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Tips for focus: 4 ways to hone your focus and concentration at work

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Megan Murray
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Struggling to focus? These simple but really effective tips will help you get more done, without feeling burnt out

As our society continues to develop alongside technology, we’re becoming more aware of how much being bombarded with information constantly – whether that be emails, social media or news alerts – is affecting us.

We’ve seen it in the rise of people experiencing and talking about burnout, which can apply to all sorts of areas in your life from your career to your social calendar, as well as high functioning anxiety that sees us push on through feelings of anxiousness to stay on the go.

Cate Murden, speaker, coach and founder of Push (which works with companies to create a positive working culture), describes it as being “overstimulated and overwhelmed”.

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Speaking in a video on her Instagram she says: “We get something like six times as much info than we did in the 80s, including 200 emails a day (at least) and 20 to 60 hours of meetings a week. There’s a constant feeling of not being able to do quite enough.”

Murden continues to explain that the energy it takes to “dial up and dial down” across different tasks is draining and leaves us feeling on edge, as if we’re never quite giving our best efforts to one thing.

With a wealth of experience in helping employees make the most of themselves and their time, she has some brilliant advice on how to keep your focus and ensure productivity, without feeling overworked and burnt out. 

Burnout: being overstimulated and overwhelmed is preventing us focusing.

Plan ahead

It might sound like an obvious one, but how often do you really take the time every night to prepare for the next day? Murden says this small step can really help you hone in on what your goals are for the next day and concentrate your focus there, recommending that you do this the night before and write your thoughts down to get “that stuff out of our heads and onto paper so we can have a really good night’s sleep.” 

Chunking and grouping

Murden uses this phrase to describe breaking down tasks that seem really big into more manageable chunks, because sometimes when a task seems intimidatingly large it can cause us to procrastinate and fall further behind with it. She suggests breaking it up and then rewarding yourself every time you get something done so you have the motivation to keep going. 

Then you should also look at grouping together tasks that are really similar. As Murden says: “make groups of creative vs logical tasks, for example, so we’re not flicking between lots of different states and lots of different jobs.”

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Sprint and break

Murden explains: “No one can do eight hours of solid work. But what we can do really well is sprints of intense work and focus, and then have a break afterwards.”

She recommends spending 90 minutes focusing on one task and giving it your all, before having a proper break, and then going back to work again. It’s important to keep these times strictly segregated so that you’re not thinking about personal errands in your work time, or equally, worrying about work in your break. Murden also points out that 90 minutes is a good amount of time to do this because, “it works with the flow of our circadian rhythm which also relates to our sleep and how we have lighter and deeper periods. In the same way we have lighter and deeper periods of focus.”

Turn off notifications

This is super basic but actually really makes sense, and can make a big difference! Murden says: “Why should someone choose when you look at something, vs when you want to look at it. Turn it off, be present, work on something for a period of time and then come away from it and then look at your emails, WhatsApp and phone. Having those periods means you’ll be able to get much more done, have a break and then come back to it.”

If you’re looking for other ways to nail your week, check out this Monday flow chart which helps you focus on your priorities for the next seven days to ensure you get more done. 

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Images: Unsplash - Thien Dang / Sincerely Media

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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