There are distractions everywhere. They can be small like phone notifications and emails, or large like new projects and last minute meetings. Sometimes it’s just a chatty coworker. Start by determining which distractions are the biggest offenders of breaking your focus. That can be as simple as keeping a notepad handy and making a checkmark every time you lose your focus. Once you’ve done that for a few days, start by writing down exactly what it was that derailed you. You’ll start to see a pattern emerge, and once you’re aware of it you’ll be able to change your habits.
Learn how to prioritize.
Just like distractions, your workload itself can be cause for losing focus. We’re often faced with a mountain of work that needs to get done, and it’s all important. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by that and feel like you’re drowning. The trick to conquering your workload is learning how to prioritize. You can do this by taking stock of all the work you need to get done, and all you need is either a spreadsheet or you can go old-school with paper and pen. Categorize projects by deadline, then sort them. You can sort them by difficulty, time it will take to accomplish, or anything else that helps you get things under control. While it can be a daunting task at first, if you make it a daily or weekly habit, it will simply become routine. You’ll learn to focus on what’s most important, and in turn that ensures that you don’t drop the ball on any priorities.
Respect goes a long way in the workplace. You need to respect yourself as well as respecting others. If you don’t respect yourself, you’ll project that lack of respect onto others. The best way to practice respect is by being tolerant of others. It’s easy to snap to a judgement and not give things a second thought, but it’s certainly not productive, nor does it make for a happy workplace. Conflict can start from a single snap judgement and causes unnecessary tension on a team. Respect that people will have differing opinions and make it a practice to start a discussion rather than an argument.
The best way to be a great employee is to take an interest in your personal development. When you first start a job or get a promotion, you’re hungry to learn as much as possible. As you stay in a position longer, you get comfortable with the day to day consistency, and that drive and desire to learn tends to fade. Not only will learning help you advance in your career, it will make your days more interesting. Learning will help you stay up to date on today’s ever changing workplace trends and advances in technology.
Spend a little less time glued to your screen.
It’s probably best we don’t count the hours we spend staring at a screen each day. At work, our primary method of communication tends to be virtual, whether it’s through email or an app like Slack. When was the last time you walked over to a co-worker to ask them a question? It’s usually easier to email them, so that you can continue multi-tasking or not disrupt your workflow with the distraction of talking. However, we get many benefits from speaking to someone face to face. It can reduce the amount of time we spend making decisions and encourages collaboration. Also, the act of talking to someone can reduce stress by giving you a quick break from over-focusing on your work.
It’s easy to simply show up at work and just go through the motions every day. It’s easy to do the bare minimum, but ultimately that’s not satisfying. Be committed to fully investing yourself in your work. You’ll feel more connected to your job and in turn, you’ll be more productive and successful. It’s challenging to stay 100% committed, but it’s well worth the effort. All the tips above combined with commitment will make you the best employee you can possibly be.
Ultimately, it’s about investing in yourself and always striving to put your best foot forward. Whether you want to stand out as a leader, take on more responsibility, or move up the career ladder, it’s all about being the best employee you can be.