How to Increase Your Focus at Work

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Whether you work at home or in a large office full of coworkers, it can be a challenge to stay on task throughout the day. Life is just full of distractions.

Unfortunately, being sidetracked and unproductive are bad traits to have in the workplace. Not only does it make you feel like you’ve wasted hours of your day getting very little done, but it can also hurt your chances for a raise or promotion since managers often keep track of which employees work diligently.

While each person’s situation is unique, here are some basic ways to increase your focus while on the job.

Set Manageable Goals

When faced with a major goal, project, or challenge, many people find themselves avoiding the task or procrastinating getting started. This lack of focus can become crippling at the start of your workday, since it puts everything else behind schedule.

To avoid shying away from your work or getting discouraged, break down your goal or project into manageable pieces. It is often easier to focus on one step at a time, and completing smaller tasks often help propel you forward.

Minimize Distractions

Whether its office gossip, social media, or a squeaky office chair, the fewer distractions you have to deal with, the better your focus. Not every distraction can be fully eliminated; however, there are often many ways to minimize their influence.

For example, if you can’t stay off social media entirely, set a timer when using Facebook while at work. If your cell is constantly beeping, silence it or set it to airplane mode. Invest in a new desk chair if yours is old and uncomfortable to sit in.

Get Into a Good Daily Routine

While bouncing from one thing to another might seem effective, most people actually perform better when they work according to a daily routine. This is because the human mind is a creature of habit. In general, your mind is better at focusing when you’ve established that you need to be writing, programming, or doing a certain job every day at a certain time.

Ideally, start off your day by planning out the top two or three things you want to accomplish. Tackle your most difficult challenge first so your mind can get into the habit of focusing for the tasks that are most important.

Prime Yourself to Work

Personal, physical, and situational distractions often rank high on the list for hindering people’s ability to focus on their work. Thus, it is important to recognize what aspects of your work environment are daily issues and need to be prepared for.

For example, orientate your schedule around your most naturally productive time of day as much as possible. If your office is noisy, then prime your focus by using noise cancelling headphones or listening to music. Minimize aches and pains by investing in a more comfortable and ergonomic office set up. Dress for success by wearing clothing suited to the temperature of your office or by always having a jacket on hand if it gets cold.

Three Ways to Be More Productive at the Office

productivity priority writing work-336370_640For any desk worker that spends most of their 9 to 5 in an office, being productive is a big deal. After all, not only is it discouraging to still have piles of work left to do at the end of the day, but many managers prioritize employees that show high productivity.

Especially on a day to day level, there are many time wasting habits that most office workers get caught up into. Whether you want to get more out of the hours you put in or are just looking to boost your daily routine, here are three key ways to be more productive at the office.

Set Priorities Everyday

When most people are faced with a long list of to-dos, it often leads to procrastination, stress, and a tendency to go for the small easy tasks first. Unfortunately, any of these conditions deals a major blow to the work that can be done over the course of a day.

To improve productivity, make sure to set priorities. In general, it is advised to choose the top 3 most important things you want to get done that day. Not only does this naturally create a daily plan of action, but polishing your prioritization skills also allows you to better address long term goals. Lastly, when prioritizing, it is best to tackle the most challenging tasks at the start of your workday since that is when you are fresh and have the highest energy levels and drive.

Know Yourself

While most of us like to believe we can multitask, the fact is that the majority of office workers are more productive if they focus and methodically tackle a single assignment at a time.  Likewise, understanding your personal work rhythms is important. For example, if you know that your energy and motivation tanks at 2pm every day, then you can schedule your work around that time rather than trying to trudge through fruitlessly.

Once you’re more aware of your personal limitations, get into an optimized routine for your workday. Not only will this help keep you on track, but most people find they are more efficient at taking care of daily tasks when it follows a usual schedule.

Reduce Interruptions

Unless you’re working in a customized private office setting, personal shortcomings are not the only problem to deal with. From co-worker drama to dealing with a squeaky office chair, there are many interruptions that crop up over the course of your typical workday.

As much as possible, minimize the number of things that take your attention away from your work. For example, if you know a short chat with a co-worker often turns into a lengthy negotiation session, be kind yet firm about when you are working and reschedule for a better time. Similarly, if long stretches at your desk is causing discomfort and becoming a distraction, optimizing your office setup can be quite valuable.

Finally, even work tasks can become productivity sapping interruptions if you let them. The biggest culprits include lengthy, unorganized meetings and constant email checking.

Tips for Adjusting Your Office Chair

office chair adjustment to desk height-462788_640For office workers, aches and pains are often part of the daily grind. Unfortunately, too many decide to just suffer rather than trying to minimize the problem.

While not every workplace discomfort is directly related to ergonomics, how you choose to set up your desk, computer station, and office chair can make a big difference. In addition, small things like whether you sit with good posture can really add up over those long work shifts.

Since your seat tends to be more easily adjusted than your desk, here are some helpful tips for ensuring your office chair is as comfortable as possible.

A Rundown of Ergonomic Features

Depending on the type of chair you have, the features you can adjust will vary. In general, your standard desk chair will be able to swivel and have some sort of height adjustment mechanism (usually pneumatic).

Whether you want to adjust your existing chair or are looking to purchase a new one, the following items are good to keep in mind since they are some of the most common.

Pneumatic Seat Height Adjustment– Allows you to change seat height. Some ergonomic chairs have a larger range of adjustment and can better accommodate sitters who are much taller or shorter than average.

Seat Pan Slider/Seat Depth and Width– Allows you to change seat depth, width, or how forward or backward the seat is positioned.

Lumbar/Back Support– Often a type of cushioning that is built-in or detachable.

Locking Tilt Control– Allows you to lock your chair into a tilted or semi-reclined position.

Adjustable Tilt Tension– Allows you to adjust the tightness or looseness of your chair tilt.

Syncro Tilt Mechanism– Chair mechanism that synchronizes your recline with the angle of your seat. Usually balanced at a ratio of 1 degree of seat lift to every 2 degrees of back recline. Useful for individuals who experience poor blood circulation to their legs/feet.

Adjustable Armrests– Allows you to customize height and/or width. The easy way to fix having your elbows too far apart or having to scrunch your shoulders to use the armrests.

How to Adjust Common Problem Areas

Chair is Too Tall or Short– Use the seat height adjustment mechanism. Controls are typically a button, lever, or turning bolt often located underneath the seat. Short individuals can also use a footrest, while taller individuals may need to consider a heavy duty chair.

Seat Feels Unsupportive or Cuts into Back of Knees– Adjust using the seat slider or look for a chair that has greater depth and width. Edge of seat should rest about 2 inches away from the back of your knees and feel like it is solidly supporting you.

Back Pain or Slouching– Make sure cushioning is at the center of your back (where the spine curves inwards). This provides support and discourages bad sitting posture.

Chair Does Not Tilt in a Controlled Manner– Refine tilt control and tension settings. Often a chair will not tilt or tilt too fast because one (or both) of these tilt-related features is not set up properly.

Four More Common Office Chair Problems

yhst-10258600314819_2268_180780659While having an ergonomic office chair helps many desk workers with mitigating those workday aches and pains, even the best equipment can have problems. As a result, a malfunctioning office chair is not only a big distraction to the sitter, but can also lead to major discomfort or accidental injury while at work.

Fortunately, office chairs are fairly easy to fix if you can identify the problem. A continuation from our first post addressing chairs that are the wrong height, fall apart when lifted, or slowly sink down when sat in, here are four more typical office chair problems and how to address them.


Of all the common office chair issues, a squeaky seat is one of the most irritating. After all, even the best worker will experience reduced productivity when distracted by noise.

In general, your standard office chair will squeak as a result of two or more pieces rubbing against each other. Key areas to check include the metal fixings and attachments where the seat and back of the chair are connected.  Depending on what pieces are squeaking, either tighten the loose parts or lubricate the moving parts with an oil spray like WD40.

Seat Tilts Forward/Sideways

Needless to say, an office chair should not be acting like a rocking chair. Whether your chair is in the habit of tilting to the front or from side to side, an unstable seat can be very uncomfortable and frustrating.

Most of the time, an office chair with this problem has a broken, loose, or worn down pivot pin or central column. Unfortunately, unless it only needs tightening, this issue can really only be fixed by replacing the malfunctioning pieces.

Too Much/Too Little Recline

Often related to how the levers are set up or the sitter exceeding max weight capacity, office chairs don’t always recline the way they should. Since sitting in a chair that is too stiff or not supportive enough can cause back issues, addressing recline problems is a good idea.

If your chair does not recline at all (and it used to be able to), chances are it has accidentally been set to a locked position. In this situation, it just needs to be released and adjusted via the control levers. On the other hand, if the back of your office chair completely falls back every time you lean on it, then it could either be locked into a recline position or have a broken (or loose) tension control.

Especially if you are a tall or big boned person, make sure the tension control is tightened and strong enough to handle your weight when reclining.

Uncooperative Casters

While most workers love rolling chairs, having problems with the casters (or wheels) is widespread. Common issues include casters that are sticky, difficult to move, or that habitually veer to the left or right.

There are numerous potential causes for why these caster problems happen. The most typical include rolling your chair on surfaces it’s not made for, using the wrong type or size of casters, worn down casters, or dirt and other grime clogging up the casters.

Three Common Office Chair Problems

Desk_chairEspecially if you are an office worker and need to be as productive as possible during those long sitting shifts, having problems with your office chair is a major distraction. Chairs are meant to help, not hinder the very work we need them for. For some, much of the problem lies with not having an ergonomically sound office chair, but here are some common and easily addressed problems that employees often face with their office chairs.

Seat is Too High or Too Low

Most office chairs are made with the height of the “average” person in mind, which is roughly between 5 feet 6 inches and 6 feet tall. If you fall into this category, then your chair seat is probably about where you need it. However, this average manufacturing height can be a problem for those of us who are taller or shorter than average. Shorter workers have difficulty resting their feet flat on the floor, leading to pain in their legs and thighs. Taller workers have their feet on the floor, but their knees are bent into an upwards angle that quickly becomes uncomfortable.

Easy fixes for seat height problems is to get a more height suited chair, replace the gas lift with one that can go lower or higher as needed, or for shorter individuals to use a suitable foot rest with their office chair.

Falls Apart When You Lift It

Have you ever lifted up a chair only to have its base completely fall off or the top half come detached? Don’t worry; in most situations it’s fairly simple to remedy this problem. Usually this happens in newer chairs because the gas lift post is too loose and comes off as a result of not yet being firmly slotted into the bottom of the chair or base of the legs.

To fix, clean off the oil or grease present on the end of the post before putting the chair back together. With a firm grip on the chair, apply pressure downwards by sitting down hard a few times or using a knee to push down on the chair seat. Once the correct amount of pressure has been applied and they are wedged into place, the post and the base should engage into an interlocked fit and not fall apart any more.

Keeps Slowly Sinking When You Sit

This is an office chair problem nearly all of us has experienced at least once before, and is probably one of the most bothersome. Most of the time, your office chair will slowly sink due to a problem with the pneumatic lift or gas cylinder. To remedy an old, defective, or otherwise faulty gas lift, ordering a replacement is all it takes to restore your beloved office chair to working order.

If you’re sure it’s not due to age or a mechanical defect, then there are two other points to check. It might be sinking due to the weight of the sitter exceeding the recommended weight for that chair or because of a misaligned or damaged height adjustment lever.