17 Game-Changing Things You Can Do Today to Stay Focused at Work in the Digital Age

While most of us find it challenging to stay focused at work at one point or another, the Digital Age poses a unique set of distractions that are fundamentally altering the way we think, live, and work. Technology not only changes the way we interact with one another and do business–it is rewiring our neurobiological patterns and the way our minds and bodies function.

From social media and smartphone notifications, to constant advertisements and emails, our digital culture may be altering our lives socially, mentally, emotionally, and physically, but you have the power to take different actions to neutralize these challenges and stay focused at work.

SMART PHONES, OTHER DEVICES, PERSON MULTITASKING AT WORK

Below are 17 different actions that can be done this very day. Most will only take a few minutes, and others will become better and more effective over time with repetition. Some may even benefit your entire office, work culture, and business relationships.

We took the time to provide 17 revolutionary, science-backed different options. It surely can’t hurt for you to try one of them, right?

Not all will be viable for your situation, and some you may already be doing. Just try one today and see how you feel.

17 Game-Changing Actions

Action #1: Green up your office

Have you heard of Biophilic Design yet? It turns out that buying house plants is more than just a Millennial trend.

Biophilia means “love of life” and was popularized by Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson when he noted our innate human desire to affiliate with living things. Biophilic Design brings nature into built environments and incorporates elements such as live plants, water, natural light, organic materials, and even fractal patterns.

According to one study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied, green workspaces contribute to better employee engagement which positively affects their satisfaction in the workplace as well as their concentration and productivity. Even if your office culture hasn’t entirely jumped on the biophilic design wagon, you can make some changes in your immediate work environment to help you stay focused at work.

Try these biophilic design tips to help you stay focused:

  1. Choose plants you like and place at least two of them within view of your workspace.

  2. If possible, place plants in common areas and hallways so people can experience the benefits when they gather or walk past them.

  3. Feng Shui principles suggest using round-leaf plants rather than spikey ones.

  4. Place other natural elements around you such as rocks, wood or raw metal objects that have a natural feel to them.

  5. Consider adding a water feature such as a small fountain to your work area.

  6. Use fractal images or recurring patterns found in nature such as spirals and repeating geometric leaf patterns (or think Jackson Pollock paintings which utilize fractal patterns).

  7. Look at images of nature from a window whenever possible rather than elements of urban environments such as busy streets, concrete and brick.

  8. If you’re unable to have a view of nature from a window, photographs of nature have some benefit as well.

  9. Consider installing a green wall in your office space.

Action #2: Indulge in some nature therapy

As we’ve seen with studies on biophilic design, nature has a major restorative effect on cognition, but you should actually get outside if you want to majorly enhance your focus and concentration. Forest bathing is a thing for a reason.

HAPPY OR RELAXED PERSON IN A FOREST

One study from the University of Michigan tested subjects by giving them a 35-minute task of repeating random numbers back to an experimenter, in reverse order. Half of the group was then sent out for a walk around an arboretum, and the other half walked down a busy city street. Both groups repeated the numbers test on the way back, but those who had walked in nature performed 20% better than the other group.

In another study on focus, researchers intentionally depleted the subjects’ ability to focus. Some people then took a walk in nature, others took a walk through the city, and the rest simply relaxed. When they returned, the nature group scored the best on proofreading task. Other research demonstrates that children with ADHD can concentrate better after only 20 minutes in a park.

According to Florence Williams’ compilation of research in The Nature Fix, the increasing amount of time spent in nature correlates to greater benefits.

For instance, a daily walk among the trees is beneficial, but after a few consecutive days in a natural setting, your brain calms down and you may experience flow states and access to greater mental and emotional resources. With even greater amounts of time in nature such as a week or a month, individuals begin to experience transcendent experiences with drastic changes in perspective, and even an inverse effect on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms.

PERSON DOING SOMETHING ADVENTUROUS LIKE WHITE WATER RAFTING IN A CANYON

Try these goals for yourself if you want to increase your overall mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing:

  1. While at work, take time to go outside and walk around trees, plants, natural water features such as a steam, a river, a lake, a bay or ocean or any other soothing natural environment you have nearby.

  2. Sit in a park or any green space, even if you have to briefly sit on the ground, a rock or the base of a tree.

  3. Look out a window at nature while you are in your office.

  4. Even when you’re not at work, spend time outdoors daily, gazing at the sun in the morning, watching the sunset in the evening, and taking a walk among trees, the coast, or in a park at some point during your day.

  5. Plan one weekend per month where you spend time outdoors camping, hiking, or doing something in a natural setting away from urban environments.

  6. Stretch yourself and plan a longer excursion for a week or longer at some point during the year. You may find you feel so rejuvenated, you’ll want to schedule more of these trips. It can be an organized retreat or a solo adventure.

  7. If you’re truly adventurous, consider spending a few weeks or a month detached from work, urban environments, and technology.

Action #3: Protect your body from your devices

You may be catching onto the the theme of nature in combating some of the distractions of the Digital Age. While countless studies confirm the healing, restorative effects of nature on stress levels and performance in the workplace, another area to consider is the effects of electromagnetic frequency radiation (EMFs) on your nervous system and cognitive performance.

CELLPHONE RADIATION

These frequencies created by cell phone towers, wireless internet and many electronic devices and appliances have been proven in some studies to affect stress levels and our abilities to focus and concentrate.

In a study on cell phone usage among medical students, widespread use of mobile phones resulted in low levels of concentration and attention. In this study, low exposure meant less than 30 minutes per day, and high exposure meant more than 90 minutes per day.

According to another study, EMFs cause “significant disruption in levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine causing adverse effects on mood, memory, learning, and stress.”

It seems a precautionary approach is warranted since detrimental effects aren’t entirely clear. Many experts suggest using some kind of EMF protectors, but this June 2019 study in Science of the Total Environment found that these shield protectors reduce not only detrimental man-made EMFs, but also natural atmospheric EMFs that are actually beneficial to living things.

CELL PHONE ON AIRPLANE MODE

The conclusion, then, is that it is better to avoid detrimental EMFs rather than use metal shielding.

Avoid EMFs with these simple tips:

  1. Put your cell phone on airplane mode when you are not using it.

  2. Do not put your cell phone in your pocket or areas where it touches your body. Carry it in a bag so it’s not touching you.

  3. Use headphones instead of holding your phone to your head when you talk.

  4. Turn off your router in your home at night while you sleep.

Action #4: Do a daily digital detox through Grounding

The best solution to mitigating the effects of EMFs aside from avoidance? Try Earthing or Grounding.

PERSON STANDING BAREFOOT ON THE EARTH

A study in the Journal of Public and Environmental Health investigated the benefits of direct physical contact with the electrons of the surface of the earth and found that the simple practice of Grounding “may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV, hypercoagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease.

The research to date supports the concept that grounding or earthing the human body may be an essential element in the health equation along with sunshine, clean air and water, nutritious food, and physical activity.”

Reducing inflammation can greatly improve your mood, focus, and concentration.

To try Grounding:

  1. Remove your shoes and socks and stand barefoot on the earth for 20 minutes, twice per day. Your feet need to be touching soil, rock or concrete. You are not grounded when you stand on asphalt.

  2. Sit on a rock or against the base of a tree.

  3. Walk barefoot on the beach.

  4. Wade into a natural body of water. The ocean is the best because of its salt and mineral content.

  5. Even if you can’t do 20 minutes twice per day, 10 minutes during your lunch break is better than nothing.

Action #5: Boost your mental super powers

Getting into an alpha brainwave state allows you to access greater resources within you.

PERSON’S HEAD WITH ELECTRICAL FREQUENCY AROUND IT

According to Accelerative Learning experts such as Paul R. Scheele of Learning Strategies Corporation, and Dr. Owen Caskey, being in a relaxed state both physically and mentally enhances learning and acquisition of new materials. The alpha state is also associated with Flow states, which can allow you to access greater creativity in your work, and may help you retain your focus on tasks.

To get into an alpha state for better focus:

  1. Try briefly stretching your body before you sit down to do mental work. Reach up to the ceiling or bend over and reach toward the ground. Do whatever you can do to get any kinks out of your body and get some energy moving in your system. Your stretches do not need to be vigorous.

  2. Try an educational kinesiology cross-crawl pattern. Stand up and lift your right knee up to your waist and touch your outer right knee with your left hand. Then switch sides, touching your outer left knee with your right hand. Continue “marching” in place like this for 30 seconds. This action creates greater connection between the hemispheres of your brain.

  3. Then sit down comfortably in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and your spine straight.

  4. Close your eyes, inhale deeply and as you exhale see the number three in your mind and think “relax” while you begin to feel a wave of relaxation wash over your body starting with your head.

  5. You can even repeat the word “relax” over and over as you focus on draining tension from different parts of your body.

  6. Relax your scalp, your face, your ears, your neck, collarbones, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, back, lower back, abdomen, hips, upper legs, lower legs, and finally your feet.

  7. Inhale deeply and exhale again, this time see the number two in your mind and think “relax” while you begin to bring your mind’s focus into the present moment, releasing any thoughts of the past or future.

  8. Inhale deeply and exhale again. Then picture a relaxing scene you’d love to be in (the beach, a resort, in nature, somewhere beautiful) and hear “relax” in your head.

  9. Slowly open your eyes and bring your attention to whatever task is in front you, noticing how calm and focused you feel in your body and mind.

  10. Repeat this sequence any time you feel you are losing your focus or beginning to feel tension or stress build up inside of you. As you train yourself to deeply relax, you can reach an alpha state more quickly on demand.

Action #6: Be your own self-talk cheerleader

Another accelerative learning technique to improve focus is to be mindful of your self talk. How do you speak to yourself before you complete a task? Do you think “I’ll never get this done. I don’t have enough time. I’m not good enough or smart enough. I’m incapable of achieving this goal”?  The stories we tell ourselves can create internal stress and distraction before we even begin a task.

PERSON TALKING TO SELF POSITIVELY IN THE MIRROR

According to research by University of Illinois and Southern Mississippi University professors, asking yourself a question rather than saying you will do something is more effective in motivating your own behavior.

Other research from Michigan State University found that talking to yourself in the third person when you feel stressed is highly effective in helping you control emotions, which can help your ability to stay focused.

To have more effective self-talk:

  1. Instead of telling yourself “I will finish this project by this afternoon”, ask yourself, “Will I finish this project by this afternoon?”

  2. Then reply “Yes!” By asking yourself a question, you build your own motivation.

  3. Instead of asking “Why am I upset?” or “Why do I feel overwhelmed right now?” Ask yourself “Why does [your name] feel upset? By changing your self-talk to third person, you exhibit a greater element of self control.

  4. This practice is especially effective once you’ve done the relaxation exercise above in tip number 5. When you are in an alpha brainwave state, your subconscious mind is highly suggestible, so any positive words you speak to yourself will be absorbed.

Action #7: Jam out to your favorite tunes

You have probably heard of the Mozart Effect where listening to Mozart’s music may lead to enhanced short-term performance in a number of mental tasks. It seems that many other types of music may be beneficial in helping you stay focused at work as well.

In one study, researchers investigated the effect of music on concentration (namely, a task that requires much attention) by comparing music the listener likes, music the listener was not familiar with, and silence. Listening to music the person likes showed enhanced performance.

PERSON DANCING WITH HEADPHONES

To use music to help you stay focused:

  1. Think of your favorite song or a song that gets you excited or makes you feel good every time you hear it.

  2. If you don’t already have access to this song on your own devices, look it up on YouTube, Pandora, Spotify or any other music streaming site.

  3. Listen to your song–you can even do it multiple times–and notice how it energizes you.

  4. Either continue listening to this song or other music that makes you feel good, but is not too distracting, while you work.

  5. If you find songs with lyrics too disruptive to your focus, try classical, instrumental, or music for concentration on YouTube.

Action #8: Meditation -- slow down to speed up

In the Digital Age we often still believe that we need to be constantly on and working faster and harder to be successful. However, as legendary success teacher Bob Proctor has said, we need to slow down in order to speed up.

If you’re not already meditating, you should be. Thousands of studies have been published on the benefits of meditation on overall health and wellbeing, as well as cognitive performance.

PERSON MEDITATING IN AN OFFICE

While there are many different types of meditation available, mindfulness meditation training especially improves executive attention according to a study in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Even listening to a brief 10-minute mindfulness meditation especially improved attention in novices, which means you don’t have to be a meditation guru in order to reap the benefits.

10-MINUTE TIMER

To use mindfulness meditation to improve your focus:

  1. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit, and if possible, wear comfortable clothing. You can meditate in your office at your desk or in another quiet area where you will not be disrupted. At home, choose a room or part of a room where you will meditate regularly without disruptions.

  2. Keep your back straight with knees slightly bent while sitting on a cushion on the ground or in a chair. Ideally, you want your hips to be higher than your knees so your legs do not fall asleep or become uncomfortable.

  3. Returning to the same physical place to meditate each time may help your body to become used to meditating in a certain environment.

  4. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes so your mind can fully relax without you thinking about how much time has passed.

  5. Close your eyes and allow your eyelids to relax. You can even mentally tell yourself “relax” while focusing on releasing tension in your eyes and eye sockets.

  6. Put a small smile at the corners of your lips and eyes.

  7. Begin to notice your breath moving in and out of your body as you relax.

  8. Allow your breaths to become longer, but do not force them. Let your body naturally relax and keep your focus on breathing in and out.

  9. It is okay for you to become distracted, so do not become upset with yourself when your mind wanders. Just bring your attention back to your breath.

  10. You can also choose to meditate or concentrate on a specific object such as a candle, a symbol, a short word or phrase, or even a box of tissues if that’s all you have in front of you. If you choose to look at an object, make sure you are a comfortable distance away from it so that you are not straining your eyes in any way. Keep a soft focus.

  11. Practice mindfulness throughout your day while performing trivial tasks such as washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, or driving. Stay in the moment while you do these tasks instead of letting your mind run away with other thoughts of the past or future. You can pay attention to your breath or to the simple task you are engaged in.

Action #9: Start the day on your terms

According to Tim Ferriss in The Four Hour Workweek, “if you win the morning, you win the day.”

Your routine habits become mechanical, which means as the habits become firmly wired into the neural circuitry of your brain, it frees up your brainpower to work on other tasks.

GRATITUDE JOURNAL

Many successful individuals start their morning with time for themselves rather than jumping into work or the demands of others.

Try adding these activities first thing in the morning to enhance your focus throughout your day:

  1. Make time and space for a meditation practice.
  2. Take quiet time for gratitude or prayer by listing good-feeling things in your mind or journaling about them. This practice will boost your mood and keep your mind open to new ideas and opportunities.
  3. Practice self-love by noting three things you like, love or admire about yourself both inside and out, and remind yourself that no matter what, you are enough just as you are.
  4. Focus on an intention or goals for the day–not an endless to-do list. Think about what really matters to you today and focus on a few items you can accomplish this very day. You may wish to write these down on a piece of paper and look at it frequently throughout the day to help you stay focused.
  5. Exercise to boost your energy, eat a nutrient-dense meal, or use intermittent fasting (if that is something you are in to) to improve your mindbody’s performance at work. Consider consulting your healthcare provider before making any major changes in your diet or exercise.
  6. Once you feel centered in yourself, then move into your work day.l

Action #10: Get sweaty

A study from the psychology department of Stanford University found that exercise has immediate beneficial effects on affect and cognition in younger and older adults. Exercising resulted in improved concentration, sharper memory, faster learning, prolonged mental stamina, enhanced creativity, and lower stress.

Aside from the immediate benefits of exercise, this study found that exercise changes the structure of the brain at any age. It specifically found that more physically active older adults showed “greater hippocampal, prefrontal cortex, and basal ganglia volume, greater functional brain connectivity, greater white matter integrity, more efficient brain activity, and superior executive and memory function.”

CO-WORKERS EXERCISING TOGETHER

Exercising at any time of day is sure to benefit your ability to improve your focus and concentration, but another study determined that working out during the work day at an onsite exercise facility improved employee mood, and contributed to greater productivity.

To add more exercise into your life so you can stay focused at work:

  1. Find an activity you enjoy: running, dancing, yoga, biking, swimming, rowing or anything else that helps you move, increase your heart rate and work your muscles.

  2. If you have an onsite exercise facility in your workplace, take advantage of it, especially during work hours if you want to reap the immediate benefits in your focus and productivity.

  3. If you don’t like exercising indoors, go for a run, cycle, or partake in some kind of activity outdoors during your work day.

  4. If you can’t exercise during your workday, commit to exercising first thing in the morning before work, or after work if you find you can keep up this commitment without being too tired. Try a fun social activity like tennis after work as you may look forward to it throughout your day.

  5. Find a workout buddy or group, or start one in your office to keep yourself and others accountable.

  6. Try walking meetings rather than sitting.

Action #11: Give yourself more breaks and put down the smartphone

The Industrial Model mindset largely dominates the way we structure our workdays, which is typically still 9am to 5pm. In today’s world, however, our work is often much more intellectually complex rather than physically laborious. Therefore, our minds tire quickly and need frequent breaks.

PERSON LEAVING CELL PHONE ON DESK AND WALKING AWAY

One study of office workers in Korea in Computers and Human Behavior looked at how psychological detachment from a task revitalized one’s energy. The researchers compared two groups: one took a break from their work and used their smartphones, browsing social media or the Internet, and the second group did not engage with their phones, but instead took a walk around the office or chatted with coworkers.

The results indicated that the workers who took a break with their smartphones did not experience a reduction of emotional exhaustion, whereas the conventional breakers did experience a reduction.

Another study at USC and MIT demonstrated that by taking breaks and reducing stress, you actually increase productivity. By examining neural activity during the brain’s default mode (taking a break or letting your mind wander), the brain is still highly active. The researchers concluded that “breaks keep our brains healthy and play a key role in cognitive abilities such as reading comprehension and divergent thinking (the ability to generate and make sense of novel ideas).”

To capitalize on your brain’s default mode to help you stay focused:

  1. When you take breaks, do not take your smartphone with you. Interact with co-workers or friends, or enjoy silent alone time.

  2. Take walks around the office, or better yet, take a walk outside.

  3. While focusing on a task, set a timer so you don’t lose track of how long you’ve been working before taking a break. Try taking a 15 – 17 minute break every 75 – 90 minutes.

  4. You may want to take shorter, more frequent breaks if you find your eyes are tired from computer screens, you’re losing focus, or you’re having trouble making decisions quickly. Be sure to still take time for extended breaks.

  5. Remind yourself that you are actually more productive when you don’t try to push through and work non-stop.

Action #12: Get more shut eye

Lack of sleep is no joke, and at this point it is widely known that getting adequate, quality sleep is one of the most important things you can do to be a healthy, happy, productive individual.

One of the greatest challenges to quality sleep in the Digital Age is the blue light frequencies emitted from smartphones, computers, and other devices.

According to a study in Environmental Health Perspectives, blue light creates feelings of alertness, and has a major effect on circadian rhythms, which regulate your ability to be awake during the day and sleep soundly at night. If you are having trouble sleeping well, or especially falling asleep, your ability to stay focused at work could be massively impaired.

Try these tips to improve your sleep:

  1. Avoid all computer, smartphone and blue light emitting devices two hours before you go to bed.

  2. Put your phone on do not disturb and airplane mode, or better yet place it in a room outside of your bedroom.

  3. Try some gentle stretching or meditation before bed.

  4. Listen to soothing music before you get in bed or while you fall asleep. You can use a sleep timer so the music will shut off on its own.

  5. Once you are in bed preparing to fall asleep, make sure your room is dark and then lead yourself through a progressive bodily relaxation by starting with your head, face, neck, shoulders, chest, back, abdomen, hips, upper legs, lower legs and feet. As you focus on relaxing each area of your body, feel your body get heavy and you can even repeat “relax” or “release” with each body area.

  6. Try Earthing or Grounding (see Action #4 above) at some point in your day to help remove stressors and inflammation from your body and induce more restful sleep.

  7. See Action # 13 below to learn how lighting affects your sleep patterns.

Action #13: Adjust your lighting

In addition to getting adequate sleep to help you stay focused at work, getting enough natural light during the day is closely related.

Researchers in the Sleep Health Journal found that people who were exposed to greater amounts of light between 8 a.m. and noon, fell asleep more quickly at night and had fewer sleep disturbances compared to those exposed to low light in the morning.

PERSON LOOKING INTO THE SUNRISE

Fluorescent and LED lights, which are blue wavelength frequencies, can boost your attention, but they can also become problematic when you’re not getting enough natural light to sync your melatonin production which will later help you go to sleep earlier and more easily.

Try these tips to take advantage of beneficial lighting:

  1. Try skygazing at sunrise. Many ancient wisdom traditions mention the benefits of watching the sunrise, and its effects on your energy throughout the day, even if you have to nap later because you woke up extra early.

  2. Make sure you are exposing yourself to adequate light between 8am and noon.

  3. While it would be most beneficial to eliminate artificial lighting all together, a more reasonable solution is to adopt the use of full spectrum lighting in your office or home.

  4. Use blue light filtering glasses, especially if you spend much of your time working at a computer screen.

Action# 14: Turn up the heat

A study from Cornell University’s Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory linked offices with warmer temperatures to fewer typing errors and higher productivity. Researchers noted that “at 77 degrees Fahrenheit, the workers were keyboarding 100 percent of the time with a 10 percent error rate, but at 68 degrees, their keying rate went down to 54 percent of the time with a 25 percent error rate.”

THERMOSTAT AT 77 DEGREES F

The results suggest that raising the temperature to a more comfortable zone saves employers about $2 per worker, per hour.

Try adjusting your thermostat to stay focused at work:

  1. Take note of what temperature your office thermostat currently is.

  2. If you can’t adjust your office temperature at work, talk to someone who can.

  3. If you really can’t adjust the thermostat, consider a small space heater in your workspace.

  4. Suggest turning up the thermostat by a few degrees and notice if you and your coworkers feel more comfortable.

  5. Try turning up the thermostat to 77 degrees and take note of your ability to focus and be productive. You could even keep a journal of your performance with different temperature readings.

Action #15: Get a whiff of essential oils

While essential oils are widely popular and accessible today, these botanical gifts are used in major research hospitals such as Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic and many more. The direct effects of essential oils on brain function and other body systems are largely confirmed with scientific proof.

PERSON SMELLING ESSENTIAL OIL FROM A BOTTLE

A study in the Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology found that vetiver essential oil “decreased alpha and beta1 activity in both frontal and parietal cortices and increased gamma activity in the frontal cortex” which indicates electrical brain activity and alertness. Moreover, a 2001 study by Dr. Terry Friedman found that inhaling vetiver essential oil improved the performance of children with ADD and ADHD by 100 percent.

Another study demonstrated the effectiveness of rosemary and lavender essential oils in positively affecting mood, electroencephalogram patterns of alertness and math computations.

To use essential oils to improve your focus:

  1. Choose a high quality essential oil. Quality varies drastically in the market, and you want to look for Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils such as doTERRA, where each bottle is rigorously tested by third party laboratories. Otherwise, you could purchase watered down oils that will have little to no effect on your brain function.

  2. Purchase your oils directly from the manufacturer rather than on Amazon or a third party site which could be selling adulterated oils.

  3. Essential oils such as vetiver, rosemary and lavender can be inhaled directly from the bottle, or place a drop in your hand and rub your hands together and inhale the smell from your palms.

  4. You can also use a diffuser to circulate the aroma within an enclosed space. Follow your diffuser’s instructions to know how much oil and water to put in.

  5. If you decide to apply oils topically, check if your oil needs to be diluted with a carrier oil such as high quality coconut, olive, or jojoba oil to avoid any potential skin irritation. Again, purchasing high quality certified oils helps you avoid any harmful contaminants.

  6. You can also apply a drop of oil to the bottoms of your feet to get them into your bloodstream more quickly. Again, check for skin sensitivity.

  7. Some oils work better for some people than others. For instance, if you find that rosemary doesn’t seem effective for helping your stay focused, try vetiver or lavender.

Action #16: Tidy up your desk

Environmental clutter can have a major impact on your attention, focus, stress levels and overall sense of well being.

One study in Environment and Behavior particularly looked at how office clutter in personal workspaces is a major stressor in the workplace, impeding productivity, and especially delaying decision making.

Research from Cornell University even found that clutter can lead to elevated levels of cortisol that can then induce coping and avoidance behaviors such as binging on junk food or Netflix.

Try these tips to declutter your workspace to help you stay focused:

  1. Start your day with an organized desk before you sit down to work. Make sure there are no papers out of place, piles of books or reports, or office supplies strewn about haphazardly.

  2. Keep only what you are currently working on in plain sight. Put other items in drawers, cabinets or boxes to keep away feelings of overwhelm.

  3. Close out any unnecessary programs or tabs on your Internet browser that may contribute to distraction and overwhelm.

  4. Clean up any food trash immediately if you’re snacking while working.

  5. Clean up your desk before you leave for the day.

  6. File papers, mail, or stack any materials in neat piles that you may need the next day.

  7. Clear away any trash or unnecessary materials, and shred sensitive documents.

  8. Empty your trash bin.

Action #17: Go Marie Kondo on your inbox and more

In the Digital Age you not only have to face your physical workspace clutter, but also your digital clutter that can distract and overwhelm you. Taking the time to regularly clean out unnecessary items on your computer, smartphone, and other devices can help you feel more spacious, focused and unburdened.

DELETING EMAILS

Try these tips to digitally declutter and find more focus:

  1. Regularly delete old emails or organize into necessary folders.

  2. Delete old files that you no longer need.

  3. Seriously consider materials you saved and thought you would “get around to” but haven’t found the time to do so. Discard these files.

  4. Delete old text messages and voicemails that you really no longer need.

  5. Delete old contacts from your phone that you know you will no longer need to interact with.

  6. Delete old apps from your phone that you no longer need.

  7. Turn off notifications from apps on your phone that are more distracting than helpful, or adjust the settings so that they are not as disruptive.

  8. Clean up your virtual desktop clutter on your computer. Keep the desktop visually neat and beautiful with an inspiring, relaxing or motivating image.

  9. Empty the trash bin on your computer.

  10. Choose a certain time of day, or day of the week or month to do your digital decluttering.

  11. Each time you consider subscribing to a new email list or downloading a free pdf online, pause and ask yourself, “Will this information truly be useful to me? Will I have the time to consume it, or will it simply add up to more clutter and overwhelm?” If the answer isn’t a definite yet, do not subscribe or download.

CONCLUSION

Whether you decide to make some changes in your environment or your personal behaviors, we know these tips can be game-changing for you. You don’t have to do every item on this list — do whichever ones you’re drawn to. It won’t take you long. Or even try adding one of these tips to your life each week.

A small shift can drastically change your ability to stay focused at work, and even the way you succeed at life.

34 thoughts on “17 Game-Changing Things You Can Do Today to Stay Focused at Work in the Digital Age”

  1. This is a nice combination of actionable items which is focused on an all-round improvement of one’s focus at work. I love the bits on mindfulness, yoga, sleep, music, nature and can vouch for all of these to be relaxing plus energizing at the same time. The very last tip of thinking thrice before signing up for a newsletter only if you will have time to consume it is something I am going to implement right away to declutter my mailbox !! Thanks, Kevin for putting all this together in one article.

    1. Kevin Abdulrahman

      Thank you for taking the time to go through this guide, Vishal. Digital decluttering is certainly an effective start!

  2. I found the cross-crawl pattern to help get the brain in synchronicity particularly intriguing! The practical implementation steps after each point was very helpful too.

    1. Kevin Abdulrahman

      I wanted to make this piece better than a regular list post, thus providing a lot of detail on each point. There’s a lot more value in providing a solid solution (step by step) for every problem.

  3. Loved this, particularly the nature therapy part!

    People are so indulged in their goal to remain super productive, that they don’t make time to get outside! I tend to walk to the Mosque during prayer times, and this just gives me a breather from whatever task I’m doing, so that when I get back, I actually become more efficient!

  4. Thanks for sharing Kevin. This is beautifully written. Alot of good suggestions and recommendations in this article i could look into implementing myself. Kudos to the effort put in to put this article together for all of us here. Keep shining.

    1. Kevin Abdulrahman

      Thanks for taking the time to review this piece Dr. George Chrousos. I appreciate your feedback. I was intrigued to learn from your research that EMF protectors reduce natural atmospheric EMFs that are beneficial to living things!

  5. “Put a small smile at the corners of your lips and eyes.”

    Love that it mentions to smile with the eyes. This is something I keep reminding myself about when I’m meditating. Makes a big difference 🙂

  6. Action #4. Regarding how much time someone should be grounded daily we recommend grounding 30 minutes once a day at the minimum. More is better, of course.
    If people can have their feet on a grounding mat while working at their computer at work or at home they will see a difference (I certainly did). The grounding mat can also be under the keyboard serving as a mouse pad. Touching it with the hands while working will also ground the person.
    Action #12: Grounding any time during the day helps sleep better because it calms down the nervous system and this is specially true in the evening and before going to bed. Better still is to sleep grounded using special grounding sheets.
    People who live in northern countries such as Canada and many European countries experience a weather that is too cold many months a year to get grounded outside. For those people it is possible to get grounded inside using grounding equipment.
    Gaetan Chevalier, Director, Earthing Institute, EarthingInstitute.net.

    1. Kevin Abdulrahman

      Hi Dr. Gaétan – thank you for reviewing this piece and expanding on some of the points. Really interesting points made. Considering the amount of time spent with our electronic device, I think a grounding mat is something I should look into getting.

  7. Love all of the areas of breakdown especially “unplugging” yourself from specific activities and getting out in nature.

  8. Inspirational. Thank you Kevin for continuously highlighting things we take for granted but have massive impact on the quality of our day to day operations

  9. This is an interesting article. Among all the points you raised, the one to strike me as very impactful is “Action #6: Be your own self-talk cheerleader”. Most times people leverage their weakness to not challenge themselves into achieving the best they can. They mostly allow fear and expectations and society’s criticism of failure, to take much of them. So one needs to be his or her own cheerleader especially during moments of failure and moments of risk-taking.

    One aspect that the author may want to look at is if this research was done with the western world and its narratives as a case study. This is because All the points are built on individualism whereas back in home Africa we find most useful and advantageous in collectivism. This is the reason why issues depression and mental health issues are on the low and real happiness (not the world happiness report which measures happiness with GDP). So I would ask that you contextualise this article as most of them I would argue wouldn’t achieve its intended benefit in other areas.

    1. Kevin Abdulrahman

      Thanks Kwame – well said! We have to foster a positive mindset first, being our own cheerleader.

  10. Great article, Kevin! As a productivity guru myself, I appreciate your tips and actions that I can integrate into my own teaching. I find grounding particularly useful.

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