Am I the only one having more difficulty focusing at work? (To my boss who is reading this…I promise I’m getting it all done!). But really, there are so many things keeping us distracted—the news, the dishes that need to be done, our kids, and binge watching Bridgerton.
The thing is, I really want to be focused. I love my job, and I want to bring my A-game to everything I do. I also love feeling unencumbered when I’m with my family and relaxed at the end of the day (not worrying about my evergrowing to-do list).
So, are there secrets to being focused and organized at work? Yes! And, we’ve got the solutions. We sat down with talented professional organizers to learn their top tips to help you focus, and, we’re happy to share.
You’ll be surprised at how simple it can be…
10 WAYS TO FOCUS AT WORK
Set Up Your Command Center
When trying to stay organized, create a simple “command center” by using either a dry erase board, bulletin board, or a chalkboard that you hang in a spot you’ll see easily,” says Jackie O’Brien, founder of Clarity Through Organization. “Write out your week’s priorities; then, break it down further by what you’ll do each day. This way, you can see everything that needs to be done and tweak accordingly as the week progresses.” Remember not to overload a day. Stick to 4 max (you can always add more).
“We have enough distraction in life, and when we have clean surfaces (in all areas), it allows us to focus on the task in front of us and not feel overwhelmed,” says Brittany Moore of B.Moore Organized. Get some organizing bins and folders to put everything away on your desk. Also, really think if you need all those post-its or knick knacks. It may be time for the donation box.
“I also have a “killer” task management system,” Moore adds. “This will help you to stay on task and feel a sense of reward when you get to cross off each task, and will motivate you to continue down your list.” But, remember to use just one notebook so you don’t have loads of loose paper all over the place.
Find Your Ideal Work Time
“Take a few weeks to simply notice the time of day (or days) that you’re most productive. For me, it’s the morning before my kids get up. Once I figured this out and made waking up early a priority, I got twice as much done,” says Kelly McMenamin, Organizing Coach and founder of PixiesDidIt!. “Once you’ve noticed a pattern, treat that time of day as sacred. Mark it as unavailable in your calendar (don’t plan meetings or Zoom calls). Turn off any distractions like phone, email, or Slack notifications. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done when you focus on what actually works for you.
Color Code Your Emails
“I encourage clients to color code their emails by project, person, or whatever suits their situation best. This allows you to visualize the work in front of you and tie various projects together at the blink of an eye,” says Moore. You also should clean up (or start) an email folder system to sort out all that comes in.
Set a Timer
“Add tasks directly to the calendar in your phone in 15-60 minute increments,” Moore suggests. “Now, you’ve just made space in your day to accomplish the task, and set a timer so you can focus on it in that given moment.”
Put Your Desk To Bed
“At the end of the day, clean up your desk like you would, say, the kitchen,” says O’Brien. “Go through all the papers and sort out what needs to be tossed (and, go toss it!). File what you can in an organized “tomorrow” bin, and make your to-do list for the next day. A clean surface at night will lead to a more focused morning; so, put your desk to bed!”
Organize Your Drawers
“Random tidbits always find their way into your life, even at work. And, finding things is the entire point of being organized,” explains McMenamin. “A great drawer organizer is key. I love iDesign Linus Shallow Drawer Organizers—you can repurpose them anywhere at home…kitchen drawers, medicine cabinets, and they are truly an organizing lifesaver.”
Celebrate the Small Wins
“Time management is one of the most important elements for an organized life. I always recommend making a list of tasks you need to complete each day of the week. However, if you have 15 tasks on your “To Do” list that day but only accomplish 5, that’s still a successful day! Take a deep breath and celebrate,” says O’Brien. “To-do lists can evolve. Perhaps think about scaling down the number you add the following day to set realistic goals (you can always add more!).
Sunday “Office” Prep
“Just like someone may meal prep on a Sunday, I work prep,” says O’Brien. “I’ll map out my week and note the events, meals, and tasks for each day (even the small things). I find that I am more likely to accomplish tasks when I divide them up between each day of the week versus making one list for the whole week. Then, add it to my “Command Center.”
When In Doubt, Write It Out
“Research has found that the action of writing builds a link between the spatial part of our brain and the verbal part, and strengthens the process by which we memorize important information. It makes sense…when I don’t write things out in my calendar, I forget things way more often,” shares McMenamin. “Buy an agenda or notebook that you adore (so you know you’ll use it). I splurge and buy Smythson’s Soho Agenda for myself because the leather and gold-edged pages make me want to sit down and schedule mundane tasks.”
Other planners we love at Nutritious Life are the Fringe Studio planners (chic, weekly layouts, plenty of space to write all your to-dos, and fun stickers!) and Erin Condren’s LifePlanner (just plain fun and bright, so many stickers, areas to get organized and it’s customizable!) If you are looking more for a goal setting planner, check out MiGoals Goal Digger Planner that helps you understand your skills, passions and really get inspired!”
(Photo credit: Shutterstock; company brands)