Being able to focus on your work is essential. It is necessary to get things done and deliver good quality work. It will also give you a competitive advantage over those that are not able to focus. One way to do this is to start a ritual every time you start to do focused work. In this blog I will give you five rituals that help you focus at work.

Many people I speak to struggle to concentrate at work. Unfortunately our modern offices do not help either. These are often filled with distractions and people that suck up our attention. People that are able to focus in these busy environments have an enormous competitive advantage compared to those that constantly fall prey to the things and co-workers that steal their concentration. So, how can you learn to focus?

One way to get into that state of flow is to start a ritual before you do focused work. That way your brain will get used to the fact that you start to concentrate. And so will the people around you.

In Japan, rituals are very important in both daily life and work. Finding flow in a workplace filled with rituals is easier than in an unstructured chaotic workplace. Rituals provide us with clear rules and objectives that help us focus.

Rituals of successful people

Many successful people in history also have (or had) these rituals. Winston Churchill took a bath each morning and dictated to his secretaries from the tub for an hour. JK Rowling always booked a posh hotel in London for a week when she was on a deadline for one of her Harry Potter books. Japanese writer Haruki Murakami always writes from 04:00 AM to 10:00 AM each day. All have their own rituals to get into that state of focus and flow.

Five rituals that help you focus at work:

1. Block a time

When you start to do focused work every day at a specific time, after a while your brain and the people around you will get used to this. It will become a habit. People will know that you can not be disturbed at these moments. They also know they will not get an answer to their messages at those times

2. Create your place to focus

Find a place that is ideal for doing work that requires your concentration and always sit there each time you start to focus. Choose a distraction-free environment. Mostly a comfortable, quiet place with natural daylight.

3. Clear your desk and your computer

When you start: empty both your physical desk and your virtual desktop. Clear everything off and put it in a (virtual) drawer of folder. When you write, choose a ‘distraction free’ writing tool. Make sure everything you need to do the work is in place. Just don’t forget to get a fresh cup of coffee or tea before you start! That may be the only thing on your desk.

4. Mute your notifications

Before you focus: put your phone on flight mode and turn off your e-mail & messaging programs on your computer. Minimize the chance of getting disturbed by a machine.

5. Let people around you know you are focusing

Spread the word. Tell the people around you that you will need some quiet time to get the work done. Don’t be ashamed to do this. Chances are you will give people an idea to do the exact same thing!

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