Get More Sleep
Not getting enough sleep causes all sorts of health issues including hurting your ability to focus and concentrate. You may think you feel fine on 6 hours of sleep, but you might be surprised by how great you feel on 8 or more hours of sleep for a consistent period of time.
Sweating regularly has been linked to many health, physical, physiological, and psychological benefits. Sitting in a sauna regularly is considered quite healthy, and we know that better health often leads to better mental performance.
26. Workout Break
At my last office job, my boss was an avid runner who managed to squeeze 5 to 7 miles into his lunch break every day. While this is a bit of an extreme case it does go to show that even if you only get an hour for lunch, you can probably manage to get some exercise in. Working out releases endorphins that can make you feel good for the rest of the day, helping you focus better at work.
27. Ice Water
A cup of ice-cold water can help shock your nervous system and increase wakefulness and alertness. If you find yourself getting sleepy, keeping a glass of ice-cold water nearby can help you stay focused, awake, and hydrated.
28. Eliminate Distractions
No matter how focused you are at work, your productivity will plummet if you keep getting distracted. Consider silencing your phone and putting in a place that is out of sight and out of reach. Make sure you have everything you need for a task before getting started, so you don’t have to interrupt your work to go get it.
29. Mix Brain-Boosting Foods Into Your Diet
Green tea is one of the best foods/drinks for fighting stress and anxiety and increasing focus while increasing focus due to its L-Theanine content. L-Theanine is a natural amino acid found primarily in green and black teas that have been linked to several brain-boosting health benefits including reduced anxiety, lower stress levels, increased focus, and better sleep quality.
Turmeric is touted as a brain-boosting food/supplement because of its high curcumin content. Curcumin is the yellow pigment of the turmeric flower that is commonly used as a spice in Indian food (curry). It is commonly used as a nootropic substance for its strong anti-inflammatory and anxiety-reducing properties. Curcumin is not absorbed by the body effectively unless it is combined with piperine, a substance commonly found in black pepper, so if you add turmeric or curcumin to your food, make sure to add some black pepper as well. Along the same line, if you purchase a turmeric or curcumin supplement, make sure it also includes piperine.
30. Boost Your Brain Health With Nootropics
An area a lot of people ignore when it comes to health is their mind. Often times stress, anxiety, brain fog, and depression can get the best of us. While eating healthy, exercising, and getting better sleep can help with all of these things, sometimes you need that extra boost of focus, concentration or motivation to get yourself to the gym, get to bed on time, or maintain a disciplined diet. That’s where nootropics can help. Nootropics are a class of brain-boosting supplements often taken to help improve mental cognition, memory, concentration, alertness, sleep quality, and anxiety/stress levels. It’s important to know that not all nootropics are the same; some are natural compounds found in nature, while others are synthetic drugs designed to change the chemical balance in your brain. Some are well-researched and very safe, while others are new and untested. I have personally devoted a lot of time and energy to discover the safest and most effective nootropic products on the market. If your interest is piqued, I would recommend checking out nootropicsresource.com to learn more about nootropics. If you’re looking for a quick nootropic product recommendation I would checkout TruBrain or MUD\\WTR; both are very popular, high-quality products.
31. Build Good Habits
Hacking your habits is the single biggest productivity hack there is, but it can be really, really hard. On average it takes 66 days to form a habit, meanwhile, studies have found that 36 percent of new years resolutions are abandoned before February. Why? Because it’s still hard after 3 or 4 weeks. If you want to hack your productivity in 2020, decide that you’re going to commit long term. Whether it’s working on your side project for 2 hours per day after work, getting to the gym every day, or just waking up 30 minutes earlier, this means you need to make it to mid-April before you even consider quitting, and that’s if you’re the average person.
32. Break Bad Habits
The exact same 66-day average rule goes for breaking habits as well. Take some time to recognize the things that are holding you back and decide you’re going to commit to at least 66 days of breaking the habit. Are you staying up too late? Are you eating horribly? Do you depend on 4+ cups of coffee to get through the day? Do you keep your living areas clean? All these habits can be re-trained over time, but it takes much longer than you think to get on auto-pilot
33. Add a Productivity Boosting Supplement
Millions of people enjoy the performance and productivity-enhancing characteristics of caffeine every day. But did you know there is an entire class of both natural and synthesized drugs known as ‘nootropics’ that are intended to boost brain function? Consider adding a natural nootropic such as L-Theanine to your daily routine. L-Theanine is a natural amino acid found in green tea that when taken orally in concentrated doses improves focus and reduces anxiety. L-Theanine is commonly taken in conjunction with caffeine for their synergistic effects of boosting productivity.
34. Dress in Layers
If you aren’t in control of the air conditioning in your office or workspace then make sure to dress in layers. Being uncomfortably cold or hot can be a major distraction that keeps you from focusing better at work. If you wear multiple layers, you can adjust to your surrounding temperature accordingly.