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Your time and attention are limited. And your brain can wonder. So, how do you become more focused and less distracted at work?

Tip 1: Tidy and isolate

Yes, it’s captain obvious over here. But before we can focus on distractions coming from within you and your computer, we advise you make your hectic working environment as serene as possible.

Consider the following tips for blocking unwanted stimuli:

  • Ask your boss how many days you can work from home. One of the very few benefits emerging after two COVID years is the possibility to work from home, which could be anywhere, even your favorite coffee place. It is not for everybody, but at least you have the choice to go find a setting that works for you.
  • If you do work from the office, find a desk somewhere away from the coffee machine, entrance and away from popular colleagues. If you can, of course. Sometimes your room and desk will be assigned.
  • Find yourself some active noise cancelling earphones. If the boss doesn’t allow big headphones that will scream ‘leave me the heck alone’, try to find more modest earphones with active noise cancelling technique.
  • Marie kondo the crap out of your work station. Don’t stop at a clean desk, rather tidy your windowsill, desk dividers, bulletin boards and cabinets too.

Tip 2: Manage those screens

We all know that sensation when a message pops up, whether it is from SnapChat, WhatsApp or your email program. Pleasant, in a way, but killing for your workflow. That is why you better make sure you don’t get distracted by your phone or computer every other minute.

To prevent that from happening, turn off all unnecessary prompts and notifications. Easy as one two three. You just have to do it!

Tip 3: Close your email program

You don’t have to know the second a new email arrives. So, think of a maximum number of times a day to check and answer your emails. We found that 3 moments a day is enough to keep your inbox clutter free.

A timer with a red area on a white background showing us that there are 14 minutes left.

Tip 4: Pomodoro

Then there is your inner you, or your skillset. Like drawing back your attention when it drifts off, or your time management skills.

You probably already know a couple of methods to focus on the task at hand. But we will share one with you. Personally, we are big fans of the Pomodoro Technique. This method helps to bring structure to your work sessions and focus your attention.

Pomorodo: how it works

The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo. This Italian specialist in IT and economy is a notable expert in time management. He figured out a way to keep focused by working in sprints lasting 25 minutes.

If you are convinced that this might help you too, read carefully and practice the following steps.

  1. Choose the task you want to work on.
  2. Set a timer to 25 minutes. Remember to keep away any distractions from the task.
  3. After 25 minutes, set the timer for 5 minutes to have a break.
  4. Repeat multiple times depending on the size of your task. You can take longer breaks if you do more than 4 sessions.

Well, there you have it. Now you are a master at keeping or creating focus at work. Or… rather, now you have some tools to practice keeping or creating focus. Because only ‘practice makes perfect’, doesn’t it?

Arjan van Rooijen