With the year drawing to a close, it’s all too easy to let concentration at work slide. Whilst this seems like the easy option, it can lead to missed deadlines, unfinished projects and ultimately, more stress. Linda Bridge, career coach and founder of Accelerista Coaching, explains how you can break the cycle, work smarter and boost your productivity.
As the busiest time in the retail calendar approaches, it’s never been more important to remain focused, keep stress levels in check and be productive with our working day.
However, when we’re up against it many of us tend to up the hours, shift deadlines and attempt to juggle multiple tasks in the hope that we can deliver the results we need. Yet we end up reaching the end of the day feeling frustrated (and exhausted) that we didn't nail our goals.
Boost your energy
• Fuel up with a healthy breakfast full of low GI choices which will keep you going until lunch. Don’t underestimate the power of starting the day on the right foot — it can have a huge impact on your concentration, mood and overall energy levels. Don’t forget to stay hydrated.
• Prioritise sleep. Research shows that adults who consistently get between 7.5 and 9 hours sleep every night are 20% more productive. Take control and get to bed earlier. If you do it consistently, you’ll wake up feeling more refreshed and be more prepared to tackle the day ahead.
• Get fit. When you exercise, you’re increasing blood flow to the brain, which can help sharpen your awareness. It also feeds your energy levels and makes you more alert. Find something you enjoy and schedule it in, even if it’s just about going for a walk around the block at lunchtime.
• Don’t skip breaks. We’ve all done it. When there are not enough hours in the day, it’s easy to just keep working. Value your breaks. Get some fresh air, have a walk around and switch off. You’ll reap the benefits mentally and physically.
• Always start your day with a plan and know what you need to achieve. Write it down — it makes your goals real and helps you to get your mind in the right place. Ensure your to-do list is prioritised and in line with when you’re at your best. If you’re more creative in the morning, ensure you plan in line with this. Set yourself realistic deadlines and tick them off as you go.
• Tidy up. Mess slows you down. Ensure you have clear go-to places so you can get your hand on things quickly, spending your time on the projects that matter.
• Stop trying to multi task. Concentrate on one thing at a time and nail it. Trying to focus on too many things at once can dilute your concentration and can lead to information overload. Know your goal, land it, celebrate and then move on to the next.
• Control your distractions. Note the things that block your progress throughout your day, then write a list of things you need to control better or stop doing altogether. Whether it’s about scheduling dedicated time for emails, using your voicemail more effectively or being more confident in saying no to unnecessary meetings — take control. Urgent doesn’t always mean important.
Set yourself up for success
• Practice makes perfect. It’s easy to struggle with maintaining your concentration. Train your brain. Start with focusing for a short period of time, have a break and then get back to it, increasing gradually. You’ll find your concentration levels will improve. Trying too hard often results in setting yourself up to fail.
• Feed your confidence. Everyone loves those tasks you know you can get through quickly and complete. Block some time to sail through these and enjoy being busy. You can then focus on the more challenging tasks which require your undivided attention.
• Continuously improve. Sometimes we just do things because that is the way they have always been done. Always question why. There are some good continuous improvement processes such as Kaizen (Google it) to review the processes you use every day and identify ways to eliminate waste and deliver more with minimum effort.
• Think positively and imagine the end result. Be confident in what you have to achieve and really visualise how it will look and feel when you achieve it. Believe in your own ability to achieve a goal — it can be a game changer to the end result.
Visit www.acceleristacoaching.co.uk to find out more and enquire about career coaching.