Staying Focused Can Lead to Success

What are you doing right now? Are you simultaneously sitting at your desk, scrolling through your phone, checking social media, thinking of getting a second cup of coffee, chatting with co-workers and pondering how you’ll ever finish the stack of work in front of you? Well, if you’re like a lot of people, you’re probably lacking focus, and that could negatively impact your productivity.

That’s not exactly shocking news. We know that our daily tasks become more difficult if we lack focus. According to Dr. Jim Taylor, an adjunct faculty member at the University of San Francisco and a Huffington Post columnist, focus “doesn’t get the respect it deserves.” In fact, Taylor points out in a recent column that it’s actually the “gateway to all thinking.” But what exactly is focus? The column states that, “Simply put, focus involves the ability to pay attention to things that will help and avoid distractions that will hurt your work efforts.”

Taylor maintains that “Without focus, you won’t be as effective in your work because if you’re not concentrating on the right things or are distracted, you won’t be capable of getting your work done.” OK, so that’s not new information, but every once in a while it’s worth noting what causes our minds to wander so that we can make some changes. Everything from being hungry to checking email can impact our attention and make important tasks more difficult to complete.

So how do we keep distractions from causing us to lose sight of the task at hand? Many PR professionals will agree that at any given time you have a full mental calendar of projects that need to be taken care of, and it seems that everything – from proposals to conference calls with clients – is a top priority. But what about the rest of your “must dos”? Is your brain swimming with thoughts of what to cook for dinner; what you’ll wear to a party on the weekend; your holiday gift list? The simple answer is to temporarily push those thoughts to the back of your mental checklist.

Another step to regaining focus is to simplify your physical surroundings and clean up the mess, so to speak. “A work space filled with clutter means a mind filled with distractions. To help you focus better, simplify your office by removing unnecessary clutter. Sure, you can keep some family photos and mementos to make your office an inviting place for you to work. At the same time, get rid of anything that doesn’t serve a specific work function,” the article states.

The next piece of advice is to take control of your technology. Is your phone beeping every few minutes? Are you checking your tablet and monitoring how many people tweeted at you or “liked” the picture you posted on Instagram or Facebook a few minutes ago? Try logging off until the task at hand is complete. Sure, you might fancy yourself a great mutlitasker, but when you have a specific job to do, it should get all of your attention.

So there you have it – your path to better productivity and a few tips to make sure that your train of thought doesn’t derail when you have something important to do.