It is difficult to maintain one’s focus as an entrepreneur due to the varied nature of one’s responsibilities. Nevertheless, a clear understanding of your capabilities can allow you to leverage your strengths to boost your productivity, and if you know how to, you can keep a high level of focus even in the busiest settings.
The use of technology in workplaces is associated with both strengths and weaknesses. For example, new opportunities for distraction come from the use of technology, and according to Rock, the author of Your Brain at Work, becoming distracted indicates that a change has taken place. Rock suggests that distraction is a warning signal, which tells us to keep focused on a particular issue because, if we do not, we might be placed at risk. As a reflexive action, therefore, distraction is difficult to suppress.
Multi-tasking is essential but it comes with risks. In particular, as noted by Rock, your IQ can fall due to multitasking, and if a person is multi-tasking, their ability to complete all the tasks to a similarly high standard is diminished. This stems from the fact that, as suggested by the name “multi-tasking”, one is taking on an excessive number of things simultaneously. As a case in point, a person who writes a document while multitasking is much more likely to make typographical errors.
It is unfortunate to note, therefore, that positive feelings often come from multi-tasking. This is because, according to Rock, we feel like we activate our brains when we are multitasking. It is unrealistic to think that it is possible to remove every distraction, but being able to focus on a single task for at least one-third of an hour each day should be achievable. If a person can achieve this, they are likely to experience a significant boost in terms of their ability to complete work to a high standard.
Several key tips should be borne in mind to elevate your productivity and focus at work:
- Start from the most creative work: That is to say, start with the most complex tasks, which require higher levels of energy, focus, and concentration, and only once these are completed consider moving onto easier tasks. This is consistent with Rock’s finding that our energy levels deplete over the course of the day.
- Scheduling and time management: Rock, in a study involving a large sample size of participants and an analysis of their habits, discovered that people are only highly concentrated for an average of 6 hours each week. Based on this, it is clear that using these 6 hours in the most effective way is reasonable. Other studies have shown that, for many people, their most productive time is spent away from the office (e.g., working late hours at home or starting early in the morning). Therefore, to ensure that you spend your 6 hours of concentration in the most productive way, you should identify the times at which you feel the most creative and the least destructive. You can plan to complete your most complex tasks during this time.
- View your mind as a muscle: It is possible to train your mind to become good at memorising information, remaining concentrated, and performing highly when completing different tasks simultaneously. However, when we multi-task, we increase the likelihood of losing focus, and the brain may develop a habit of losing focus automatically. Therefore, it is important to practice focusing and, in particular, to become adept at removing distractions and completing tasks one by one. Just as we train our muscles through repetition and long-term conditioning, we can do the same for our ability to concentrate and remain focused. This point was also emphasised by Rock, who noted that longer training times typically correspond to more effective capabilities.
- Stop Being “Reactive” Turn smart phone notifications off. Your computer should not be chiming when you get a new email. You need to stop being in a mode where you are reacting to things. Everything must start and end with your decisions. It’s the attention residue problem again. Any time you are reacting to new stimuli it pulls you out of focus. And then that can linger in your head, draining your ability to concentrate on what’s important.
- Get Your Sleep What’s one of the main reasons you spend so much time aimlessly surfing the internet? Studies say it’s lack of sleep. Not getting enough shut-eye reduces willpower and depletes the self-control you need to avoid bad habits like watching cat videos. And if you’ve missed sleep, you’ve reduced your intelligence.