What are some of the methods for staying focused at work? Why is it that some are able to focus on a task and complete it faster than others? Why is multitasking becoming a thing of the past instead of the promise of the future? These questions and more are answered in this lesson on one of the most important topics in Business English.
Vocabulary – Expressions – Phrasal Verbs – Idioms:
Staying focused – being able to concentrate on the job which you should be doing instead of being distracted with other work, tasks, or unrelated work activities.
Routine task – work that you do again and again to the point where you lose interest. These types of activities can result in job dissatisfaction and loss of focus.
Distraction – something which diverts your attention from what you are trying to achieve. For example, a party going on in the next office would be a distraction.
Organized work environment – ensuring that your working area is tidy, and you have everything you need within easy reach. A clean environment helps you to focus on your work.
Prioritization – ensuring that the things which must be done, are done first – ranking tasks, emails, and contact with clients and others according to their importance.
Hydrated – ensuring that you drink enough fluids, especially water. Dehydration is a common cause of a loss of focus.
Healthy snacks/food – eating healthy food is important to ensure that you are doing your best work and staying focused. This includes eating healthy snacks instead of eating junk food when nervous or anxious at work. This also includes drinking juice and water instead of soft drinks.
To do list – a list of tasks which need to be accomplished. Writing such a list clears the mind and helps you to focus on what needs to be done in the order of importance.
The golden hour – this is your most productive hour or possible hours working. This is when people tend to be at their freshest and most focused. For many, this is the first hour of the working day, but this can differ per individual. You should reserve important jobs for this valuable time of day.
Daydreaming – the state of mind when you are thinking of things other than those you are supposed to be doing. This results in fantasizing about things which are pleasant, rather than thinking about things which you have to do.
Free time – non-work time which you reserve to interact with others, take a break, and generally switch off for a bit.
Wasted effort – time that you spent on a task or activity that did not result in anything productive. This can be due to lack of focus, working on unimportant activities, or not listening to or following instructions properly.
Multitasking – doing more than one thing at once. Some people can do this effectively while most think they are being productive while doing this but are not. This idea came from thinking that humans can multitask like modern computers are able to do.
Procrastination – avoiding doing things that you know you have to do by doing nothing or doing other tasks that are easier. Use the Two Minute rule to stop procrastination by focusing on the task you need to work on for at least two minutes. The end result is that once you start the task you will continue it.
Staying focused at work is one of our biggest challenges, especially for the average worker. Daydreaming, procrastination, distractions, spending time on social media or doing trivial tasks when we should be concentrating on our to-do list, are all unproductive wastes of time.
Using ideas like the golden hour and prioritization while ensuring that you have an organized work environment are important for the day to day work. It is also important to eat healthy snacks and food while staying hydrated throughout the day instead of eating and drinking things that are bad for us is also important.
There are some people that are good at multitasking, while others find it too difficult to do and end up with wasted efforts due to not staying focused. This is debated by many people, but Tim Ferriss, who is one of the most productive people on the planet, gives a rather good argument against multitasking.
Live Conversation Example:
Marvin: I’m having a real problem organizing my work and keeping my focus. I notice that you are always really on top of things. Do you have any tips for me?
Jane: Well, I tend to do my most important things in the first part of the day. For me, that is my golden hour. Also, your desk is a mess. You need to have an organized work environment like you see with my work area.
Marvin: Thanks for the tips. I think that they will help me with staying focused even when I am working on routine tasks. It is easy to get distracted while working on repetitive tasks.
Jane: Be sure to avoid procrastination by following a to-do list where you follow prioritization to ensure that you do the most difficult tasks first.
Marvin: Can you show me how you organize your to-do list?
Jane: Yes, I will do that and also show you why multitasking is not always the best way to complete your work. Also, be sure to eat healthy snacks and food while staying hydrated throughout the day.
Have you heard of the two-minute rule to avoid procrastination? You can find it here http://jamesclear.com/how-to-stop-procrastinating.
Are you good at multitasking? Is multitasking the most effective way to work? Please explain both answers in detail.
Do you eat healthy food and snacks? Why is nutrition so important for maintaining focus? Should your workplace provide healthy food and drinks?
At what time of the day is your golden hour? What can you do to make this time more effective?