Four Easy Ways to Refocus At Work When You’re Too Distracted


It’s Friday, Friday, Friday…I know that song is just awful; but it really is catchy, isn’t it? I don’t know about you, but by the time Thursday rolls around, I’m done with weekdays and my husband being at work all day long and kids and pants and responsibilities. Of course, I’m a mom so I’m stuck with the responsibilities and kids part no matter what, but I like weekends when my husband is home and doesn’t desert me in enemy territory alone and by myself all day long. Also, by Thursday I mean Monday afternoon, possibly late morning. Early morning. Monday morning. Sunday night.

My point is that the later it gets in the week, the less focus I have. The beginning of the week is all right. My kids are worn out after long, fun weekends and I’m ready to focus and get things done at home and at work (I work from home, so that’s kind of the same thing). By mid-week, the kids are crazy and my life feels a little bit like a living nightmare of diapers and snack cups and boredom. It’s not always easy to focus, and that is a problem. Not only can a lack of focus make it difficult for me to get things done, it also makes me more likely to make mistakes. It also makes me quite grouchy, tired and overwhelmed.

I know I’m not the only one, so I thought I might take a few moments to sit back and ask you if you are willing to look at your own life on this beautiful Friday and see if your focus is all out-of-whack and possibly nonexistent. Is it? I bet it is. It’s like 6 hours from weekend and you’re done. On that note, I thought I might try and help us all out a bit by learning a few new ways we can continue to focus at work even when we are so overwhelmed we just can’t.

Clean up

I can’t work or live in a mess. Since I work from home and currently have four kids at home, I find that it’s difficult for me to concentrate and focus when I know my kids have made a mess. Since I don’t allow my desk to ever look messy, that’s not a problem. However, my house can become messy very quickly with all these kids home, so I will get up and clean up so that I can calm down, relax and refocus. If your desk is a mess, why not take a few moments to clear it off, clean it up and make things more productive for yourself? It might make you more capable of focusing and getting things accomplished in a timely manner. It helps; I promise. Less clutter in your life means good things.

Take a break

It’s probably not the advice you were expecting, but it does work. Sometimes when I’m in a mental place that does not allow me to focus, I just take a break. Sometimes you’re just not there and you just cannot get it done, right? When this happens to me – as it does often – I make a point of getting up and getting moving. I might go to the gym or take a quick walk, make a snack or just do something that makes it possible for me to refocus and gather my thoughts so that I can get back to work and get things done. It works every single time.

Turn off the emails

I had to do this a long time ago, and it’s been the most helpful thing in my life. When my phone or iPad are constantly buzzing with new emails, I want to check them. It might be important. I’ve silenced both so that I only receive notifications that I have unread emails every hour. I know that there are emails sitting in there probably waiting for me to read them, but I don’t feel that guilt and that distraction that I’m ignoring them by not clicking on the app when I see that little number sitting there. Only checking my email once every hour is far more productive for me than checking it every two minutes when a new one comes through.

Turn on relaxing music

As a matter of fact, I’m sitting in my office right now with my Pandora station turned onto relaxing classical music with my ear buds in. My husband hasn’t left for work just yet and he’s up and moving around, talking to our 5-year-old – she’s the only one awake at the moment – and it distracts me. When I put on relaxing music, however, I can tune them out and actually focus on my work because I cannot hear the banter or the chitter chatter in the background.

 Photo by Getty Images

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