How to Keep Task Focused

John Krautzel
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Staying focused on a task can be tough, particularly when you have thoughts and worries competing for your attention. Thankfully, there are effective techniques that you can use to stay focused on a task that needs to be completed on time. Try out these techniques for a few weeks to see whether they improve your concentration.

The first step to solving any problem is to understand it. When you find that your mind has wandered away from the task you are supposed to be working on, try to remember what happened to break your focus. Did a colleague ask you a question? Did an incoming email force you to switch your attention? Or did you simply abandon the task because you weren't sure what step to take next? Recognizing the cause of your tendency to lose focus can help you to decide which focus-improving tips will be most useful for you.

If your colleagues are the main source of distraction for you, you can stay focused by blocking out the distraction using headphones. You can either listen to soft music or use noise-cancelling headphones, whichever best helps you to concentrate. The headphones serve two purposes: they block out distracting background noises and they send a signal to your colleagues that you are trying to stay focused and do not want to be disturbed.

Emails are another source of distraction. How many times have you broken off from a task to deal with an email as soon as it arrives, only to find that it takes you a long time to settle back into the task and remember what you were doing? Avoid this problem by setting aside certain times during the day for dealing with your emails, and the rest of the time turning off email notifications and trusting that everything in your inbox can wait until you have finished the task.

For accountants and other professionals who sometimes work from home, it can be a challenge to stay focused throughout the day. The home environment offers so many tempting distractions, from the refrigerator to the TV or even household chores. Stay focused by setting up a dedicated work area within your home. Clearly designate the hours that you plan to spend working at your desk, as well as the times that you will spend relaxing in other parts of your home. When you take a break, step away from your desk and do something completely different for a few minutes to clear your head. Keeping this distinction between working and nonworking environments is tricky for home workers, but it is vital to protecting your concentration.

By using these techniques, you can stay focused on a task long enough to see it through to completion. Staying focused can also improve the quality of your work by allowing you to give your full attention to the task at hand.


Photo courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at



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