When you’re swamped at work and need to achieve laser focus, what’s one action you take to help you? Why?
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1. Think About Your ‘Why’
I take a step back and think about why I do what I do and who I am trying to help. When I think about what is important, the water clears and I am able to focus and get everything done. Do not focus on the “what,” but rather focus on the “why.”
2. Change Your Environment
Get out of the office. When I need to focus, the change of venue helps me. It’s a visual cue that says, “Let’s get to work,” and the everyday distractions are somewhere else. If you are virtual, change the room or location you work in, and you can probably get a similar effect.
3. Eliminate All Distractions
I simply turn off all notifications, close my office door and tell my team that I need uninterrupted time for a morning or an afternoon. Eliminating all distractions helps me focus and complete the task at hand. That’s really the only way I can concentrate.
4. Ask for Help
When you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it may be time to ask for help. I’ve discovered that by delegating tasks to other members of management, I’m able to focus on the most pressing issues of the day. If you want to try this tip, I suggest making a list of priorities and handing the stuff toward the bottom of the list to team leads.
5. Block Your Time
Time blocking is the best thing you can do when you need to focus on an important task. I don’t always have the luxury to do it because we’re in a phase when we are actively scaling our business, but I know from my experience that it works very well. If there’s no time during business hours, there are always mornings and weekends.
6. Choose One Priority
Define just one top priority, and then do that. Do that until it’s done. Ignore everything else until it’s done. Getting the biggest domino out of the way will often solve other problems along the way. So make sure you know what the biggest task in front of you is and focus on that.
7. Use Your Phone’s ‘Focus’ Feature
I use the “focus” feature available with the new iOS update. This feature allows you to set work or personal mode, which sends phone calls to voicemail during the hours you designate. You can customize this feature to enable you to limit distractions as you see fit. You can also add emergency contacts who can contact you so you can make sure your mom, key employee or partner can still reach you.
8. Go Offline
Here’s an underrated tip: go offline. If you use online tools for coding or writing, you should find an offline “save” option or have a desktop app that will save your work locally. When you disconnect your phone and laptop from the internet, you’ll avoid distracting notifications. You’ll also make it harder to casually browse social media, which will send you right back to work.
9. Set Your Status to ‘Heads Down’
When I’m feeling swamped at work, I will often change my status on Slack to show that I’m having a “heads down” work session. This shows everyone else on the team that I’m laser-focused on the task at hand, which reduces interruptions throughout the day. Team members are still free to reach out to me if it’s an emergency, but for the most part, this technique helps me save time during busy days.
10. Set Up an Intentional Workspace
Space matters. Working in one that is devoid of distraction is crucial to ticking off much of your to-do list. When I just need to get stuff done, I sit in my designated workspace that is quiet, comfortable, has minimal street noise and has subtle, warm lighting. It helps me tune out the noise — both literally and figuratively — and tackle all of my tasks.