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I’ve just had one of those days where, no matter what I do, I keep losing focus. This week I’ve been travelling a fair bit, but sometimes I think your brain just doesn’t appreciate being forced to look at a computer screen for hours on end. Here are a few things that work for me and help keep me on the task at hand ― hopefully you will add a few of your own ideas as well.

Firstly, recognise that unless you’re super human, you are never going to be “100% on” all the time – everyone has off days.  Equally however, you can’t just expect to be focused if you put no work into achieving it.  Focus is about making sure you know what you want to achieve and by when.

I can spend my days being continually interrupted and distracted by clients, staff, tweets, voicemail, email, suppliers and phone calls getting none of “my work” completed if I don’t have a plan and some structure.  For me, this starts with a list and despite my love of technology… paper and pen seems to works best when creating it.  I write slower than I type, and somehow with my own handwriting a list is easier to quickly “sort” than if it was on screen with bullet points and immediately gets me more focused.

Email has transformed business productivity over the years, but if I’m being really honest it’s something I have a “love/hate” relationship with.  Switch off the email instant alerts – they can suck the focus out of you in a nano-second.  I find flicking over every hour means I answer all of my emails at the same time and am not distracted by my inbox pinging every few minutes.  Be an “email leader” and don’t send emails to someone 4 metres away from you ― having a real conversation usually gets better outcomes faster.

Know what works best for you ― while some people find multi-tasking easy, I mostly benefit from focussing on one task at a time and finishing it to a high standard rather than having numerous jobs on the go with none of them being completed.

Low blood sugar and dehydration are concentration killers― have a water bottle and maybe some snacks on your desk.

When all else fails , I take a walk outside… getting some fresh air and spending just 5 minutes alone can make a world of difference ( just don’t take your mobile or you’ll be defeated before you leave the office).

So what do you think, what tips of stories do you have on finding focus at work?

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Julian Smith

Julian Smith

Julian Smith is responsible for MYOB’s corporate affairs, government and public relations in Australia and New Zealand and is also New Zealand general manager. The qualified lawyer has spent much of his career at large multinationals in a range of senior legal, sales, marketing and customer management roles. Julian is a regular keynote speaker and business commentator and sits on a number of government and industry boards and advisory panels. Julian can be found on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/JulianTSmith">@JulianTSmith</a> or contacted via email Julian.smith@myob.com

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