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That moment during a meeting when you don’t have a clue what the others are talking about?
That moment during a meeting when you don’t have a clue what the others are talking about? Those days when it takes you hours to finish something which usually doesn’t take longer than 30 minutes? All sounds familiar? Mostly it is a sign that you have lost your concentration. Because you have too much on your head, because you are constantly distracted by your environment or because you are tired. With these 10 tips you can improve your concentration even if you are working in difficult circumstances.
1. Take a break
Several scientific studies have proven this: when we work too long without a break, our concentration and productivity decrease. Do you start to feel less attentive? Then take a break. A real break. That means: no surfing on the internet or checking your emails, but get up from behind your desk, get some fresh air or have a chat with a colleague.
2. Get sufficient fresh air
Your brain needs oxygen, more than every other organ. In order to stay concentrated, it even needs 15 percent more than during normal activities. So regularly air the room in which you work and use your breaks to go outside for a short walk.
3. Keep the fuel levels up
Big meals make you tired, but in order to stay concentrated, your brain needs sufficient energy. So regularly have an easily digestible snack - like a piece of fruit or some yoghurt - and drink enough water. A cup of coffee during your break is OK, but don’t exaggerate. Too much caffeine disturbs your sleeping pattern which ultimately has a negative impact on your concentration.
4. Clean your desk
Documents, memos, letters, files in need of classification… a full desk leads to a lack in concentration, even if it is unconscious. Hence keep your desk tidy so you can concentrate 100 percent on your job.
5. One task at the time
So much to do you end up doing nothing? Make a priority list and work systematically. One task at the time. And once you have finished something, take that pen to cross it out.
6. Alternate difficult tasks with easier ones
Some tasks require more concentration than others. Do not delay difficult tasks, but alternate them – as reward – with easier ones. In that way your brain can take a break while your to do list becomes shorter.
7. Set short-term goals
Does your concentration start to slack, but you really have to finish something? Stretch your attention span with short-term goals: fifteen more minutes of work and you can take a break; another five pages of that presentation and you can do something else
8. Close your email program
No one expects you to reply to their emails instantly. Furthermore they are likely to distract you. Limit yourself to checking your emails three times a day: once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once at night.
9. Work an hour without the phone
Are you constantly being disturbed by the phone? Divert calls temporarily to answer phone or a friendly colleague.
10. Start earlier than your colleagues
Drafting an important presentation, a budget which needs checked, sometimes you would like to isolate yourself for half a day to finish these tasks. Is this impossible during your regular hours? Then start your day a little bit early. You will be surprised how much you get done before your colleagues arrive into work.
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