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How to Stay Focused at Work

WRITTEN BY Ali Bonar

How to Stay Focused at Work

This post was written in partnership with Ali Bonar, founder of Kween + Co Granola butter, podcaster and positive body image advocate

Do you check your email countless times an hour? Or spend half of your workday Slacking (literally)? Perhaps your issue isn’t daily digital distractions, but getting your mind off the pile of dishes in the sink next to you and onto the document in front of you if you’re working from home.

Even if you’re still meeting deadlines, a foggy mind can take a toll on your self-esteem and overall feeling of productivity. It goes without saying that whether you’re in an office or working from home, distractions abound. 

Finding more focus at work can help function better and feel better. But how can you achieve it?

In this short guide, we’ll go over our top ten strategies for how to stay focused at work. 

#1 Organize Your Workspace

Is organized chaos an apt description for your work space? Stray papers, a cemetary of empty coffee cups and disorganized folders aren’t just a hectic look for a Zoom meeting. All of these distractions can affect your focus and the quality of your work.

Your computer slows down if too many tabs are open and spreadsheets are active. The RAM, or active memory, can easily get overwhelmed.

The same is true of our brains. We can only pay attention to so many things at one time.

Studies show that background clutter:

  • Drains cognitive focus
  • Elevates the stress hormone cortisol
  • Lowers productivity

If you haven’t cleaned your physical and digital workspace in a while, dedicate some time to organizing files and folders. Remember, if you haven’t used it in six months, you probably do not need it!

#2 Create a To-Do List (With Deadlines!)

Once you have a clean, organized workspace, it’s time to get to work!

But if you don’t have a clear to-do list, it’s easy to waste precious time deciding which task should get prioritized. Beyond that, you might easily feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks, or by some tasks’ length and complexity.

The solution: a clear, organized to-do list.

There are many methods for creating a to-do list:

  • Plan digitally by using an app like ToDoist 
  • Take up a Bullet Journal, jotting your tasks down in a specialty notebook
  • Work towards deadlines with your team by using Monday or Asana 

Some people find it helpful to create a new to-do list on a daily basis, while other plans for the week or month ahead. 

The only real rules are to:

  • Write down each task.
  • Set deadlines so you can prioritize the most pressing projects.
  • Break down large tasks into manageable subtasks.
  • Cross off items as you go.

With these tools at the ready, you can turn your to-do’s into ta-da’s and feel more productive. 

#3 Harness the Power of Mushrooms and Herbs

Ready to start crossing off tasks on your to-do list? While a cup of coffee is a great way to start a productive day, you can also use other alternatives.

There are other ways to hone your focus naturally. For example, some functional  mushrooms and botanical herbs have been shown to help sharpen attention spans and improve working memory capacity, so that you have more mental bandwidth for each task at hand. 

Some of our favorite herbs and mushrooms for focus include:

  • Lion’s mane mushrooms
  • Cordyceps
  • Rhodiola root
  • Green tea

There’s an easy way to enjoy the benefits of these powerful fungi and herbs. 

Plant People’s Advanced Clear Focus capsules are doctor-formulated from a proprietary blend of adaptogenic nootropics to help clear your mind, reduce fatigue, and improve focus.

Use your CBD supplement daily to experience additional benefits over time.

#4 Block or Regulate Unhelpful Sites

If your desk is tidied and you’re enjoying the beneficial properties of a mushroom and herb focus capsule, how are you going to use your renewed focus?

You could actually focus on your work... or you could spend the next few hours on an in-depth investigation of the day’s current news or a Wikipedia deep dive into your favorite movie. 

If you tend to get drawn away from the tasks you actually need to complete, you might want to give your will power an extra helping hand by using a browser extension to set time limits on the sites you tend to frequent.

Options include:

  • StayFocusd
  • Freedom

You can also find programs for your computer that remind you when to take a break if you have been using it for too long. A few great computer reminder apps include:

  • Workrave
  • Awareness
  • Timeout

#5 Set Yourself As “Away”

Do you often find yourself getting pulled into conversations with coworkers?

While a little workplace banter can help improve your quality of life and even inject new ideas into your work, too much can pull focus away from your to-do list.

When you’re trying to complete a task, set yourself as “Away” on Slack, or whatever your workplace uses for digital communication).

If you’re physically in an office or more communal working space, we recommend putting on a pair of headphones to show your coworkers that you’re in the groove and not to be distributed. If you’re lucky enough to have a door on your office, shut it!

#6 Take Breaks

How often do you take a break?

You might be surprised to hear that the most productive employees are those who take breaks every hour. Why? Researchers found that:

  • The brain can sustain “high” activity for about one consecutive hour. After that, it usually goes into “low” activity mode.
  • Allowing your brain to rest and recharge when it needs to can actually prepare you to get back to work sooner.

Besides the neurological benefits, there may also be psychological pluses to taking frequent breaks. As humans, we’re conditioned to chase rewards: you  might find it easier to crank out work if you know that there’s a break on the other side.

Another tip: try weaving in little moments of fun throughout your workday. Maybe that’s playing fetch with your dog, or dancing to your favorite song in your living room at your lunch break. You may find yourself more productive from those little hits of dopamine throughout your day! 

#7 Try the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a specific working schedule that draws on the above principles. In this method, you work in twenty-five-minute bursts, also called “pomodoros.”

  • Work for twenty-five minutes
  • Take a five minute break
  • Take on another pomodoro

Some people find that working in short bursts enables them to be super productive. Then, there’s no guilt when they switch to reading the news or doing the crossword puzzle for five minutes.

#8 Recharge with Food and Water

How do you usually eat lunch? Do you sit in front of your computer, blindly aiming your fork first at your plate and then into your mouth while continuing to stare at your inbox?

That’s not good for your focus. As you can probably tell from the tips above, our brains function best when they actually get a break. 

Take breaks throughout your workday to turn away from your screen and work on nourishing your body’s cellular needs with nourishing snacks, a healthy lunch and plenty of H2O. 

Some of our favorite superfoods for energy include:

  • Walnuts
  • Dark chocolate
  • Avocados
  • Whole grains
  • Berries

#9 Make an Hourly Plan

If you have trouble tackling your to-do list or often feel yourself getting pulled off-course, we recommend mapping out your day. That includes your time before and after clocking in to work, too!

An hourly schedule could include any and all of the following:

  • The most important task for each hour
  • Scheduled times to check your email: we recommend once every three hours
  • Scheduled breaks including meal breaks, walks and light exercise
  • Flex/catch-up hours where you can either catch up on delinquent tasks or take a break

The trick is creating a clear schedule for work and a clear reward system so that you have plenty of breaks and plenty of motivation.

#10 Schedule a Vacation

Do you tend to use all your vacation days, or are you only out of the office when emergency strikes?

A study in the Harvard Business Review found that employees are more productive when they take regular vacations. On top of that, those who took more than 10 days of vacation were almost twice as likely to receive a raise or promotion than those who took less. 

It’s perhaps no surprise that we feel extra incentive to put in the hours when we know we have a real break ahead. Likewise, it makes perfect sense that resting and recharging can help you return to the office with more focus and energy.

So go ahead. Use your vacation days! Then, get back to work and continue implementing the above tips.

Rest or Recharge, All With Natural Help From Plant People

No matter how many tricks you use for productivity, you need to be in the right frame of mind to accomplish your tasks. Luckily, botanicals and fungi can help provide natural support. Advanced Clear Focus capsules are formulated with vegan, organic ingredients to help you unlock a high cognitive state and feel focused without a crash.

Trying to meet another wellness goal? Whether it’s improving the quality of your sleep, reducing stress or feeling a little better each day, our hemp, herbal and mushroom supplements are formulated with your needs in mind.

Upgrade your routine and become a Plant Person today.

 

Sources:

RACGP. What does clutter do to your brain and body? https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/what-does-clutter-do-to-your-brain-and-body

Inc. For the Most Productive Workday, Science Says Make Sure to Do This. https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/productivity-workday-52-minutes-work-17-minutes-break-travis-bradberry-pomodoro-technique.html

Lifehack. Does the Pomodoro Technique Work for Your Productivity? https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/the-pomodoro-technique-is-it-right-for-you.html

WebMD. Brain Foods That Help You Concentrate. https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/ss/slideshow-brain-foods-that-help-you-concentrate

Harvard Business Review. The Data-Driven Case for Vacation. https://hbr.org/2016/07/the-data-driven-case-for-vacation

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