Surrounded by multiple technologies, sometimes it seems impossible to get things done. Here are some pointers to help you keep your focus and complete the task at hand.
This happens to me multiple times a day: I start reading through something, and next thing I know I have left that task behind to do something completely different. Sometimes it is because of a new idea that I suddenly feel passionate about, or given my job in social media, it also can be when I end up on some webpage completely clueless as to how I got there. This is the multitasking distraction, and I, along with many of you, suffer from it as well.
The consequences are never good. It usually ends with me scrambling to put something together or having one of my coworkers reference something I have done only halfway. It isn’t like I got distracted by not being on task, I just wasn’t focused on the task at hand.
With all of the technology that helps us communicate and organize, it is hard to imagine how this can be an issue. But alas, I find myself spending more time recording information on multiple platforms than actually doing the work that needs to get done.
So, I sat down to figure out what I could do to address this with the intention of improving my focus. Here are some tips I find to be helpful:
1. Close open tabs on your browser.
If you were to look at my computer screen right now, you would see that I have 11 tabs open. Comparably, that might not be that much to someone with a dual computer screen desk setup. But I feel like anything more than three or four might be too many. Close out windows when you are done with them, and most importantly, close out windows that alert you when something is new (i.e., Facebook or email). If you close these windows, you won’t rush to each window’s call for attention; chances are, it is probably something you can take care of when you are done.
2. Write your to-do list down on paper.
This may seem old school, but having a to-do list right next to my computer, that I can reference without pulling up another window, is extremely helpful. All I have to do is look down to regain focus on what I should really be completing. There is also an unbeatable feeling of satisfaction that comes with crossing off a completed item.
3. Let your co-workers know what you are working on.
Our office is small, so it is easy to communicate with my co-workers when I need their accountability while working on something or just to give them a heads up if I will be busy with something at a certain time. This helps keep me focused in two ways: One is that they follow-up with me later about the project or task and the second is that they are up to date if I cannot complete something right away. If your office is a bit bigger, try telling one or two co-workers what you are working on to help you stay on task.
4. Fight the urge to click.
This one might be the hardest of all. Do you know that feeling you get when you are scrolling down a news feed or a blog post, and you see an image you just have to click on, and when you do… suddenly you can’t stop? Well, it is time to put on the brakes and stop going down the trail leading nowhere. My best guess is that you really didn’t need to read about 36 red pandas reacting to pop culture (this is a test) and could have been finishing up a long-term project instead.