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We all dream of a spacious corner office, but how do you stay on task while you’re hard at work at a cubicle or open-plan layout? Read on for a rundown of the best ways to maintain focus even in a bustling office.

Traveling for the holidays? Read our tips for sorting through a post-vacation email backlog!

Be the Early Bird

Anxiety is a powerful preoccupier – and you can cut down on yours by staying ahead of schedule. For the next week, commit to arriving at work ten minutes early, so that you can be settled and on task by the official start of the work day. You’ll have extra quiet time to prepare for a hectic day, and you’ll feel less flustered overall. If your company allows for flexibility, you may want to consider shifting your schedule to arrive at work earlier. You’ll have a quiet office for an hour or two before the morning rush.

Follow the Cues

Part of developing focus is establishing a stable routine, which you can enhance with simple quotidian rituals to mark the beginning and end of your work day. A morning playlist or scented candle can set the scene for activity. Cement your routine by restricting work to temporal and spatial boundaries. For example, you may have to take work home, but you should avoid taking it to bed if possible, so that you maintain a specific space for resting after a tiring day. Create a designated work area, whether it’s a desk or just the kitchen table, and stick to using it to complete any “homework” from the office. You’ll feel focused when you’re in your dedicated work space, and relaxed when you’re outside of it.

Watch the Java

Many workers rely on caffeine for an energy and concentration boost. Unfortunately, too much can leave you jittery and anxious. Caffeine withdrawal can make you feel sluggish and worn out. To prevent caffeine overkill, consider switching out one or more daily cup for a less potent alternative like decaf, “half-caf,” or tea. Staying hydrated is also an important focus aid, so keep a water bottle nearby at all times.

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Keep It Simple

Making a to-do list is a great way to increase your motivation, but you can sabotage yourself with a list that’s too elaborate or too ambitious. You can solve this problem by sticking to a concise priority roster.  Plan to complete three to five tasks per day, and post them on a to-do list in plain sight. An alternative option is to jot down three tasks, cross them off as you complete them, and then add three more.

Take a Break

This might seem counterintuitive, but if your productivity sinks after several hours of hard work, it might be time to take a breather. If you don’t feel like you can step away for too long, even a few minutes away from your desk can release some tension and help you come back re-focused and re-energized.

Treat Yourself

To maintain a high level of productivity, it’s important to make your staff feel appreciated – and that includes your hardworking brain. Strengthen positive reinforcement loops by scheduling treats for a task well done. For long-term projects and milestones, give yourself something significant, like a contribution towards a trip or a special purchase. For smaller achievements, indulge in a piece of candy. If you’re looking for a diet-friendly rewards system, resurrect a trick from kindergarten and make yourself a gold-star chart to hang on your desk. It may seem corny at first, but visual markers like stickers have been shown to motivate adults, too!

For more productivity help, check out our time-management tips for long- and short-term projects!

Get Moving

The stress-reduction and mood-improving benefits of exercise are well-known, but did you know that exertion can also help with concentration and memory? If you’re feeling distracted, try a walk around the block or even just a quick circuit of your office. If you’re reviewing written material, you might try taking your tablet onto the treadmill!

App Assistance

Most people are familiar with day planners and google calendars, but did you know that there are a variety of apps designed to help you stay on track? Far beyond scheduling and reminders, they allow you to incentivize productivity using almost any format you like. Trello, Basecamp, and Slack are popular collaborative workplace apps designed to facilitate project management. If you’re looking for a solo resource, Habitica allows you to turn daily tasks and routines into a real-life roleplaying game, so that you can earn points for finishing projects on schedule.

No matter what your daily routine is, you can engineer a combination of time-honored rituals and technological innovations to enhance concentration. Test out a few of these suggestions, and see if you can’t build your focus and increase your productivity!

Are you interested in learning more about project management apps and other creative tools for increasing productivity?  At Square 1 Group, we believe that an effective digital marketing plan incorporates multiple levels of strategic innovation. We stay on top of the latest technological developments so that we can provide you with the best solution for your company.  Call us for a consultation today!