Having trouble focusing at the office or on this article? Here are the factors most likely affecting your productivity.
Let’s be honest — staying focused at work isn’t always easy. Between online distractions, conversations with your coworkers, and sporadically spaced meetings, there are plenty of ways to get derailed throughout the day.
While you can try to mimic the ways that successful people stay focused, it’s first important to identify what exactly is causing you to get off track in the first place. Here are three of the most common reasons employees find themselves unable to focus at work, and some surefire tactics to stamp out each source of distraction:
1. You’re Too Plugged In
If you’re the kind of person who constantly has their eyes glued to their smartphone (and you know who you are), chances are you find it hard to focus. Why? According to the Harvard Business Review, this state of constant connection doesn’t allow you to “process, recharge, and refocus” during the workday, making it extremely difficult to concentrate on the task at hand.
The easy solution? Stop checking your messages so often. By staying off social media and limiting your use of texting and other messaging channels, you’ll give your brain more space to focus on the task at hand — and your friends a break from your constant tweets about cat videos. If you really want to revamp your relationship with technology, consider instituting a mindfulness practice into your day-to-day routine. Instead of checking your phone the minute you wake up, give yourself some time to breathe, reflect, and prepare for your day.
2. You’re Low Energy
If you can’t keep your head up, you won’t be able to work well. As obvious as this one seems, it’s important enough that I’m mentioning it anyway. As Fast Company points out, “Taking steps to monitor your brain’s energy supply is as basic and essential as keeping your car’s tank full of gas.” Without a good supply of energy, you’re not going to get very far.
While there are obvious solutions to this issue (among them, sleeping more and stretching your legs throughout the day), there are some other methods you might not have considered. Staying hydrated, for example, can keep you feeling refreshed and in a good mood — but make sure to keep that water bottle by your desk, instead of wasting time constantly walking to the water cooler. Taking time to recover between meetings by reading an article for pleasure or doing some stretches in your office can also help; although we like to think we can multitask, it’s important to give our brains time to switch between one thought process and another.
3. You’re Surrounded By Clutter
A cluttered work environment means a cluttered mind. In a seminal Princeton University study, researchers found that employees working in an organized environment performed better, because there were fewer stimuli competing for their attention.
Again, the solution to this problem is simple — if your workspace is cluttered, clean it. But to truly increase productivity and concentration, don’t stop at your desk. By organizing your inbox, filing cabinet, and other work-related areas, you’ll significantly increase your ability to focus. If you’re feeling really ambitious, begin organizing your living space as well. The less clutter you have in your life, the easier it will be to center yourself and get your work done. And if you end up featured in Better Homes and Gardens, don’t forget to thank me.
Ken Sterling is the Chief Marketing Officer at BigSpeak Speakers’ bureau – the leading keynote and business speakers bureau in the world. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California and an MBA from Babson College. Ken teaches Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Strategy at UC Santa Barbara. He is a serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker, business consultant and sales & marketing expert. For press interviews, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Business2Community.