How to stay focussed at work

 In Productivity

I had a meeting with a client last week, and as we left the building where the meeting was held, I noticed she was wearing a pair of stilettos. It made me think about the power of focus, and how the weight and energy of her walk was focussed on those pointed heels. 60kgs pinpointed on 8mm of steel is very powerful!

A common problem that businesses face these days is that so many of us are unable to focus on the task at hand. Of course, part of it is due to competing demands and our ever-expanding workloads, but today I’m talking about the often unnecessary distractions that draw us away from our work—emails.

We have allowed a barrage of modern marketing to infiltrate our lives—at home and work—and it’s affecting our productivity. Marketing efforts worldwide are now reaching into the trillions of dollars. Make no mistake about it, marketers are very serious about directing our attention away from what we should be looking at, and directly toward their product or service. Many have gone to the depths of neuroscience to seduce us into anything they please. One way to minimise the distraction is to spring clean your inbox; if you’re not getting any value from a newsletter or branded email, unsubscribe! Be brutal. But it’s not just marketing emails causing problems.

Take a look at your inbox—how many emails do you see? If you have more than 20, you have a problem. You have lost focus—likely because of all the marketing, FYIs, and CCs that you have accumulated. Keeping a clear inbox is the first step to achieving focus at work.

Take some time to clear the backlog of emails and set up a filing system for your inbox. It’s far easier to become distracted when there are 200 emails staring at you (‘unread’), demanding your attention.

Once your filing system is sorted, maintenance is small work. Schedule a time for reading and clearing your emails, and make use of downtime. When I turn up early for an appointment, I pull out my phone and check my emails. If an email does not require my action, I’ll file it in the appropriate folder. Anything superfluous, I delete. With an empty inbox, I’m ready to focus on my meeting.

With so many disruptions, it can be hard to concentrate on work. Don’t let your inbox let you down!

How will you improve your focus this week?

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