20 Ways to Stay Focused at Work

Whether you work in an office or from the comfort of your home, staying focused is a challenge. We live in a world of constant interruptions and disruptions, from colleagues needing our help to endless emails, smartphone notifications, and personal thoughts. 

As a result, we are always connected and frequently disturbed by incoming information or the possibility of incoming information. Our senses are always at work, and we often pick up noise from a chatty colleague, a construction site nearby, an uncomfortable chair, a very cold or noisy air conditioning machine, a small and inefficient monitor, and so on. 

Human beings can work and focus despite everything that can and would go wrong and distract them. But our modern lifestyle is based on a huge volume of routines, repetitive tasks, and evaluations. Our brains are always working. As a result, we struggle to stay focused for long periods. However, a few simple tips can help us remove the noise and find the strengths and energy to stay concentrated at work.

1.    Create Healthy Habits

We are creatures of habit. But while we quickly pick up terrible habits, we are slower at picking up good ones. Habits are wired connections, patterns that our brains execute automatically. You don’t have to think about how to drive your car daily. You do it automatically. That’s why if you transform work into a series of healthy habits, you don’t have to struggle to stay focused. You automatically are focused. 

In “The Power of Habit,” Charles Duhigg defines a habit as a cue-routine-reward loop. To develop a habit, you need a cue that triggers a routine and motivates you with a reward. For example, you can program a timer to remind you to take a break, step away from the computer, or take a walk. Or you can use the daily agenda provided by your calendar to trigger the routine of going through your mail before receiving the reward of the morning coffee.

Level 5 leadership is a concept developed in the book Good to Great by Jim Collins, highlighting the key habbits of top leaders.

2.    Define Boundaries

Staying focused is a personal matter. What works for your colleagues may not work for you. Therefore, it’s important to define your boundaries and communicate them to people around you. 

For example, you may need a certain temperature and humidity in the office to be healthy and comfortable. Or you may need less noise, fewer interruptions, or a different workflow. Some people are more productive in the morning and don’t want to be interrupted by meetings. Others don’t want to be bothered by complicated HR processes and waste time figuring out how to request time off.

Unless you respect your boundaries, you accumulate frustration, resentments, and anger, all responsible for poor focusing capacity.

The team of Aduro provided an excelent set of healthy boundary practices.

3.    Respect Your Time

For each of us, daily time management looks different. Some start their day early in the morning, preparing their children for school, meditating, or exercising. Others face a long commute to work. Some people need a long lunch break to pick up their children from school or do other personal tasks. And, of course, we all need a break from time to time.

How well you respect your time reflects in your performance at work. If you’re always in a hurry or forget to take a break, you will be more tired, frustrated, and inefficient. So, ask for a flexible work schedule if you need one, leave the desk when you feel the need to move your legs, and try to be on time both when you come to the office and when you leave for home.

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days.”—Zig Ziglar

4.    Schedule your day and share it with your coworkers

Having a clear agenda, where you know on what tasks you will work based on the allocated time, it's one of the best ways to get more done, and stay focused. Moreover the time blocking function helps on beeing accountable on time, and staying focused on your activity for the selected time interval.

When your co-workers know your schedule, they are less likely to interrupt you during important tasks. A shared calendar allows you to plan the day as you like and be available for your colleagues. They will know when you are in a meeting, out of the office, on a break, or up for a chat. They will also know when you don’t want to be disturbed, and it’s OK only to have a few hours a day to complete your tasks.

Tip: Shared Google Calendars are a great way to let them know when you're available. Here are some additional Google Calendar Tips.

5.    Watch Your Diet

Your capacity to stay focused depends on many things, including your diet. Hunger, cravings, or a coffee addiction may be a disruption like anything else. Your body will constantly ask for attention either by sending you for snack supplies or aching.

Extended office hours don’t usually go well with a healthy diet. We are used to eating while working, choosing snacks over cooked meals, and running on caffeine and sugar. We go for the easiest option that gives us energy fast. However, in the long-term, our bodies suffer. An unhealthy diet can affect the chemistry of our bodies, leading to a lack of concentration, tiredness, apathy, irritability, and health issues. 

6.    Remember to Exercise

The diet isn’t the only thing to remember. Especially if you have a sedentary lifestyle and a desk job, exercise should be part of your daily routine. One of your healthy habits may be doing a few stretching exercises during the day, taking quick walking breaks, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Although they are designed to ease the muscles, exercises clear the mind, lift your energy levels, and help you concentrate.

7.    Sleep Well

The quality and quantity of your sleep interfere with everything else in your life. A rested body and mind focus easily, are eager to take on new responsibilities, communicate better, and are more creative. Therefore, your capacity to stay focused at work starts with a good night’s sleep. A healthy diet and lifestyle improve the quality of sleep. So, as you can see, they all connect. People who stay focused at work have a healthy life outside the office.

8.    Set Achievable Goals

But not all have to do with your lifestyle and personal choices. Sometimes staying focused depends on how you manage your tasks. By setting achievable goals, you help your brain create healthy habits. The cue is planning and dividing your tasks into small, achievable goals. The routine is completing the tasks, including breaks and time for connecting with co-workers. The reward is achieving the goal. 

You get rid of guilt and resentment by completing short cycles each day. At the same time, you eliminate the discomfort and stress of not seeing the end of your work and worrying about it.

Tip: Discover some examples of how to setup SMART performance goals.

9.    Plan Your Tasks Based on Your Workflow

A suitable planning procedure includes not only tasks and timeframes but also your workflow. Plan your work day methodically, considering breaking down long tasks into short bursts you can sustain, whether you work better in the morning or afternoon, how much break time you need and when, and how much interaction with your colleagues is necessary. 

Keep your to-do list nearby, and don’t stress over it too much. You can have good days and bad days. As long as your planning is thoroughly done, your chance to achieve your realistic goals increases thoroughly.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax. - Abraham Lincoln

10.    Avoid Repetitive Tasks

We lose more time than we think with repetitive and sometimes useless tasks. For example, we check our mail or phone multiple times an hour or a day, even if it isn’t necessary. Or we write into our daily report each time we finish a task instead of writing the entire report at the end of the day.

Technology can help with many repetitive tasks. You don’t have to check whose birthday is today if you have an email notification keeping you updated. And you don’t have to check and recheck the meetings of the day if you have a reminder 30 minutes before the meeting and a daily agenda to begin with. So keep things simple and efficient and use your time for important tasks.

Tip: If you work in HR or manage a team, using a tool like LeaveBoard to allow employees to schedule absences will boost productivity by cutting repetitive tasks, eliminating errors, and streamlining communications.

11.    Organize Your Desk

Clutter may be a distraction because it takes you more time to find what you need, which is tiring and frustrating. It’s also less enjoyable than a clean, well-organized desk. You don’t need everything on your desk. 

Keep close just the things that bring you joy or are absolutely necessary. Also, ensure you keep close by the cues for taking a break or other healthy habits. Many people prefer to keep a bottle of water, a plant, pictures of their families, a toy that makes them smile, and other personal items on their desks. 

12.    Prioritize Your Work

Prioritizing is your best friend when you have too many to-do daily tasks. Match the priorities of the tasks with your workflow. Are you more energetic and inspired after the lunch break? Schedule the most important tasks for the afternoon. Do you need some time and space to recover after a brainstorming meeting? Schedule the less important or routine tasks for after the meeting.

Don’t forget to include breaks, peer time, and time alone with their appropriate priority. Remember to respect your boundaries and find fun in what you do.

13.    Make Lists But Do One Thing at a Time

Planning, prioritizing, and managing tasks go all in the same direction: making to-do lists. Lists are efficient and good to have nearby, but they can also be frightening. You must focus on one thing at a time to stay focused at work. Although some people are very good at multitasking, having more than one task in progress is tiring, stressful, and distracting. None of the tasks will have your total energy and attention.

Furthermore, when you allow yourself to do one thing at a time, you benefit from a change of scenery each time you switch to a different task. And this may be a reward in itself.

14.    Improve Your Communication Skills

One major distraction at work is dealing with colleagues and co-workers. Being a team player is essential for your performance. But something isn't right if you need to ask the same question multiple times or get interrupted with the same problem repeatedly. And often, the issue is the lack of communication skills.

Take some time to work on your communication skills, both verbal and in writing. Speak clearly and straight to the subject and support your questions or answers with data and explanatory materials. Don’t leave anything to interpretation.

15.    Upgrade Workplace Comfort

Sometimes the lack of focus is not your fault. The working environment doesn’t fit your expectations or doesn’t provide the comfort you need. You lack the technology to eliminate repetitive, time-consuming tasks, time management tools, or smooth HR procedures. Instead of focusing on important tasks, you waste time on administrative ones. 

Workplace comfort also means functional and efficient hardware and software resources, necessary tools for completing your work, adequate office space and facilities, access to food and beverages, low levels of noise and pollution, and so on. The entire work ecosystem affects your capacity to focus.

Here are 2 ideas you can practice:

  • Get a confortable chair. Since sitting is the new smoking, then investing ina confortable chair, will promote good posture and alleviate back pain.
  • Have water available. Staying hydrated at work results in better mental performance and cognition while helping fight agains tiredness.

16.    Reduce the number of meetings

Many times we feel that meetings are big time-wasters. This is because there isn’t a clear agenda, because of late colleagues, or because the topics are irrelevant to us. Even within virtual meetings, there is a 5-10 minutes lag with setting everything up.

Here are some tips:

  • Use goal allocation, task tracking, or project management tool that fits the way your business works. Everyone will be up to date with the state of play, and only important meetings will be organized.
  • If you have a very important deadline, then ask your manager to be excused.
  • Send the meeting agenda in advance. If you’re organizing it, stick to the time allocated for the meeting. 

17.    Work in a quiet space

Having people speaking loudly near you is not always the best way to advance with activities that require intense focus. A quiet environment will help you to make more progress in a shorter amount of time since you will not be interrupted by your coworkers with questions or just background noise.

Tips: If you have a big milestone, then ask your manager to work from home to be able to deliver the work in time. Additionally, you can buy noise-canceling headphones to eliminate background noise.

18. Eliminate digital distractions

Does your smartphone send you notifications regarding the messages you receive? Or maybe because of a new email? Here is a tip: You don’t have to answer instantly. Most of the things you receive are neither that important anyways. 

Even NYTimes  highlighted that checking your email every minute is not a good practice and is not healthy. Checking your email every 3 hours is ok, and should not cause any anxiety or stress that you’re not answering promptly.

“A survey focused on digital distraction showcases that 75 percent of people admit that digital notifications lead to procrastination and decreased focus, and that individuals waste nearly an entire eight-hour work days' worth of time checking notifications every week.”

Tips: Here are 3 quick ideas you can implement right away: 

  • Deactivate notifications from your apps, 
  • Turn your phone to mute, 
  • Within Outlook for desktop, deactivate new email alerts.

19.    Try mindfulness meditation

Mindful mediation is a practice that helps with slowing down thoughts, letting go of distractions and negative ideas, being more present, and eliminating judgment.

By practicing meditation consistently, you will be able to build new skills to manage stress, increase self-awareness, reduce emotional impact and increase imagination and creativity.

Practicing meditation can be straightforward with an app like Calm, Headspace, or InsightsTimer. Or just trust YouTube algorithm to recommend you something to calm you down. And after some time, you will learn the basics and feel the results.

20.    Take brakes

You are not a machine. It would help if you had some time to rewind and recharge to avoid burnout. 

Stretch your body. Start with the neck and shoulders, and finish with the arms and legs. Do this 3-4 times daily, and you will feel rejuvenated. 

When you’re blocked on a particular problem, going for a short walk outside, and getting some fresh air helps your brain to look at the issue from a different perspective.

Another effective way to use the break is to have lunch outside and meet a friend.

Here is a summary of the 20 tips to stay focused at work. If you enjoyed the article, don't heasitate to share it on social media or with your colleagues.


Taking advantage of technology to release you from repetitive and time-consuming tasks, improving your communication skills, creating, and respecting boundaries, and upgrading your workplace comfort are just e few ideas to help you stay focused at work. The most important one is to have a holistic approach. To maintain your focus, you must be rested, healthy, and happy. A good balance between work and life and a job you like is the secret ingredient of focused, accomplished, and hard-working people.

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