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Loss of focus? How to get 'with it' at work

June 03, 2010 16:04 IST

Stop getting through your work day with a lack of enthusiasm and focus -- here's how to set about avoiding distraction.

Consider this -- you have a client meeting in the next half an hour, and you're still compiling your data. You are aware of the number of reports that need to be prepared yet you find it difficult to complete the task. In fact, you are never able to complete the day's tasks before it is wrap-up time. If this is what you experience regularly, you clearly have a problem focusing and concentrating at work.

Lack of concentration leads to the inability to meet deadlines, increased work pressure and thereby increased stress and ill health. There could be many reasons why you fail to focus. An assessment of these causes may help you focus and enhance your productivity at work.

De-stress to avoid distraction

Very often, stress may be the reason behind your inability to concentrate. There may be a thousand things on your mind -- things to do at home, or your child left alone, or even the pressure of your job itself that can be very demanding and may take a toll on you, leaving you harried and therefore de-focused.

Deal with it: First, organise yourself. Set your priority list of work, plan your schedule beforehand and attend to each task one by one. Do not multitask at such times. Instead, concentrate on the most important job, finish it and then jump to the next. This way, you won't keep anything for the last minute.

Fix your fatigue

If you are pushing your body beyond its capacity, you are sure to be fatigued. Working days and nights without adequate rest, without allowing your body's metabolism time to adjust is bound to result in the collapse of your immune system. You will fail to think right if there is barely any time to relax your mind, and your body is exhausted and bereft of energy. Fatigue may also result from any underlying health disorder that you have not taken notice of. Ignoring early signs of fatigue may lead to chronic fatigue syndrome.

Deal with it: Make sure you start your day with a sumptuous, healthy breakfast complete with complex carbohydrates to keep you energetic throughout the day. It is also important to have your meals on time everyday, exercise regularly for 30 minutes a day, increase your iron consumption, decrease your caffeine intake and watch your weight. These disciplinary measures will go a long way in helping you focus at work.

Combat anxiety

Anxiety generates feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness and nervousness in a person. While it may take you time to decipher the exact cause of anxiety, it has a detrimental impact on performance at work. Anxiety disorder is a major contributor to losing concentration at work and also impacts your emotional health.

Deal with it: Identify your fears -- is there a deep-rooted cause or are you someone who panics during stressful times? Keeping a positive attitude will help you tide over your anxiety. Tell yourself, "I can do it", and then chalk out your day -- you will see yourself optimising your time fully.

Maximise your sleep

Sleeping the requisite hours is perhaps the most powerful way to get back your lost concentration. Lack of sleep leaves you drowsy, tired and addled the next day. Identify the cause of insomnia -- is it stress, personal or professional, is it depression, is it your odd work hours or any underlying health disorder?

Deal with it: Sleep! That is the only way out. Understand your body clock and schedule yourself to sleep for at least 7-8 hours a night. Avoid caffeine before hitting the bed, have a warm shower, turn on soothing music, or read a book. You can also try taking a power nap between work if possible.

Overcome procrastination

There are times when you are so overloaded with work, with each of your tasks demanding every bit of your attention that it becomes difficult to attend to all of them, leading you to procrastinate on some. While psychologists see it as a personality trait, often, the pressure of the task, especially the difficult one, is responsible for it, leading you to lose your concentration on other tasks. The stress and fear of not finishing your tasks on time affects your concentration.

Deal with it: Learn the art of delegating jobs. Divide your work according to the timelines assigned and organise and follow your priority list strictly to meet your deadlines on time.

Cope with depression

Do you suffer from chronic depression? Or is workplace stress, relationship stress or any chronic health problem making you depressed and lose focus at work? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depressive moods can be identified by loss of interest or concentration, sleep disturbances as also fatigue or loss of energy.

Deal with it: Source the root of your depression. If it is job stress, a nagging colleague or partner, or your inability to deal with a problem, it is temporary and there are ways to cope with it. If you suffer from chronic depression, you must seek help from a counsellor. is your online health buddy, helping you to manage your health better with its various services such as expert blogs, ask the expert, health resources and health networking.