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We’ve all enjoyed those times when we are ‘in the zone’, focussed on our work, everything flows effortlessly and we are satisfyingly productive. But equally we all have those times when we cannot seem to maintain concentration, are unproductive and getting back down to work seems a real chore.
So what makes the difference? Well we can encounter as many as 10 different killers of concentration on a daily basis. Most of them are internal issues within ourselves such as fatigue, but others are external and probably the easiest to sort out.
External concentration wreckers relate to the people around us and our environment, and a lot of them lead to the biggest one of the lot -
We all do it – juggling a variety of tasks simultaneously, or hopping from one to another and back again. Modern life seems to demand that we deal with more than one thing at any given moment. But the lack of attention given to any particular task can lead to mistakes and accidents.
And despite what we think, research has shown that it can take longer to complete tasks in this way, than if they are tackled one at a time. But psychologist Lucy Jo Palladino PhD, says that sometimes multi –tasking can actually aid concentration - by stopping us being under-stimulated. She says that attention is poor when we either both under- or over-stimulated and that it’s all linked with the secretion of adrenaline. When we are over-stimulated we need to deal with one thing at a time and slow down.
2. Environment issues
This includes work colleagues or employees interrupting, either socially or with work issues and questions, as well as noisy, uncomfortable surroundings. Try to let others know when you are busy and do not want to be disturbed, either verbally or with a sign on your door. But do indicate when you will be free again, so that you do not appear ‘untouchable’. Try and find a quiet, comfortable spot when concentration is required.
3. Invasive social life
Checking e-mails and voicemails from family and friends, responding to instant messaging or checking social media sites for updates can take up a lot of your day as well as distracting you from your priorities. Don’t abandon social contacts but do ‘ration’ yourself – Lucy Jo Palladino recommends restricting indulgence to breaks during the day.