Focus on work is essential for async knowledge workers

focus on work person writing on a notebook beside teacup and tablet computer

In the hybrid/remote world, we seek to develop working processes based on the Async-first process idea. As collaborators in a team that embraces async-first work, we become responsible for managing our work time during the non-synchronous moments. I discuss this at length in my book “The Suitcase Office.” But managing output (or better: outcome) requires organizing oneself to deliver. Being able to focus on work becomes an essential skill.

Meeting free days are only a first step to giving the power over work organization back to information workers. Here are a few tricks I use to maintain focus at work when working remote:

Divide outcomes into small tasks

Understand what’s expected from you, divide it into workable tasks and plan them; by dividing an objective into smaller tasks, you’ll become clear immediately what the moments are you want to check in with colleagues. Smaller items of, let’s say, 20 minutes are easier to plan from your to-do list in your schedule; I can plan these chunks so that I can keep my focus. When the objective is to write an article, I know up front I will not be able to do that in one sitting. So the structure will be one task, the paragraphs a second one, the conclusion a third one, the introduction the fourth one, the flow-editing the fifth, and so on.  

Agree on do-not-disturb

Agree with the team on the ‘do not disturb’ policy, and keep your schedule updated to achieve this. A plan that shows when we can and cannot be disturbed, combined with good agreements with our teams on how to identify these, are vital in allowing others the same space we expect for ourselves. A team that embraces an async workstyle understands the need for each member to organize their work when and where they feel most productive. 

Set deadlines for yourself

When we want to forecast the moments when we’ll need to check in with our team members, we wish to create a predictable collaboration style., Not only to bring rest in our heads but also to allow team members to plan for the synchronous moments we’ll have with them along the completion of our outcomes.  

Kill the notifications

With the constant onslaught of notifications from our computers and phones and on the computer, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to focus on one task. When trying to concentrate at work, kill all the notifications on your devices so that you’re not interrupted every few minutes. This will help you to stay on task and complete projects more quickly and efficiently.


Focus on work requires to stay awaay from notifications

Close the mailbox 

An HBR article from 2019 shows that executives waste 21 minutes checking email daily. Professionals check their email an average of 15 times daily or every 37 minutes. We know, however, that only about 1 in 10 customers expect a reply in less than an hour.

So, reading and answering emails are time-boxed in my schedule. The people I work with know that email is not a real-time conversation tool. Keeping my mailbox closed allows me to focus on the job at hand. And by carving out a few moments in the day dedicated to email management, the answers I can give are given the thought they need.

Plan for breaks

Whether employed in an office or factory setting, focusing on your work is essential to being productive. However, concentration is not static; it can vary depending on factors like fatigue, distractions, and task difficulty. As a result, it is essential to plan breaks in between tasks. Taking a few minutes to rest and recharge can help you maintain your focus for the rest of the day. In addition, breaks can also provide an opportunity to take care of other vital tasks, like eating lunch or getting some exercise. By planning for breaks, you can ensure that you have the energy and focus necessary to complete your work.

Don’t multitask

Everyone is often trying to do too much at once. We multitask because it will help us get more done in less time. However, research has shown that multitasking can actually have the opposite effect. When we try to do multiple tasks simultaneously, our brains become overloaded, and we cannot give any task our full attention. This can lead to mistakes, subpar work, and increased stress levels. To be productive, it is crucial to focus on one task at a time and give it your full attention. 

Set up or find the suitable space

When it comes to getting our work done, it’s essential to have a comfortable and functional workspace. This is especially true when working remotely, as we can’t rely on office amenities or coworkers to help us stay on track. By setting up a space that supports our tasks and helps us focus, we can boost our productivity and produce our best work. Taking the time to create a supportive workspace will pay off. Blocking noise by choice of location or by using noise-canceling headphones helps a great deal. 

Bye-bye telephone, for now

One of the most important things to do when trying to be productive is to eliminate distractions. One of the most significant sources of distraction is the telephone. Although it can be tempting to keep the phone close at hand in case of an emergency, it is often better to set it to silent and move it away from the workspace. 

How do you maintain your focus at work?

  • Divide the outcome into smaller tasks
  • Agree with your team on not being disturbed
  • Seat personal deadlines and targets
  • Kill all notifications
  • Plan the moments you deal with your mails
  • Plan personal breaks
  • Stop multitasking
  • Work in the right space
  • Put the phone away

Why do I struggle to focus at work?

focus is important at work because it shows that you are interested in your job and are willing to put in the effort to pay attention to detail. Struggling to focus can be caused by a variety of things, such as not being interested in the task at hand, being easily distracted, or feeling overwhelmed. Finding ways to focus at work is essential, such as taking breaks, setting limits on distractions, and breaking down tasks into smaller steps. Finding ways to focus can increase your efficiency and performance at work.

How can I stay focused for working 8 hours?

You can’t. Hence the importance of organizing work processes in synchronous and asynchronous elements. Next: allow all workers to organize the async moments in a way that best fits their life and their work style.

This post is also available in: Dutch French

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *