If you ask a professional Olympic diver how to stay focused, they won’t have a problem defining the very moment of highest focus: it is seconds before they take the plunge into the pool until they touch the water with the head.
In that brief time, they have gathered all skills, experience, and practice to produce top-ranking results.
What makes a competitive athlete so focused on the task at hand that they forget about everything else?
All skiers rushing down steep Alpine slopes, tennis champions serving aces, and soccer players shooting penalties who enjoy their work have excellent routines.
Not everyone is destined for the Olympics. However, anyone can learn from champions and apply their methods to work to superpower their business.
Listen to tips about razor-sharp focus from our CEO on the Virtual Frontier Podcast!
How to Stay Focused on Work without a Hitch
The easy way to stay focused at work starts with yourself and extends to your environment.
To stay focused on work, you need to remove internal and external distractions. Internal distractions are those that depend only on yourself, including taking regular care of your physical and mental health. External distractions come from the environment, such as phone notifications or street noise.
You have more control over internal distractions. Despite not being able to completely eliminate those external focus-stealers, you can manage them to optimize your productivity and set an example for your team.
Here are five ways to keep in check your focus at work:
1. Identify immersive activities.
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The theory of flow by Csikszentmihalyi is a concept that explains satisfaction or happiness as being fully immersed in a creative activity.
Flow is such a state in which you lose track of time, much like highly competitive sports at the peak of the activity.
Applied to the business environment flow means:
- Activities you will do for the sake of doing it (even when there is no direct material compensation).
- Challenging goals that keep you alert but not stressed.
- Task difficulty that corresponds to your skills.
It is easier to see how to apply the flow concept to managing your team.
However, you are the starter and accelerator.
So, your business strategy must align your goals, skills, and growth in a manageable structure to help you stay focused and maintain the flow for your team. Identifying your creative and problem-solving skills and how they keep you in the flow creates a sustainable structure for your business.
2. Set SMART goals.
Having unrealistic expectations from oneself or the environment is a common trap for managers.
It is easy to get ahead of yourself and forget other aspects of your living. But that will last you weeks only, perhaps a few months.
For a more realistic focus on work, your aspirations arising from the flow must be arranged as SMART goals.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
An Olympic athlete who runs marathons must run a certain number of miles every day, fuel the body with proper nutrition, and get enough sleep. This is necessary to stay sharp and in top shape to get a medal when the Olympics date comes.
As a comparison, they won’t run a marathon every day. That is not a SMART goal. Such a goal depletes resources and produces injuries.
By setting SMART goals, you transform business concepts and ideas into tangible achievements. Separating long-term plans into workable chunks keeps you engaged on a daily basis. Ensure all your goals are SMART so that they are attainable and do not lose focus.
3. Establish a realistic daily routine.
Based on flow activities and SMART goals, you need a viable daily routine to stay focused. There are many distractors when working in a conventional office.
Luckily, a few have been eliminated with remote work, such as colleagues tapping you on the shoulder to search for answers. Few are new, such as buzzing phone notifications.
Furthermore, you cannot eradicate other roles you play in life, so you must be realistic about how your day looks like.
A realistic daily routine should pay attention to yourself as a holistic manager with self-management and people-management skills.
An excellent place to start self-management is to dedicate daily time to managing the so-called happiness chemicals, including the four neuro-transmitters dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins.
You get a boost for the four chemicals by leaving time for specific activities.
- Dopamine: completing tasks (checklists, anyone?), celebrating personal and team accomplishments, proper nourishment with adequate amounts of protein, and self-care activities.
- Oxytocin: spending time with family and friends and giving compliments to coworkers.
- Serotonin: Spending time in nature and physical activity – a good reminder that you need to take time off from work, replenish and refocus.
- Endorphins: Comedy, exercise, and pleasurable food (yes, eating chocolate is good for you!)
We can help you create a realistic scrum daily structure you can maintain beyond short-term goals.
4. Discover your focus time.
You cannot remain 100% focused all the time. Therefore, it is essential to know your maximum productivity focus time. For most people, this is usually first thing in the morning.
If this is early in the day, you need to assign those hours to build your business strategy, creating products, and improving your current offering. In a nutshell, you should devote your most demanding focus time to crucial business decisions that require maximum creativity (flow included) and main business goals.
However, throughout the day, you should also not forget about:
- Tasks with minimal leadership requirements suitable for automation
- Communicating with your team to empower and lead your team
- Having a fulfilling personal life.
If you don’t know how to find your focus time, discover how to prioritize your objectives by reinventing the wheels of your sales machine.
5. Manage your environment.
Finally, the answer to how to stay focused can be found in how you deal with external distractors. We have covered a part of the external management of distractors in the previous sections. But, don’t forget to:
- Reduce or eliminate app and phone notifications
- Create a healthy work environment
- Use the Pomodoro technique
- Take regular breaks between difficult tasks
- Organize your workstation
- Take one thing at a time – no multitasking
- Create a supportive communication system
If you take the lead by managing internal and external distractions, it is easier to stay focused as a way of life.
An effective leadership style and growing your business requires consistency, resilience, and concentration on the task at hand.
Take the bull by the horns and improve your focus.