The Industrial Age brought innovations in automation and industry, but it also introduced problems, some of which we still deal with today: pollution, overcrowding and unchecked growth, for example. Similarly, the Information Age has changed how we work and live, and it also caused its fair share of problems, one of the most significant being the problem of being distracted at work.
In the Information Age, we are inundated with varying data streams, making attention a scarce resource, as we can only focus on so much at once. The following are some tips for focus in your daily work.
1. The Attention Economy
As far back as 1997, Wired! Magazine reported a shift toward an attention economy wherein an “increasing number of workers are no longer involved directly in the production, transportation, and distribution of material goods, but instead earn their living managing or dealing with information in some form.” With so much information at our fingertips, it is difficult to avoid getting distracted at work.
One way to do so is to manage your time and space. Jacquelyn Smith, writing for Forbes, suggests reserving regular time intervals for important work. Focusing on a difficult project in the first hour of work can put you in a productive mood for the rest of the day.
2. Shape Your Environment
Another one of her tips for focus involves your environment: control who does and does not have access to your workspace. Granted, not all of us can physically isolate ourselves in an office, but we can use other forms of isolation. For example, wearing headphones is a universal request not to be disturbed. Further, music can be one of the tips for focus, but white noise is also helpful. Various websites such as Simply Noise can help you drown out the office chatter with non-distracting sounds.
3. Simplify Your Technology
Another tip for focus is to avoid excessive technology. Social media, email and newsfeeds compete for our attention while we work, so eliminate the temptation. Browser add-ons such as Chrome’s Stay Focused can limit the time you waste on certain websites and block access to them during work hours.
While being distracted at work is not anything new, technology is increasingly distracting us with newer and more persistent developments. Using that technology to help, rather than hinder, your work is the first among many tips for focus.
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