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  • Alan Golik

How to Focus Better for Work

You’re focused. You’re focused. You’re focused. You’re not. Anddddddd there goes another half hour of doing nothing.


We’ve all been there before, it happens. However, if you find yourself functioning like this often, then perhaps you could change something to reap more attentiveness in your everyday work. I fine-tune my concentration facets all the time, seeing what works and what doesn’t for myself. And not everything is universal. You might like two cups of coffee bright and early, whereas another person wakes up at the same time with a light jog. Everyone’s focus patterns are different. The following are just three of the tactics that I constantly remind myself of, in that they assist in making sure I can get the most effective work done on a daily basis. To make it memorable, I’ve come up with the acronym SAM: Stretching, Atmosphere, and Music.



Stretching - When do you do it?


Office desks kill you. They don’t transform into ravaging monsters, but they are many people’s natural enemies. Whether it be in school, at home, or in the work building, we’ve all experienced being cooped up in a stationary position for hours upon hours. Our backs tighten, mood and motivation declines, and we ultimately lose sight of our performance. And whether you already believe in it or not, getting up to shake yourself awake helps tremendously. If you’re locked in the zone and working diligently, then continue in your engrossment. But, if you’re dozing off or find your mind wandering, then stand up and stretch! The goal isn’t even to get you panting or performing a mini-workout, but rather simply to increasing your blood flow. Small activities like arm circles, leg reaches, body twists, hand raises, all provide excellent bodily responses. If you’re someone who’s comfortable taking business calls while walking around, then do that! Who’s to tell you otherwise if you’re doing your job while not decaying away behind the screen? We all get stuck sometimes, and it’s important to self-realize how long or how often you do so. I personally recommend getting up for even a minute or two every single working hour. Go from the state of inertia to a law of motion. Test it out for yourself with a week trial, and see how your performance enhances merely from the little things.


Atmosphere – How is your work environment?


Every one of us has our own defined version of the ideal work area. Where you do your work can drastically impact your performance on unexpected measures. It’s not about whether you the most grandeur office space, but rather how satisfactory to your eye it is. If you have a desk full of clutter with notes, papers, empty candy bar / energy drink containers, you’re allowing yourself to build up stress and anxiety that you may not take notice of right away. But the more “stuff” that you have laying around and accumulating, the bigger your clutter-anxiety cycle grows. Neuroimaging has even indicated that some people’s brains react subconsciously to mere pictures of clarity and arrangement. Sometimes it can feel almost inescapable, to which we’ve all realized we have to do something about the mess. Decluttering your environment increases your productivity by decreasing opportunities for distraction, as well as enabling you to learn serious organizational skills. Adopting a minimalistic attitude aids in changing the way you perceive messes, and pushes you to continually keep things orderly and in tune with your mental clarity. Take some time to simply throw away unused, finished, old, and/or unnecessary items that you keep laying around because you haven’t felt like going through it yet. There are differences between memories and wastefulness. One mental tidbit to use if deciding on keeping something or not is to ask yourself “[Why] do I need it?” If you can’t answer yourself within 5 seconds, take it away.


Music – What do you listen to?


We all have our favorite songs, albums, and artists. However, many of them do not fit into the concentration narrative. It’s going to be near impossible to try to write up documents while listening to Green Day’s riotous guitars or Drake’s 808s and hi-hats bouncing. Really, in general, it’s truthfully difficult to do an important task while lyrics are being sang to you. We tend to lose track of what we’re doing because the music is overshadowing your thinking, like a tug-of-war on who can grab your attention the most. If you have your own study music already defined, then great! But if you could use something in the background, I always recommend ambient, classical, lo-fi, or downtempo / chill-out music. And yes, ‘chill-out music’ is its own subgenre these days. These sounds include artists such as Aphex Twin, Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, Massive Attack, or Blackmill. I’ve linked a recommended album from each respective artist as well. With that said, peaceful & blissful electronic music can greatly heighten your performance through stimulating your senses as you’re in “the zone.” Ambient music comes in all shapes and forms, from spacey synthesizers to piano-driven melodies that blend well with thinking, and not distracting your mind away to huge pop choruses.