Working Winter DaysIn the run-up to Christmas, and with the dark hours of the Winter Solstice upon us, it’s hard to stay focused.  Between emails, social media and other demands, distraction abounds. How do you start clearing the mental clutter and avoid over-committing?

Switch off, scale back and unsubscribe
As a society we survive on our mobile devices, so it’s hard to switch off. But doing this for just a few hours each day can help relax the mind, clear your thoughts and focus your attention on those work tasks at hand.

It’s perfectly normal as a working professional to subscribe to every business newsletter or updates in your industry. But getting a slow drip-drip-drip of emails each day clogs up your inbox and your mind. It creates a sense of anxiety – when will you have time to read and think about all those emails?!.

Cut your subscriptions right back to the few businesses that will truly add value to your working life.

By the same token, having endless websites open in your browser can actually be more stressful. Are these websites helping you to be productive? If not, keep a limit on the number of websites as this can help focus your attention. Or, move the relevant tabs into a single separate window.

Choose what inspires you
With so much information out there, it’s hard to keep knowledgeable gatekeepers to a minimum. Choose 3-5 experts that truly inspire you with their advice on being successful. .

Have in mind just 1 or 2 realistic goals to achieve each week – goals, not tasks! Tasks are the things you do to achieve a goal, and a goal is a desired achievement from those tasks. Set yourself clear goals with those tasks, and you’ll feel more focused on what you want to achieve.

Staying physically active helps keep your mind sharp, so getting in an exercise session before, after or during work, (if you’re not already biking or running to the office), keeps you in good shape all round.

‘Timebox’ and maximise your hours
Not everyone can achieve a 4-hour work week, so what can you get done in 40 hours?  It’s becoming increasingly outmoded to think that working longer hours makes you more productive. In fact that’s quite the opposite; it can make you more stressed. So be sure to leave on time.

One strategy to maximise your working hours is to cut down your intake of hot air. Meetings can drag on, particularly as they’re all talking and no doing by nature. Try to avoid them if possible, and if so try and get notes or minutes of the meetings that can save you so much time to focus on more important work projects and tasks at hand.

Another strategy is to come in early if you can, before the office comes alive with chatter. Even if you’re not a morning person, you’ll be surprised at how productive you are.

Write quicker emails
Emails don’t have to be long winded. Who has time for that? There’s little time to waste on writing long, descriptive email; this takes time away from more important tasks, (and slows you down from reaching your goals). Limit each email to a maximum of 3 to 4 sentences. Use bullet points and attention-grabbing subject lines that outline what you want the recipient to do.

Find an oasis
Working in a hectic office with too many distractions can make you less productive. Find a quiet spot somewhere in the office that has fewer people and distractions, and escape there when you need to complete work with minimum hassle. You can book out a meeting room too if space and office size allows; even better, try get more time working from home.