The Secret to Staying Focused at Work

...isn't what you think.

As your workday gets longer and longer and we're on 24/7, it becomes difficult to stay focused. We're constantly drawn away by email pinging, slack notifications, instant messenger, or colleagues knocking on our doors. How do you shut all that out and get stuff done?

The secret: take breaks. 

It seems counterintuitive. Putting your head down and typing away until your fingers bleed means you're producing more, right? Eating at your desk means you're working really hard, right?

Wrong.

Our bodies aren't made to stare at screens all day. Research shows that most people spend their 8-hour days getting nothing done. Game-changing books like The Four Hour Work Week show that our model of work is not only outdated, it's not successful. We're operating on an assumption as old as the Industrial Revolution, and it's not sustainable.

And yet our gut reaction when thinking about something like a 4 hour work week is "Well, that would be nice, but..." We can't shake the social contract we've signed ourselves up for generations ago. We're too afraid of what "everyone else" thinks to throw ourselves into a better solution.

Ok, let's leave the radical changes behind for a minute. Maybe you're not comfortable with radically shortening your workday, but you can do a few things to boost your productivity. Taking short breaks keeps us on track and ensures that we stay healthy (and happy) at work. 

Worried about your boss breathing down your neck? This NYT article outlines the science behind taking a break. Leave it on their desk.

Source: HealthDecide

Source: HealthDecide

Still don't feel comfortable taking a break? Try these 51 things to stay productive while taking a break from The Muse.

So. Take a break, even if it's for a few minutes. Eat your lunch in the cafeteria, not at your desk, Your health and happiness will thank you.