Mastering Concentration: How to Stay Focused at Work
It’s easy to start your work or school day like a champ. At 9am, you're firing off emails, plowing through your to-do list, and fielding calls like a pro.
But then, at some point, you hit a wall and your productivity starts to wane. That laser-like focus you were channeling earlier scatters, and, before you know it, you’re aimlessly clicking through tabs, watching the clock, and struggling to concentrate on tasks yet to be done. All of a sudden you have a lack of motivation that makes it hard to focus on a single task.
If this feels familiar, you're not alone.
We all grapple with waning concentration and productivity slumps, but fret not. There are actionable ways to keep that focus razor-sharp throughout the work day.
The Importance of Proper Sleep
Sleep: it's your unsung hero in the quest for workplace focus.
Your nightly rest is the natural way your body and mind rest and recuperate. And, a lack of sleep will have a noticeable impact on your work performance. As WebMd notes: “Scientists measuring sleepiness have found that sleep deprivation leads to lower alertness and concentration. It’s more difficult to focus and pay attention, so you’re more easily confused. This hampers your ability to perform tasks that require logical reasoning or complex thought.”
Most doctors recommend getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. To be more precise, you should aim for 5 to 6 full 90-minute sleep cycles each night, which includes three stages of non-REM and the final dream-state stage of REM.
In other words, this isn't just about clocking in more hours under the sheets. It’s about quality rest that boosts mental clarity, ramps up your energy, and optimizes your day for productivity.
Wondering how you get better sleep for greater mental focus? Try these tips:
- Ditch the screens before bed – Blue light emitted by smartphones, tablets, and computers is a notorious sleep stealer. The glow messes with your circadian rhythm, making it harder to wind down. Instead, swap screen time for a calming activity like reading a book an hour before bedtime.
- Don’t hit snooze – Simple morning routine ideas can help your focus immensely. When your alarm goes off in the morning, get up and drink water immediately. It may be tempting to squeeze in “ten more minutes” of sleep, but a brief snooze session is too short to finish a complete REM cycle, which can leave you feeling even groggier as you start your day.
- Set a consistent sleep and wake schedule – Your body loves routine. By going to bed and waking up at the same time (even on weekends), you condition yourself by setting your internal clock. You'll find it easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally, feeling fully rested.
- Get daily exercise – Exercise can do wonders for both your physical and mental health. Physical activity is a proven sleep enhancer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, and try to avoid exercising right before bed.
- Invest in a quality mattress – Think of it as an investment in your work productivity and focus. A comfortable, supportive mattress can be the difference between a night of tossing and turning and a rejuvenating sleep experience. Research and invest wisely.
Be Careful with Caffeine
It's no secret that a well-timed cup of coffee or tea can be a productivity booster, enhancing focus and mental clarity for a demanding workday ahead. But don't lean on caffeine to snap you awake first thing in the morning. Doing so may actually be a major reason why you hit the afternoon wall.
According to Stanford neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman, you should wait 90 to 120 minutes after waking up to have your first caffeine intake. This allows your body's natural Cortisol Awakening Response to peak and decline, setting you up for more sustained energy levels.
Drinking caffeine too soon after waking blocks the sleep-promoting neurotransmitter adenosine from clearing out of your system, giving you brief alertness but setting you up for an afternoon crash. Waiting 90 minutes post-wake-up lets cortisol levels normalize and adenosine dissipate, thus maximizing both natural alertness and caffeine's effectiveness.
Take Periodic Breaks
Regular breaks aren't a deviation from productivity. They're part of the formula.
The human brain operates on a productivity curve. For most people, concentrating on a task for longer than 60 to 90 minutes is incredibly difficult. Or, at least, the benefits are marginal the longer you go without a pause.
After enough time has passed, the prefrontal cortex—your brain's command center for decision-making and goal-setting—craves mental breaks just like a car needs fuel. Beyond that 90-minute threshold, you can start to encounter issues like decision fatigue, brain fog, and procrastination.
By working in incremental 90-minute sprints and then giving your brain a momentary pitstop with an intentional 10 to 20-minute break, you can effectively reboot the cycle, which helps with motivation, productivity, and creativity during your work hours.
When you do take a break, don’t slip into the social media rabbit hole; instead, get up, take a walk, and get your blood flowing. This will allow you to return to your desk ready to dive back into work with a clear mind and a sharper focus. You may even feel less tired after work.
Support Your Focus with Natural Kava
If you’re looking for an energy boost and mental clarity enhancement that caffeine affords without the crash and jitters, try kava. What is kava, exactly? It’s a beverage made from the root of the Piper methysticum plant native to the South Pacific.
Kava doesn't function as a direct stimulant like caffeine. Its primary active ingredients (kavalactones) bind to your brain's GABA receptors, or the neurotransmitter gatekeepers that help regulate your mood and stress levels.
This creates a unique blend of relaxation and alertness without the overstimulation commonly associated with caffeine – making it a great alternative for coffee.
Think of the term "flow state," or what athletes and creatives often refer to as being "in the zone." In this state, you're completely absorbed in your activity, fully engaged but not stressed, alert but not jittery. That's the kind of mental and emotional clarity kava can foster.
So, instead of the spiky highs and lows that come with caffeine (the initial rush followed by an inevitable crash), Kava aims for a more balanced, sustainable elevation in mood and cognition. Best of all, kava is a natural product available an array of formats to suit your lifestyle and taste preferences, including:
Let's face it—today's work landscape is a veritable minefield of distractions, punctuated by fleeting moments of concentrated work. This isn't just anecdotal; research paints a surprising picture of how distractions are siphoning off workplace productivity. According to Clockwise:
- The average employee wastes up to 41% of their time at work on low-value tasks.
- 53% of employees waste at least one hour every day dealing with distractions.
- Slack’s average user sends 200 messages every day.
- The average worker spends 1 hour and 5 minutes of their workday reading news sites.
- Social media takes up 44 minutes of the average worker’s day.
That doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for work. So, what can you do to reclaim your productivity and fend off the workplace distractions clamoring for your attention?
- First, audit your day. Take note of what's absorbing your time.
- Next, establish a hierarchy of tasks. Delegate or deprioritize low-value work. Your high-impact tasks should sit squarely in your prime focus hours—those golden minutes when you're naturally at your best.
- Finally, set strict boundaries. This could mean turning off non-essential notifications or establishing "deep work" periods where you're unavailable for trivial matters. You can even use a time management tool to help you achieve focused work. And, that should include muting Slack and putting your phone on “Do Not Disturb."
Keep Your Work Space Neat and Tidy
Your workspace is your productivity arena. Although the clutter accumulating on your desk or in your office may go unnoticed, subconsciously, it can distract, disrupt your focus, and increase stress levels.
So what's the fix?
End your day with a clean sweep: file away those papers, exit those zombie browser tabs, and restore order to your desk. Tidying up sets the stage for tomorrow’s success, ensuring that you’ll walk into a clean workspace each morning, with a sense of purpose and clarity.
Multitasking might seem like the way to get more done, but it's a productivity trap. Our brains just aren't cut out for handling multiple tasks at once. Multitasking often leads to more mistakes and less effective work.
Instead, embrace a single-task mindset. Focus on one job at a time, complete it, and then move on to the next one. Taking this methodical approach ensures that every task receives the attention it describes. Also, each time you check a task off the list, you experience a small sense of accomplishment that can give you momentum to tackle the next one with renewed focus.
Stay Focused at Work with Kava
Even with all the strategies and best practices in the world, maintaining a steady focus at work can still be a challenge. Sometimes, you need a little extra push to cross the finish line.
That's where kava from Botanic Tonics comes in as the natural solution to your concentration conundrum—one that doesn’t carry many of the same drawbacks of caffeine-laden drinks.
At Botanic Tonics, our signature kava drink, feel free, is the ideal productivity and focus enhancer, providing the clean energy boost you need to get through the 9 to 5 without any of the jitters or crashes.
- Web MD. What Lack of Sleep Does to Your Mind. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/emotions-cognitive
- GQ. The Real-Life Diet of Andrew Huberman, Who Switches to Red Party Lights After Dark. https://www.gq.com/story/real-life-diet-andrew-huberman
- CNBC. Working in sprints with regular breaks will totally transform your productivity. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/16/working-in-sprints-with-regular-breaks-will-totally-transform-your-productivity-.html
- Clockwise. What is Focus Time and how does it impact productivity? https://www.getclockwise.com/blog/what-is-focus-time