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9 Helpful Tips to Improve Focus at Work

9 Helpful Tips to Improve Focus at Work

Written by Emily Spring 

When your desk is clogged with clutter, and your phone is perpetually pinging, the sneaking sense of overwhelm can creep in within the first hour of the workday and leave you paralyzed. Unfortunately, issues with focus and productivity are all-too-common sentiments among today’s workforce.

Various factors, from the visual environment and noise pollution of your office to lifestyle choices starting the night prior, can impact your daily work performance.

Thankfully, most of these elements are within your control.

With your well-being in mind (and your phone on silent), let’s consider the top nine tips for how to stay focused and productive at work.

#1 Identify Your Current State of Focus 

Before making any changes, assess your current work and lifestyle habits. You can reflect on (better yet, write down) answers to the following questions:

  • What is my main distraction throughout the workday?
  • What is my morning routine like? 
  • How do I get better deep sleep at night?  
  • Do I need to change my water or food intake? 
  • How long am I able to work on an important task? You can even break this down between deep work and shallow work.
  • What is my work environment like? (This is especially crucial for remote work.)

#2 Reorganize Your Workstation 

Your physical environment directly influences your productivity. Even if you’ve grown used to the piles of paperwork and collection of coffee cups—a phenomenon called habituation—they may be affecting you and your performance.

Newport Institute confirms that besides negatively impacting your well-being, a cluttered space can cause procrastination, emotional exhaustion, and reduced productivity.1 

To create an environment that supports you, try out some of these organization and decoration tips for your workstation:

  • Clearing Clutter at the End of the Day – Organization of your physical and online spaces will help to give you a sense of order and control. Making it a habit to clean and organize for just 15 minutes at the end of your work day will help keep tomorrow’s clutter at bay.

  • Personalization Whether it’s your favorite book or a photo of your family, personalizing your workspace helps you look forward to sitting down to work.

  • Natural Light – You could be experiencing drowsiness due to insufficient natural light during the workday. If possible, try to work by a window, turn on a natural light lamp, or go outside during breaks.

  • Nature – As not all of us can work outdoors all day, placing tiny plants, fresh flowers, or even a photo of nature on your desk can make a positive difference on your mood.

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    #3 Structure a Supportive Morning Routine  

    A supportive morning routine to make you happy can set the tone for the day. When you intentionally choose what you expose your brain and body to, you have the power to set yourself up for success.

    Positive morning habits prepare us for both the average and the challenging days. Nourishing the body with key nutrients from mushroom gummies can be a quick and easy way to get essential vitamins in. It’s no wonder that high performers, from Olympic athletes to US Navy Seals, dedicate themselves to a calculated morning routine.2 

    To set yourself up for success, avoid the following habits in the morning:

    • Immediately checking your phone in the morning 
    • Waking up to a harsh alarm 
    • Staying inside under artificial light

    Instead, test out some of the following habits:

    • Waiting until you are out of bed or have had breakfast to check your phone 
    • Waking up to a relaxing alarm, like nature sounds, instead of a harsh alarm
    • Going for a short walk outside or in nature 
    • Meditating or journaling

    No need to make it complicated either. A routine as short as 15 to 30 minutes can have a positive impact on how you feel throughout the day.

    #4 Plan Out Your Tasks 

    Without a plan, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, especially with priority tasks. Imagine you have a paper due in three days, with two meetings a day, and emails that demand your attention. Thinking about all of this in one big clump, it’s no wonder that stress quickly comes rolling in.

    To increase confidence in your ability to complete your work on time, break down tasks into smaller tasks, prioritize them, and then schedule them throughout the week. 

    Consider using any of these organizational methods:

    • Online planner or calendar 
    • Organizational software
    • Physical planner
    • Sticky notes

    Scheduling Tip: If you notice that you have more energy in the mornings when you first arrive at work, schedule tasks that require more attention at that time. This way, you can leave the easy-to-check-off tasks for later in the day when you may find it more difficult to focus.

    #5 Schedule Regular Breaks and Spend Them Wisely 

    When you notice yourself losing focus, the best thing to do is take a break. Spend your free time engaging in an activity that allows you to completely disconnect from your work. Especially if you work looking at a screen all day, take short regular breaks after every 60 minutes of work.

    Some break ideas that aren’t sitting at your desk and checking messages include:

    • Going for a walk 
    • Calling a friend 
    • Stretching
    • Enjoying a healthy snack 
    • Meditating 
    • Reading a physical book

    When you regularly set timers to disconnect from your work, you will find it easier to stay focused in the long run.

    #6 Limit Phone Use 

    When you decide to limit time spent on your phone, it’s important to determine when you should use it and for what purpose—especially during work hours. 

    Many of us need to be on our phones during the day, but not at every moment. Determine when you do and when you don’t need to be on your device, as well as what you need to do and what you don’t need to do.

    If you need some positive reinforcement, take advantage of apps that inspire you to stay focused, like Forest. The more timers you set and complete without going on your phone, the more trees you can plant, slowly building your virtual forest.

    #7 Nourish Your Body 

    Getting plenty of sleep, practicing healthy eating habits, and drinking enough water are the bases of optimal performance during the work day. Additionally, look for natural herbal solutions to boost your bodily functions. Did you know that saffron benefits those who have difficulty sleeping?

    Nourish your body and mind by:

    • Eating balanced meals with a high nutritional value 
    • Preparing meals before the work week begins to have healthy, filling meals and snacks on hand 
    • Carrying a large water bottle with you to work for easy refills 
    • Taking herbal supplements for anxiety and stress or better sleep

    #8 Listen to Music 

    When in a busy work environment, listening to soothing or stimulating music can help you focus on tasks. What you listen to is completely up to personal preference and the task you have at hand.

    Here are some popular genres of sounds and music that could help you stay focused and positive during the day:

    • Lofi beats 
    • Nature sounds 
    • Repetitive music, like house or techno 
    • Classical

    If you go for music, opt for a playlist of songs without lyrics as they can distract you.

    #9 Drop into Flow State

    When you are comfortable in your environment, take on one task at a time, and minimize distractions, your overall efficiency in the workplace will see a dramatic shift. Scientists call this state of mind flow state.

    Learning how to drop into a flow state will change the way you work.

    The American Psychological Association confirms that continuously switching between several tasks will reduce your chances of completing them on time.3 This work habit is counterproductive, causing us to make more mistakes and spend more time overall.
    To induce flow, use a combination of these strategies:

    • Minimize interruptions 
    • Break large tasks down into smaller, more manageable ones 
    • Try out the Pomodoro technique of working in 25-minute intervals with 5-minute breaks 
    • Put on headphones while working

    Medical News Today lists the following five signs as proof that you have successfully entered a state of flow:4

  • Lack of Self-Consciousness – You will experience a decrease in “self-referential thinking,” AKA you are less concerned about your performance or how others see you while working.

  • Increased Enjoyment – You may even find yourself enjoying the task at hand, helping you to sink deeper into it.

  • Heightened Endurance – There is evidence to suggest that immersing yourself in the flow state helps prevent frustration during difficult tasks, assisting you to keep going.5

  • Increased Focus – Your phone, coworkers, and even emails are going to have a more difficult time distracting you from your task due to this deeply focused state.

  • Time Moving Quickly – When you focus on one task for a prolonged period of time, you may find yourself finishing things in less time than you expected. 

  • Gradual Improvement, Exponential Results

    Before tackling the workload in front of you with vigor, it’s important to pause and understand the time it takes for personal development and growth. Gradual improvements in each of these areas will compound to have cascading effects on both your work life and personal life.

    That said, improving your focus and increasing your productivity won’t happen in one day.

    Consistency in your new habits, and allowing space for these routines to become concrete, is key. While you try out these healthy working habits, ensure that you’re providing room for success. Try each new habit for two to three weeks before coming to a conclusion.

    Unlock Your Full Potential with Plant People 

    It is possible to achieve work life balance. To become your most focused and productive version of yourself, you need to focus on the areas you have control. And some of the most powerful areas include sleep, focus, and stress management.

    That’s why at Plant People, we provide our customers with powerful products that combine high-quality ingredients, cutting-edge science, and clinical research. All of our formulas are unique and innovative, reconnecting us to our true nature.

    For effective herbal remedies that will support you as you tick off every task on your to-do list, shop our solutions today.

     

    Written by Emily Spring 

    Emily Spring is the Director of Marketing at Plant People. A longtime proponent of balanced living, she has enjoyed over 8 years driving growth in the lifestyle, health and wellness sectors with deep experience in functional solutions for optimizing anyone's everyday life.

     

    Reviewed by Gabe Kennedy

     Co-Founder of Plant People, Gabe Kennedy is an acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. Growing up in a house of healers and herbalists, he is passionate about the power of food as a tool for health, and actualized this passion and belief system into his company, Plant People. Named to Forbes 30 under 30 Gabe has shaped menus and cooked his way around the world with his mission to promote a more communal, green and healthy world.

     Gabe is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. You can learn more about his work at his website.


    Sources: 

    1. Newport Institute. How Does Your Physical Environment Affect You and Your Mental Health? https://www.newportinstitute.com/resources/mental-health/physical-environment-affect-you
    2. Psychreg. The Psychology of a Morning Routine for Mental and Physical Well Being. https://www.psychreg.org/psychology-morning-routine/ 
    3. American Psychological Association. Multitasking: Switching Costs. https://www.apa.org/topics/research/multitasking
    4. Medical News Today. What a flow state is and how to achieve it. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/flow-state 
    5. The Journal of Positive Psychology. Teamwork and flow proneness mitigate the negative effect of excess challenge on flow state. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2016.1257059

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