What Are Some Tips To Concentrate On Your Work (Or When Reading Something)

broken-printer

“Wait, should we call someone — or just stand here staring…?”

“DAAAMMMNNNN!!!! The printer broke again. It won’t print anything. Can you do something about this?”

That’s a daily occurrence in offices. The printer breaks down – no one knows what to do. The entire department gets to fixing the printer.

No one knows how to fix it — but everyone does have an opinion on what to do.

“Hit the reset button”

“Try purging the print list — that worked for me last time”

“Turn the power off and then turn it back on”

“There could be paper stuck — did you take it out”

Now no one is working. Everyone is focusing on fixing the printer. Twenty minutes later and finally someone says…

“We should call the printer company and ask them to fix it”.

But since the printer broke — that’s the end of the afternoon anyway.

No one is concentrating on work — but focused on the printer.

The printer is a metaphor in this story. It could be the network is down. The mailman didn’t arrive. Or it’s raining too much today.

Any excuse to not get work done…

So today we’ll take a look at,

How To Concentrate On Work When No One Else Is

In this post, you will discover 15 simple tips that you can use in your work.

These tips will enable you to concentrate better and produce higher quality results.

Even when the rest of your office (and industry) is focusing on fixing problems that don’t bring any money.

By following these simple tips you will become more productive. Produce higher quality results. Make more money and become a highly sought-after individual.

To put it another way — you will get more done in a day than others do in the entire week.

Why You Must Concentrate At Work (Or When Reading)

Some things you must do whether you want them or not.

At work — you must produce, or your risk losing your paycheque.

In school — you must study, or risk getting kicked out

Let’s get over the fact that these are things that we have to do.

It doesn’t matter why you want to do them — the fact is that you’ve realized that you need to do this work.

How do you concentrate on doing it? What are some tips, tricks, tools you can use to concentrate on your task better and get a better output in the end?

Here are

15 Tips To Improve Concentration At Work (Or Reading)

1. No distractions

Turn off the phone, block the internet, close the door.

Distractions are the killer of productivity and concentration. It takes about 25 minutes for someone to get back to the original task after an interruption. That comes from research by Carnegie Mellon University.

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No multi-tasking. No keeping an eye on the phone. No having ‘the Facebook’ running in the background. It’s distracting — and you will lose your productivity.

2. No notifications

Exit all programs that give you notifications. Put your phone in your bag, put the bag in a drawer, lock the drawer put the key in the next room.

Notifications have the same effect as distractions. They are a different kind of distraction. Electronic distraction. One that we don’t even think are distracting — thus they are more distracting.

So turn off all notifications. Not even of email. There is nothing so urgent in an email that it can’t wait another hour or two before you get the essential work done.

3. Use Time sprints

Set a kitchen timer on your desk and use it. Use it every day. With every task.

Before you start a task estimate the amount of time it will take you. Then set that time on the kitchen timer.

Now your job isn’t to do the task, it is to sit down until the timer goes off. While you’re sitting down, you can work on the task.

Don’t move until the timer goes off.

4. Follow a rhythm

Everything has a rhythm.

Day follows night, and night follows day. That’s a rhythm.

The seasons follow in order — Summer Autumn Winter Spring. That’s a rhythm.

Even your daily commute. If you notice each day you will see the same people standing at the bus stop at the same time. You will notice the same people exiting the office at the same time. There is a rhythm.

Your concentration and focus have a rhythm. Follow that rhythm. Read #10 below to learn how to discover this rhythm.

Your rhythm will be something to this effect each day — work, break, work, break — lunch. Repeat.

Follow a rhythm.

5. Keep a notepad handy

As you’re working thoughts will arise in your mind. Things that distract you from the current task. Keep a notepad handy. Whenever a thought arises write it down.

Have to email Bob to check on the sales report — write it down.

Forgot to pay your credit card bill — write it down.

Now sure if you’re going to finish this — write it down.

What happened in the game last night — write it down.

Every time a distracting thought pops in your head — write it down on the notepad. Then get back to work.

As you keep doing this the thoughts will reduce. Plus you won’t be running around in circles in your head remembering everything.

It’s written down. You can read it whenever. Your mind hasn’t lost it. So it does not obsess about it.

Write it down.

6. Say ‘No’

While you’re working there will be someone who will ignore all warnings and still come in to ask you for a favor. Or to shoot sh*t.

Say ‘No’. Or if that’s too abrupt for you say, “hey! I’m in the middle of something important, can we do this when I’m finished?”

Say it with urgency — and they will leave you along. If it’s a phone on your desk that you can’t unplug. Pick up the phone and say exactly that.

Don’t say, “Hi, how are you?”

Don’t say, “Good morning, This is ____. Thank you for calling…”

Say NO.

You’re in the middle of something important. Something that will move the needle in your business. In your life. Say No.

When the timer is running, tell everyone one, “No”.

7. Say ‘come back to me at ___ time’

If they insist — give them the time when you will finish the task and ask them to come back.

So they have to come back to you — and you’re not chasing after them.

Even if it’s an important client. Even if it’s the boss.

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Sure some clients will get upset that you didn’t pay attention to them immediately. More clients will respect your professionalism and praise you for doing that.

Especially when you show them the same respect of dedicated time when they are in your office.

Some bosses will be a$$holes about this also. They will give you a hard time. They will tell you that what he’s there to talk about ly important.

But that’s a good way of finding out whether you should work with this boss or not. If a boss doesn’t respect you for working on things that are bringing in money. Then it’s time to look for a better boss.

Tell anyone who walks into, come back to you. Give them a specific time when they can come back to you.

8. Keep a bottle of water (or a pot of coffee)

Water is great to curb casual hunger. When you’re concentrating your lips will become dry and your brain will tell you to take a walk to the water cooler.

Beat this urge by having a bottle of water next to you. Or a pot of coffee.

Whatever you prefer. I have a huge mug of tea sitting on my desk. I like tea.

This not only keeps me focused — but also gives me something to do when I take my break. I get up and make myself another cup of tea.

I don’t drink all the tea. But the ritual of making tea for myself in the morning forces my brain to get into the mindset of work.

9. Play music

Music is great. It keeps the distracting noise out, but also keeps the mood upbeat. Keeps things going. But it helps drown out the noise.

As I’m writing this — I have Vivaldi’s Four Seasons playing in the background. That’s my preference.

I’ve noticed that music with lyrics gets me thinking about the lyrics and then I lose productivity. Experiment for yourself.

When I was working in an open space office, I would put on German Death-Metal to drown out the noise. Everyone around me was talking to each other. But I didn’t hear anything.

I don’t know German. So the lyrics didn’t bother me. And death-metal was loud enough to drown everyone’s talking.

(See point #1 about closing the door.)

I don’t work in open space office anymore. They are the prime reason for low productivity in employees. (But that’s a topic for another day)

10. Measure your output

“Everything that gets measured, improves”.

Try it for yourself. Get one of those step counters and you’ll see your step count increase every day.

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Start weighing yourself on Saturday morning. Write the weight on a calendar. You’ll see your weight go down.

I can guess why it happens. The human being’s innate desire to compete. Even if it is with himself.

But it does work. The minute you start measuring your progress, your progress will improve.

I started measuring the number of words I write in a day and that helped me write over 300,000 words in a year. Not bad for a rookie.

Employers measure the number of hours their employees work — take it further. Measure how much output per hour you are doing.

So if you have ‘billable’ hours in your business — measure how billable you were in a week. Even in the slow months.

Take an average.

Measure yourself every week. You’ll notice your billable hours going up.

If you have to make sales calls — don’t measure the number of sales calls you made. Measure the dollars per call you earned. Your number of calls might go down, but your dollars will go up.

Measure your output.

11. Eat food that keeps you awake

This tip was going to be ‘eat food that keeps you energized’ but that’s a tough one to quantify.

A better measure of energy that I’ve found is the feeling of being awake.

If food makes you lethargic, slow and sleepy 30 minutes after you’ve eaten it; Don’t eat it.

Eat food that gives you energy. Wakes you up. Gets you full in the tummy, but gives your brain a nice buzz. Something that makes you want to jump up and do things.

As a teaser — food high in protein and fat will do this. Also, avoid all sugar and carbs. Potatoes, bread, wheat, rice, colas, alcohol, and fruit will have that effect on you.

The sugar in these foods will convert to glycogen in your body. After 30 minutes you will feel withdrawal symptoms. This will make you sleepy.

I’m not a doctor — this is what I’ve discovered works for me. Try it and see if it doesn’t give you more energy.

12. Reward yourself with food

This is counter-intuitive. I told you to avoid a ton of food, now I’m telling you to reward yourself with food.

Yes. Not a scoop of ice-cream — try a celery stick, carrots, or a handful of nuts.

Every time you finish a task, eat a stalk of celery, or a handful of nuts. For some reason, there is a deep connection of the brain with food.

It craves food and the feeling we get from food. Start rewarding yourself for concentrating with food. Your brain will connect the reward and concentration.

It will crave more and more of the action that you do. It will want you to focus and concentrate because it knows that at the end of the day it will get food.

It’s like training a puppy. Or Pavlov’s dog. You can train yourself the same way.

Reward yourself with food.

13. Keep the room cool

You’ll notice that sitting in a warm room makes you sleepy. That’s why green rooms at conferences are cold. Conference rooms are cooler than normal, so the attendees don’t fall asleep.

Wear warm clothes, but keep the room cold. Your core body will be warm and you will function. But the cool air won’t make you drowsy.

You will work better, your concentration will remain sharp and focused.

14. Separate work from entertainment space

This is the biggest change you can make. Have separate computers for work and play.

“What? I can’t afford two computers!!”

Fine. Then have an extra user login that you use for entertainment.

Facebook, YouTube, social media, reading the news.

This is non-negotiable.

Your work computer and ‘desktop’ must be different from your entertainment desktop.

If you use a laptop go sit on the other side of the table when you’re doing idle browsing.

This will force your brain to understand the difference between work and play. It will train your brain to get into the work mode when you’re sitting on the right side of the desk.

On the wrong side for too long, and you’ll know that you haven’t been working.

Your focus will increase. Because your brain knows that when you sit on the right side of the desk — it had better be working.

15. Have clean lines of sight

Clutter is distracting. Doesn’t matter how Einstein had a cluttered desk. Keep yours clean and organized.

The more organized your desk, the easier it will be for you to find what you’re looking for. You will waste less time looking for it.

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But not only that — keep your line of sight clean and clutter free.

This is because when we’re thinking we look into a particular direction. If that direction is cluttered you won’t be able to think. Your thoughts will get interrupted.

When we’re recalling something we look in another direction. Keeping your line of sight clutter free and with clean lines allows you to think faster. And concentrate better on your work.

You can test this on your friends — ask them what they had for breakfast two days ago. Then watch where their eyes are going.

They will go in one or the other direction.

These are 15 tips that you can use to concentrate better on your work.

By implementing these 15 tips you will become more focused on your work. Your concentration will improve and you will get more work done in less time.

But before you install these in your business

A WORD OF WARNING!!!

When you first start out — you will want to do all the tips at the same time. That’s a mistake. You will overwhelm yourself and not do anyone.

To start, take the first one, use it for 1 week. Then move to the number two — and use number 1 and number 2 together for a week. Keep building up like this.

Build one up — then add the next. As you keep adding you will become more productive. You will increase your concentration over time and get more done.

Before you even know it — you will have adopted all the 15 tips. Doubled, tripled or tenfold your productivity.

Quick Recap

Today we looked at 15 tips to boost your productivity and enhance your concentration.

We looked at some tips to

  • avoid distractions and what to do when unwanted interruptions occur
  • a simple tool found in kitchens to improve concentration
  • have more energy during the day and what to avoid that makes you sleepy
  • how to create a more productive work environment to help you concentrate on your work better

Action steps

  1. Pick out the three tips above that you can relate to
  2. Schedule the first you selected on your calendar to test
  3. Schedule number two a week from the first
  4. Schedule number three two weeks from the first

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn. What did you think?

Which of these 15 tips did you like best? Which tip was a shocker for you? What do you think would happen if you implemented all 15 tips in your life?

Leave a comment below with your favorite tip from today. Plus, let me know what’s your biggest challenge when it comes to concentration, at work.

I love to hear from you and usually reply to all questions in the comments.

So leave a comment below.