3 Ways To Increase Focus In The Workplace

Most human resources studies show levels of disengagement in the workforce have never been higher. 
While this can be down to numerous reasons, from a poor workplace culture and inadequate reward systems, to poor leadership, there is also the element of distraction that plays an increasingly large part in this trend.
You don't have to look any further than our phones - with an always-on source of information, communication, and entertainment at our fingertips - to suggest why distraction is almost ever-present in modern workplaces.

One study by Steelcase UK, which looked at worker behaviour, found that workers are, on average, distracted every three minutes. Perhaps even more significantly, it takes 23 minutes to return to the task after an interruption.
If we transpose these statistics over a whole working day, we could be forgiven for thinking that nothing much gets done due to these distractions. Productivity, wellbeing, and performance are all affected.
Managing employee attention spans and engagement levels is therefore critical to an organisation's competitiveness.

Neuroscience suggests that the brain uses 20 per cent of the body's energy, but has finite energy capacity. So expecting high performance for eight hours of focused attention per day is unrealistic; instead, attention will ebb and flow throughout the day and workplaces need to cater for these changes.

So how can we start to encourage greater focus and attention spans in the face of all these workplace distractions?

1. Mindfulness training
Training the mind is beneficial to increasing focus and can help us avoid the mistake of trying to multi-task. Being able to concentrate wholly on one thing is an important skill that can be learnt - and focusing on the breath (as in mindfulness training) has been shown to have many health benefits. As we become more skilled at mindfulness, we are better able to block out unwanted distractions, and prevent the constant switching of attention that can sap valuable neural energy.

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