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How to increase your focus at work

focus, work, government accountingIn the accounting profession, work can get busy. So much so, that many of us have probably caught ourselves saying, “I was so busy at work today, but feel like I got nothing done.”

In general, one minute of focused time equals four and a half minutes of unfocused time, and while people can switch back and forth between tasks quickly, we cannot genuinely focus on more than one thing at a time. The Journal of Accountancy did a podcast this year addressing that exact topic; increasing focus in the workplace. Time management specialist and CEO of Designs on Time, Pam Vaccaro, spoke and had several interesting ideas on how to combat unfocused time.

Change your mindset

Using checklists to prioritize and increase focus may work for some, but what happens to that focus if tasks aren’t getting checked off due to the interruptions that are naturally going to arise throughout the day? Rather than putting the focus on what wasn’t completed during the day, we can take small bites of time to do smaller, but meaningful tasks to allow ourselves to shift the attention to what is being accomplished versus what isn’t getting done.

Foster an environment of focused time

Rather than asking questions throughout the day as they come up, consider batching those questions to ask all at once instead of interrupting yours and someone else’s focus several times throughout the day.

According to Vaccaro, it can also be helpful to give and receive updates on projects at the end of each day. Doing this, and knowing the status of items, will allow you to focus on tasks at hand rather than get distracted by the status of other high priority tasks on the team, and can put your mind at ease.

Prioritize your peak time

It’s important to understand how you work and what times of day are most productive. For example, some feel most energized first thing in the morning. Understanding when your peak time is can allow for high priority tasks to be accomplished during that time, and lower priority items to be saved during times of day with less energy.

Megan Gaughan