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Tips to stay focused at work

30th December 2015

Staying focused at work

Having to work over the Christmas and New Year period can be very difficult; as an employer you will be aware that your workforce may not be as focused, whilst as an employee you will perhaps be thinking more about your plans for New Year’s Eve and the New Year rather than your work.

Some of those employed in legal jobs and professions will not be working as their offices will be closed, but those that are need to remain focused.

Here, we have compiled a number of tips to stay focused at work, especially during this time of the year when there are many factors that can lead to distraction.

“Do what you plan to do”

Dr Victoria Samuel, Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Lead at Bristol Psychology Services, says it is important that you do the work you had planned to do.

She added, “The best way to improve your concentration is to try to make sure that whatever you’re doing, that’s what you’re doing!

“Flitting from one thing to another – typing a report, flicking to your emails, checking your phone, searching the internet, back to the report, checking your phone etc. might seem productive, but media multi-taskers have been found to have poorer attention and be more distractible.”

Bristol Psychology Services

Be mindful

Paying attention to the tasks you’re doing as you’re doing them is called mindfulness and this has benefits for your concentration as well as overall well-being.

Bristol Psychology Services’ Victoria Samuel, said, “Mindfulness involves training your attention to focus on the present moment using all your senses. So as you’re typing, you notice the sound of the patter of the keys on the keyboard, watch the letters forming words, the ideas in your mind shaping into paragraphs on the page, the cursor moving along the line, the dexterity of your fingers as they move across the keys.”

Be aware of unrelated thoughts

Dr Victoria Samuel says that what usually pulls people away from focused attention are thoughts that are unrelated to what you are supposed to be doing.

She said, “These thoughts are inevitable and natural; we simply need to become aware of them as they pop into our head, before we’ve got reeled in by the stories they tell us.

“So, mindful attention involves noticing the thoughts as they arise, perhaps lightly label the content of them to ourselves in a neutral, factual way: “there’s a thought about lunch”, “I’m going back over that conversation from yesterday” “the thought ‘I wish I could go home now’ keeps going through my mind”, then imagine letting them go and get back to the task in hand.”

Imagery can help when distracting thoughts are pulling you off course

Sometimes we can get caught up in thoughts, drifting off in to daydreams or going over & over worries. When thoughts are pulling you away from the task in hand, Dr Victoria Samuel, Clinical Psychologist recommends using imagery.

She says: “Imagery can help with the process of detaching from distracting thoughts, for example we might imagine these thoughts as leaves on a stream that we watch float in front of us and out of sight, or we can picture these thoughts are statements written on signs held by members of a marching band who walk past us then out then out of view.”

Use imagery to stay focused

Don’t block out thoughts about other things

Lawyers and legal professionals might be surprised to learn that blocking out thoughts can actually have negative effects, leading to less efficient performance at work.

Dr Samuel adds, “Often people try to stay focused on a work task by attempting to block out thoughts about other things. Unfortunately, this can be counterproductive - the more we try not to have certain thoughts, the more they tend to bug us. Try really hard not to think about a white bear and you’ll see what happens…..!”

Polar bear

Drink plenty of water

According to an article on Life Hack you can improve your work ethic and concentration by drinking lots of water.

It is therefore important to have enough water close-by as it keeps you refreshed, Life Hack advise having water at arm’s reach as having to continually walk to the water station is a distraction in itself.

water helps you concentrate

Image Credit: Alex, Bristol Psychology Services, matt, Tambako The Jaguar, Wonderlane (