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Maintaining focus throughout the workday

6 tips for sustained productivity during the day

Maintaining focus throughout the workday

Co-workers seeking a brief five-minute chat, emails awaiting replies, incessant phone calls, or a boss pushing for tasks to be completed yesterday – these distractions hinder our ability to fully concentrate on current tasks and find our flow in daily work life. Yet this is precisely what would be important, as in flow we complete tasks quickly and efficiently and have fun at the same time. We show you techniques to help you stay productive, even if your motivation is sometimes not so high.

1. Time tracking

Do you have days when you ask yourself in the evening what you have achieved or what you have done throughout the day? If so, a first step towards more focus and efficiency in your day-to-day work could be to record your activities and working hours in detail. This can easily be done with Excel spreadsheets or time tracking apps, but also with project management software such as myPARM ProjectManagement. It is usually sufficient to keep such a time log for a week and then analyze what you spend most of your time on and what the biggest disruptive factors are in your daily routine. You can then either tackle these to prevent them as far as possible in the future or plan them into your daily routine.

2. Plan your working day

Even if it sounds like an additional work step at first, it makes a lot of sense to at least roughly plan your working day. This way, you know exactly which tasks you should work on, can adapt the working day to your preferences, and at the same time make sure you have buffers and break times. It also helps you to avoid multitasking, which is considered to be very efficient but actually means that tasks that are processed at the same time are carried out less efficiently and to a lower quality.
How to plan your working day optimally:

  • Use productive times: Do you know what time of day you are most productive? Then you should use this knowledge. For example, if you are generally less productive after lunch, then you should not schedule any strenuous work at this time. If, on the other hand, your productivity peaks early in the morning or later in the evening, you should consider completing concentration-intensive tasks at these times. This has another advantage: as there are usually fewer people in the office at these times, you will be less distracted.
  • Establish a routine: A daily routine helps your brain to adjust to focused work and maintain concentration. It can also help you to tackle regular tasks automatically instead of putting them off. For example, start your morning by checking your emails, take a short break, and then start with a more strenuous task. Once you have been doing this routine regularly for a while, you will find that you automatically complete your tasks.
  • Schedule breaks: Conscious breaks promote productivity – especially if you don’t use the breaks to complete small tasks, but instead use them to relax, for example by getting up from your desk and walking a few steps. You will then be able to continue working with much more focus. You should therefore plan a break at least every 60 to 80 minutes.
  • Schedule time wasters: Some tasks take a lot of time throughout the day, such as reading and processing emails. This time should be planned into your working day, as it can otherwise lead to delays in other tasks.
    Our suggestion: Allocate specific blocks of time throughout the day to address such tasks. For instance, check your emails once in the morning and once in the afternoon, while keeping your email program closed for the rest of the day. This way you won’t be distracted by incoming messages and you will also be able to process them more quickly. As these tasks do not usually require too much concentration, it is advisable to schedule them at times when experience has shown you to be less productive.
  • Schedule meetings one after the other: If your working day is repeatedly interrupted by meetings, you will hardly be able to focus on big tasks because you will not have enough time in the 30 to 60 minutes between meetings to work productively on them. If possible, you should therefore try to schedule meetings as close together as possible. This will leave you the rest of the day to concentrate on more complex tasks.

3. Set priorities correctly

A long to-do list can quickly seem overwhelming. However, if you take a closer look at it, you usually quickly realize that some tasks should be completed immediately, while others still have time or can perhaps even be delegated. You should therefore set priorities and work through them accordingly to achieve your goals. A few well-known methods can help you with this:

  • Eat-that-frog: This method helps you to recognize the most difficult task and complete it first. This motivates you for the rest of the day and takes the pressure off your mind, as you don’t have to think about the important task all the time.
  • Eisenhower-Matrix: Use the Eisenhower matrix to prioritize your tasks based on simple criteria such as urgency and importance.
  • ABC-Analysis: The ABC analysis also helps you to divide your tasks into very important (A), important (B) and less important (C) based on various criteria.

4. Time management methods

Large tasks that take several days, weeks or even months can quickly become overwhelming. Most time management methods are therefore based on breaking down such tasks into smaller subtasks, which allows you to achieve quick success and be more motivated. However, not every time management method is suitable for everyone. So test out what suits you best. You can find information on the Pomodoro technique, timeboxing or Getting-Things-Done on our blog!

5. Concentration-enhancing workplace

The design of your working environment plays an important role in promoting your concentration. Therefore, make sure that your workspace is always clean and tidy to minimize visual distractions. A tidy workspace makes it easier for you to think and process information. This includes not only your desk but also your computer. Your desktop, folders, and mailbox should therefore be tidy and structured in such a way that you can find everything important quickly instead of having to search for a long time.
However, there are other tips that you can use to improve your focus at work:

  • Eliminate disruptive factors: The most common disruptive factors are interruptions from colleagues, phone calls, emails, chat messages, or social media. If you want to focus on your work, you should therefore close the office door and your email inbox if possible, set the company chat to “do not disturb” and switch your private smartphone to flight mode or at least to silent mode.
  • Reduce noise pollution: Noise or sounds in the workplace can be distracting. It is therefore important to reduce noise pollution. So close the office doors or put on noise-canceling headphones. Is it almost impossible to avoid disturbing noises in your office? Then try listening to music through headphones. Focus music, for example, can help you concentrate, as it does not distract you from your work, but the calming sounds promote concentration and are even said to increase brain performance.
  • Lighting and ventilation: If possible, use natural lighting, as this has been proven to improve productivity and concentration. If this is not possible, you should still make sure you have sufficient lighting, as too little light is not only bad for your eyes, but also makes you tired. The same applies to stale air in the office. Therefore, ventilate regularly to replace the air in the office with fresh, oxygen-rich air and thus improve your concentration.
  • Set do-not-disturb times: Especially when you are in the flow and making really good progress with your work, it is very annoying to be interrupted by colleagues. This leads to us needing 20 minutes or more to concentrate on the task at hand again. It can therefore help to set focus times during which your colleagues know that they should not interrupt you.
    Our tip: enter these times in your calendar so that a meeting is not inadvertently booked. You can also give your colleagues non-verbal signals as to when you want to be approached and when you don’t, for example by closing the office door or putting a red post-it on your screen.
  • Change of location: Are you generally distracted too much in your office? Then it can help to move to a different location for tasks that require a lot of concentration. This could be an empty meeting room, the remote office or the café next door.

6. Everyday-tips

However, a focused working day doesn’t just start when you enter your office. Rather, your private life and a healthy lifestyle also influence how focused you can be at work. A healthy diet, especially during your lunch break, and regular drinking can help you stay focused throughout the day. Relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation help you to clear your head and work stress-free. Sufficient sleep and regular exercise ensure that you are fit for the working day.


It can be a big challenge to stay focused throughout the day. However, with a few tricks, a lot of patience, sufficient practice, and consistency, you can get into the flow more easily. If you want to work even more productively in the future, we recommend that you record your activities and working hours precisely so that you are aware of what you spend most of your time on. You can then plan your working day better.

You can use project management software such as myPARM ProjectManagement for time recording as well as task planning and prioritization. For example, you can plan tasks on the practical Kanban board. This way, you not only have an overview of your projects and the tasks that arise from them but also of your entire working day.

Learn more about the project and portfolio management software myPARM:

Would you like to get to know myPARM in a demo presentation? Then make an appointment with us right away!

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