Man trying to stay focused at work
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Feeling distracted? 5 ways to stay focused at work

20 Apr 2017

If you’re working on a big project and need to focus, then you need to eliminate distractions.

Between brighter, warmer days and a few bank holidays, employees’ focus can dip a little. We all get distracted from time to time, but it’s important to be able to pull yourself back from it.

Whether it’s the impending weekend, an upcoming holiday, or just a loud and busy office, there are plenty of things that can distract you from your work. While you can’t control your surroundings or colleagues, you can set yourself up to avoid all the noise.

For when you need to shake it off and knuckle down, here are some tips you can use to focus your attention.

Ambient noise sites

Sticking your headphones on is a great deterrent for your colleagues to know they shouldn’t bother you unless it’s absolutely necessary. It shows that you’re focusing on something particularly important and you want to block out external noise.

Additionally, playing something can help you to further drown out the background din and keep you focused. Sites such as Noisli and Rainy Mood will provide you with ambient sounds such as thunderstorms and lapping waves to block out any distractions.

‘Clean’ your computer

While a busy desktop could distract you, we’re not here to tell you to tidy up your icons – that might just give you an excuse to procrastinate more.

Distraction blockers such as Cold Turkey are highly customisable and easy to use. You can tell it to block all social media, for example, or, if you need to get a big report done, you could ask it to block the whole internet for a certain amount of time while you stay focused at work.

Ignore your emails

The best way to get a big block of work done is to ignore your emails. Jumping back and forth between correspondence and work will clutter your mind and stop you from focusing fully on the task at hand.

The easiest way to shut out your emails is to simply not open them. If you can afford to, you might even put your ‘out of office’ notification on for the day while you get your work done.

Tidy your work space

OK, tidying up your desktop mightn’t be necessary as you probably aren’t looking at it while working. However, a clean, organised desk may help you stay focused at work.

If you feel yourself getting distracted, take a five-minute break to tidy your desk. Then, get back to it with your earphones in and your emails switched off.

Master your to-do list

Sometimes, what distracts you the most are the things you have to do. If you have a long list of tasks to complete, they’re probably all vying for your brain’s attention at once and keeping you from getting anything productive done.

Even making a to-do list can stress you out and distract you if you don’t compile it properly. Master your to-do list with the right priorities and realistic expectations. Move non-essential tasks off the list until further notice and break bigger jobs into smaller tasks.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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