If you find it hard to stay focused while at work and having trouble concentrating, don’t feel too bad. The average person spends approximately 46.5% of their waking hours daydreaming.
We’ll be covering the benefits of staying focused at work, what causes a wandering mind, and ways to increase your focus and concentration while working.
The Benefits of Staying Focused
You may think that you’re fine just the way you are, but increasing your ability to concentrate can only help. In fact, there are many sustainable and proven benefits. When you learn how to stay focused longer at work, you will find that you have more:
Improving your focus is a learned skill. By practicing, you can significantly improve your ability to concentrate. It does take some effort, but so does pretty much every other skill out there! If you want to achieve greatness, whether that be as an athlete, musician, or chef, you must practice. Of course, there are some people born with natural ability, but even these lucky few must develop their talent.
As you practice on focusing and concentrating, you will improve your self-discipline in a few ways. The first is that you will be able to concentrate much more effectively. This, in itself, is a great display of willpower. The second is the act of consistently practicing focus will set a precedent, making other tasks that require self-discipline much easier to achieve.
Would you like to be referred to as the ray of sunshine around your office? Or be that kind of person who always seems to radiate happiness? It is not as difficult as you might think – you just need to learn how to stay focused while at work.
If your mind is unfocused, it is much more susceptible to negative thinking. If you continually let your mind wander, it is bound to make its way to the gloomy parts of life every now and then.
By improving your concentration skills, you will be better equipped to swat away any bad thoughts as they arise.
It is no surprise that people who are more focused are also more successful. If you are happy, you will work harder and naturally be more productive. If you have master level self-discipline, you will be able to push through to meet your goals. Even the ones that you may find mundane, but are very important.
Focus has many benefits, but improved levels of happiness, incredible self-discipline, and success are at the top of our list.
What Causes Daydreaming?
While we’re going to cover why your mind wanders, it is essential to mention that daydreaming is not always a bad thing. It can only become a real problem when it affects your work or impacts your quality of life. Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s dive into the causes behind daydreaming.
In reality, the reason our minds wander from time to time is not entirely understood. One thing that researchers do understand, however, is a function of the brain known as the default mode network, also known as DMN.
The DMN is a system of connected regions within the human brain that tend to increase in activity when our minds aren’t focused on a particular task. Researchers have found that when a person is daydreaming, the DMN system is firing on all cylinders.
With that being said, we know that the key to increasing focus is taking control over the default mode network. An experienced individual with incredible concentration can quickly recognize when the DMN has taken over, and they can immediately return their attention to the task at hand.
So how does one gain control over their DMN and learn how to stay focused at work? We have a few simple tactics for you.
5 Tactics to Stay Focused at Work
We’ve covered the benefits to increased focus levels. At this point, you’re probably interested in improving your concentration levels, but not sure where to start. Here are some proven ways to help improve your focus while at work.
1. Remove Any Distractions
This first tip is super applicable and easy to achieve. To improve your focus levels, simply physically remove any distractions from your work environment. For example, if you’re working on a big project that needs every bit of your attention, turn off your phone and set all email notifications to silent or do not disturb.
In today’s day and age we are always connected and being distracting by alerts, but don’t worry every single text and notification will be waiting for you once you’re done working on that big project.
Research has shown that it takes the human mind approximately 23 minutes to refocus after it’s been interrupted. If you are continually receiving messages or notifications throughout the day, you will not be nearly as productive as you could be.
2. Give Your Mind a Break
While it may seem counterintuitive, giving your mind a break now and then can actually increase your concentration levels.
Your brain is hardwired to respond to any change and will naturally treat constant stimulation as unimportant. Think about the shoes you’re wearing right now. You probably were not actively aware that they are putting pressure on your feet until we brought your attention to the fact. It is not that you can’t feel that you’re wearing shoes; it is merely that your brain has become so used to the feeling that it no longer focuses on it.
The same thing can happen when it comes to your mind. After a while, your brain will register the task you’re working on as unimportant. So the simple fix is to take a break every now and then. Research has shown that short breaks allow the mind to regain focus on the task at hand.
3. Set Aside Time to Daydream
As we mentioned earlier, daydreaming is not a bad thing. Instead, in the right situation, daydreaming can be a very positive activity. It can improve your creativity, productivity, as well as empathy. Rather than restricting this critical process, set aside a more appropriate time for it.
Thinking about the future or reliving your past will not help you get your work done more efficiently – it will merely hinder the process. So be sure to put those thoughts on hold until a more appropriate time such as during your lunch break or once work is completed.
4. Perform Daily Meditation
Meditation has become increasingly popular over the past few decades. Business leaders, actors, artists all regularly practice it. Yet somehow, meditation remains a complete mystery to a majority of people. Many believe that it’s a strange spiritual practice, but in reality, meditation has many benefits, including a more focused mind.
Let’s put it into perspective – if you want to improve your physical fitness, you have to go to the gym to exercises your muscles to become bigger or stronger. The same principles can apply to your mind. To improve your focused, you need to exercise your mind, and meditation will help you do this.
Not only can meditation help you improve your focus, but it can also reduce stress levels, symptoms of burnout along with improving sleep habits, and increasing a person’s compassion levels. These are some great additional benefits of meditation.
If meditation is a bit intimidating to you, and you have no idea where to start, use an app such as Headspace or Calm to guide you through the process.
5. Regularly Practice Focusing
Finally, if you want to learn how to stay focused while at work, you have to commit to practicing it regularly.
As we mentioned earlier, focus is a skill that is learned and developed. While the act of concentrating comes naturally for some, there is still hope for the rest, but will require a little extra effort.
So do your best to remind yourself regularly to practice on focusing. Use the tactics outlined in this article to help keep you on track. When you find that you’re distracted, remind your mind to stay present, and focus on the task at hand.
With practice and time, we do not doubt that you will significantly improve your focusing skill and become a concentration master while at work.