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Get Focused

Your phone pings—you have a new message. A box pops up on your computer screen—you have a new email. A colleague stops by—you want to chat about your weekend. When will you ever be able to get work done? Studies show that today’s workers are being interrupted more than ever, which affects not only productivity but also mental health. Try these tips for getting back in focus and ensuring you’re making the most of your time spent at the office.

1. Take a Break

When your brain starts to get fuzzy, take a short break. Stand up and move away from your desk. Head to the water cooler for a drink, climb a flight of stairs, or walk around the block. You’ll come back feeling energized and ready to concentrate again.

2. Got Rhythm

Learn your body’s natural rhythm and work with it. Schedule important projects when you are most alert—for many people that is from midmorning to lunchtime and from

3 p.m. to early evening. But if you work better at other times of the day, plan accordingly. Save email or rote tasks for times when you are feeling more tired.

3. Happy Place

Make your work area a place where you can actually settle in and get things done. Start by tidying up your physical and digital desktops. Add a few personal items to make the space your own. Bringing nature indoors can help reduce mental fatigue, so invest in a potted plant or move your desk closer to a window where you can enjoy the view.

4. Silent Treatment

Constant notifications destroy concentration, so assess each of your apps and tools and then set notifications accordingly. You might even try Do Not Disturb mode for specific periods of time. To compensate, set predetermined times to check and respond to email, text messages, and social media.

5. First Things First

What are the three most important things you need to do today? Write those things on a sticky note so you can see them. Make a separate list for other tasks and do them after you’ve accomplished your vital goals. If you’re overwhelmed by a big project, break it up into more manageable parts.

6. Do Not Disturb

Block out meeting-free times on your calendar and find a way to let your coworkers know you’re “in the zone”—or at least trying to get there. Your signal can be something as simple as putting on headphones or closing your door. If you work in an open-plan office, occasionally move to a quieter space, such as a conference room, to work.

7. Fill the Tank

Healthy choices have a direct effect on your ability to focus. Eat a balanced diet, including “brain foods” such as leafy green vegetables and berries, and don’t skip meals. Instead of reaching for a chocolate bar midafternoon, grab some fresh fruit or veggies or a handful of nuts. Stay hydrated. And never underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep.

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Written by Shirleen Saunders

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