Avoiding Distraction: 10 Ways to Stay Focused at Work

I write this article sitting in a busy internet cafe. I am struggling to stay focused with all the distractions going on around me. Television blaring, music on the radio, beautiful women and all the distractions (Facebook) that are on the net itself.

So how can we avoid distraction and stay focused at work?

10 Ways to stay focused at work

1. Develop a firm resolve
The first thing you need to do is take a few moments to develop a firm conviction that what you are doing needs to be done and you cannot waste any time. I tend to waste the most time when I have nothing particularly pressing due so I feel like I can do it later. Develop a firm resolve that you need to work now.

2. Break the procrastination habit
Leading on from number one you need to fight the habit you have built up over the years to let your mind tell you it is okay to do it later. Sometimes we complain that we are distracted but in actual fact we are just procrastinating. Make sure you know the difference.

3. Set a goal
Each day you should set yourself several goals. A goal does not just have to be something that takes years to achieve – a goal is any ambition that you set to a timeline. If you want to get a work report done by the end of the day you need to set yourself that goal and write it down on paper. Written down goals are somehow more powerful.

4. Be strong
When a stunning woman walks past it is easy to do what everyone else does and stare. However, who does that really help? It doesn’t help you get your work done. It doesn’t satisfy your sexual urges (it makes them worse!) so it would just be better not to look up. Remind yourself that you are in control of your mind and be strong.

5. Be a rock, not a tree
I once heard someone describe an influencial political leader like this:

“Mr. X is not a tree. He is a rock. He doesn’t get blown around by the wind.”

It is important to understand the wisdom of this. It is important for you not to get blown around by all the external events that are taking place all the time. This goes for work, love, happiness, etc. If you allow the things outside of your mind to take hold of you it will not be long before you have lost control of your life. Be like the rock.

6. Relax
Sometimes when we are too tight and stressed we find it difficult to achieve any sort of focus. When your mind is tight it will be taken away by anything that enters the senses. For this reason it is important to stay loose and relaxed. When we are relaxed we are more able to work with our mind. Our thoughts will be clearer and we will have more control over them.

7. Disconnect the internet
If you really need to get some work done it is often a good idea to turn off the internet for an hour or so. Make sure you have everything you need and then just switch it off for a specific amount of time. When we have distractions easily available to is we will often fall victim to them. Identify what distracts you and then get rid of it if you start to feel tempted.

8. Avoid the coffee
Coffee makes us jittery and anxious. It is very hard to stay focussed when you have had a few cups of coffee as your body will simply not let your mind sit still for two seconds. If you need to drink while you are trying to stay concentrated it is better to drink green tea, water, milk or something that has a relaxing effect.

However, sleepiness can also be a distraction in which case you should check out the tips in this post on waking yourself up at work.

9. Close the door
One of the most simple yet powerful things you can do is simply close the door. People will not feel as obliged to “stop by” if the door is closed. Of course those that intended to come and see you will still do so, but this who are just walking past will not stop in. Don’t always have it closed, however, as this will dilute the potency of the message. I keep my door closed only when I am actively working.

10. Find a deep motivation
When I was in India I learned the importance of having a correct motivation. The old buddhist master used to say that when you have a correct motivation you will be more able to accomplish tasks in a meaningful way and you will be less likely to lose your way because the motivation really means something.

The best motivation you can develop is one that is focussed on helping others. If you apply this motivation to whatever you do your life will work out and become a very meaningful journey.

“As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery… we have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger, attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion and a sense of universal responsibility are the sources of peace and happiness.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama

top image:Creative Commons License photo credit: DeusXFlorida

13 thoughts on “Avoiding Distraction: 10 Ways to Stay Focused at Work

  1. Another sick post.

    That quote at the end really hit me – it is so true. What’s the point of going to work every friggin day if you aren’t helping anyone. Some of us aren’t even helping ourselves.

    Thank you. Again.


  2. Closing the door is the single best thing you can do. It helps you “shut in” your energy so you don’t feel like you need to wander around.

    Close the door. Work.

  3. I got some relief after reading this.
    I have done some self-introspection and checked myself whether do i really set daily goals.Back came a reply from my consience which is shocking to me.I realized that my conscience has been reprimanding me and advising me for the past 22 years to think high and it knows that the thing which stops me from doing so is having some junk and stray feelings always which breaks my concentration.
    Now,my conscience is more clear after reading this.
    Thanks to the author.

  4. I find it ironic that another possible way to phrase the title of this article is “How to Distract Yourself from Distractions.” 🙂

    That said, another great way to focus for me is to put on some headphones and listen to music that doesn’t have any words.

    This is great for two reasons:

    1) The non-lyrical music helps the brain focus
    2) People see the headphones on and are much less likely to disturb.

  5. Well firstly thanks to the author. The guidance here is really worth thinking. Right v must stay focused n hungry for success n all the tips here given helps for working on ourself. Procrastination is the biggest stone in the path of success. V ll hav to change to find some new blooming change in our life.

  6. thank you so much! this really is an eye oppener.
    I never thought of it this way, and about being motivated by thinking that you are helping other people really helped me.
    U are a wonderful writer, thanks 🙂

  7. I have had massive problems with procrastination all of my life. Recent years have been really bad leading to all the classic emotions of self loathing, shame, anger etc. I do several different things for a living – all unrelated so things are easily cluttered and jumbled if I take my eye off the ball for too long.

    What has really helped recently is meditation. The art of emptying my mind and developing my awareness. It brings about a nice inner peace. Once done I then picture myself doing the things that I need to do and the feelings that achieving those set goals will give me in my mind’s eye. So far it is still working.

    What’s great is I can now meditate whilst cycling to work. 2 birds, one stone.

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