In the emerging world of working from home is “focus” going to be the new IQ?
Working from home, you may have enjoyed escaping the distractions of an open plan workplace. The colleague who won’t stop talking every time you go to make a coffee, or the generally distracting (but welcome) world of office banter. But at home, sat in a (hopefully) quiet corner of your house there is no one to shame you off facebook, nobody to stop you scrolling endlessly on Linkedin (please don’t stop) and no-one to tell you now is not the time to start researching that long dreamed of holiday destination to be booked once the pandemic is over.
Not only are these distractions ever present on our computers but they follow us wherever we go on our mobile phones, even if currently the farthest you might make it away from the “office” is to do some tidying in the loft!
Our ability to avoid these distractions, and to focus more generally, seems to vary enormously from person to person and from day to day. We have all had those amazing days where we feel as if we have achieved 3 days work by midday, and we all know someone who always seems to be working till midnight but never seems to really be getting much more done than the 9-5er.
In a world of ever increasing distractions the output to be achieved from a normal day can be as much impacted by our ability to focus as it can from the energy we have to put into the day in the first place. What’s more, these distractions have become an accepted and normal part of our lives.
There is in fact a lot of research that suggests moving our focus between tasks, whether they are all productive or a mixture of distraction and production, creates a sort of “lag” which reduces overall productivity. This could be as minor a distraction as checking an update on your phone or quickly checking in on the news or a forum you are posting in.
There is further research that suggests this incessant flitting and task juggling creates a background anxiety that can have an impact on your work. On the opposite side there is something immensely satisfying about honing your focus on one point. An example might be when playing sport and focusing purely on your response to what is going on around you - many suggest this sort of pure focus can be almost meditative.
So it makes sense that we should try to improve our focus, right? Well the good news is that it is something that can very much be practiced and improved.
So if you have managed to get to the end of this article without spinning the Youtube wheel, or catching up on today’s Tik-Tok, then that’s a good start. Now go and get practising, and it may just be the key to achieving that promotion you have been looking for (and for those of a particularly rigid grammatical education please read: “for which you have been looking”).