Staying focused at work

Over the years I have worked at many client sites and a variety of office layouts. On one project in particular, we had as many as 80 people in a project team, seated via an open plan arrangement. It was pretty difficult trying to stay focused in an environment like this. These days, the projects I’m on are typically smaller, but there are still a number of distractions which frequently interrupt my working groove. So what are some of the things we can do to minimise such interruptions and distractions?

Here’s my list of 18 ways to stay focused at work:

  1. Write out a daily task list and plan your day. There’s nothing like a task list sitting next to you to keep you focused. When you have a list of the things you need to accomplish in a day, having that close to you constantly reminding you of what needs to be done is a great way of keeping on track.
  2. Allocate time slots colleagues can interrupt you. In a busy work place, people are moving and talking all the time. If you play a role in a team where others need to interact with you, try allocating a time slot they can interrupt you. Instead of having people stop by your desk every 10 mins and asking you questions, let them know of a time in the day, say between 2-4pm you can be interrupted. At all other times, you can really get some work done.
  3. Apply time boxing. In a previous article, I wrote about the benefits of time boxing. Instead of working at something till it is done, try working on it for a limited period, say 30 mins. By that time, the task is either completed or you allocate another time slot, perhaps in another day, to pick it up again. This way, you keep your work fresh and engaging throughout the entire working day.
  4. Setup filters in your email. If you spend a lot of your time communicating and planning in front of your computer, chances are you deal with emails on a frequent basis. Setting up filters in your email client can be a great way of sorting out what’s important and urgent from personal stuff which can wait. Instead of dealing with a single Inbox with hundreds of unread email, you only need to deal with smaller folders categorised by project, priority and context.
  5. Do not check personal email in the morning. Checking personal emails can be very distracting even with filters setup. This is especially true when your friends send you links to interesting articles, jokes or videos on YouTube. If you’re not careful, you can get side tracked for hours. Instead of checking your personal email as soon as you get in, try starting work straight away. This will build up some momentum as you ease into your work day. You should check your personal email only after you have a few tasks completed or underway. Also, if you don’t want to perpetuate a particular distracting email thread, just don’t reply to it until after work.
  6. Set your IM status. If you use Instant Messenger, when you don’t want to be disturbed, make use of the status and set yourself as being away or busy. Your friends and colleagues will honour that. They can either send you an email or look you up later when you aren’t as busy.
  7. Listen to the right types of music. Music is a great way of settling into the working routine. In addition, having music can drown out office noises like printers and background chattering. Be careful though, depending on personal preference, some types of music are not particularly conducive to productive work. For me, I can’t work when listening to songs with lots of lyrics because the words interrupt my thinking process.
  8. Use the headphones but leave the music off. Some people prefer to have absolute silence when working. I think that also depends on what kind of work you are doing. If you’re doing some serious planning or something computational, having music blasting in your ears may not be the best thing for keeping focused. Try using headphones or ear plugs to block out the background noise but leave the music off.
  9. Fill up a water bottle. Keeping yourself hydrated is pretty important for all sorts of health reasons. Instead of going to the water cooler with your glass every hour, try filling up a water bottle at the start of the day. This does a couple of things – firstly, it limits the starts/stops associated every time you get up for water and secondly, it avoids being sucked into lengthy discussions around the water cooler.
  10. Find the best time to do repetitive and boring tasks. No matter how much you try to avoid it, you’re going to have to face doing things which are either repetitive or boring. For these tasks, I find it is best to choose a time in the day to work on them. For example, I’m more alert at the start of the day, so it’s better to work on things which require brain power early. Working on boring tasks that can be done via auto-pilot are better left towards the end of the day when I’m usually tired.
  11. Bring your lunch and have it at your desk. I’m not suggesting you do this every day, but if you really have to focus and are trying to meet a deadline, having your lunch at your desk really helps. The normal one hour lunch break can really interrupt any momentum you might have built up during the morning. I find when I’m eating lunch at my desk, my lunch breaks are shorter and I can get through a few emails while I’m eating. After I’m done, I’m straight back working on the next task.
  12. Don’t make long personal calls. Most of us have a good separation between our working and personal lives (or a least try to). I think we can all agree we should avoid having work intrude on our personal time as much as possible. The reverse of this also applies. Try limiting the time you spend doing personal things during work as they can be distracting and draining on your motivation. For example, you do not really want to be thinking about your weekend away with your spouse when you really need to get things done.
  13. Clean up your desk. Some of you may have desks which can only be described as ordered chaos. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as you can find what you need without too much digging around. However, if you can’t, I suggest cleaning up your desk. That doesn’t mean having an empty desk, it just means having neat stacks of paper, all filed in the correct location. It also helps tremendously having all the things you need easily within arms reach. For example, if you need a place to write, having your pen and notepad close by and easily accessible is incredibly useful.
  14. Get a good chair. If you sit for long hours at your desk and I’m sure some of you do, you might find it helpful to get a good chair. I find it’s pretty hard to stay focused when my neck and back are sore because I have a bad setup at my desk. A good chair can eliminate this, allowing you to work for long stretches without breaks and physical distractions.
  15. Use shortcuts on your computer. If you find you do the same thing with your computer more than once throughout the day, you might find it helpful to look for ways in which you can do them without too much manual repetition. For example, if there’s a project folder you access all the time, try adding a shortcut to your Explorer or Finder so you can get access to it with a single click, instead of expanding folder after folder in the tree panel.
  16. Close programs you’re not using. As a software engineer, I use a lot of programs important to my work. However, in most cases, I only need a few applications open at the same time. Instead of Alt-Tabbing constantly and fighting the computer to locate the program you need, try only having the applications you need open. Close everything else. For example, if you have already located a file and no longer need a particular Explorer or Finder instance open, close it. There’s no reason to leave it around at all.
  17. Limit time on Digg, Delicious, news sites and blogs. I don’t think I need to say too much about this. There are so many sites on the Internet worth looking at, including this site ;) . Digg, Delicious, news and blogs are great from an interest perspective, but they can really take you away from the work you should be working on. Try to limit going to these sites during the working day. If you really have to, try doing it during your lunch time. No, you don’t need to have your finger on the pulse every single minute of the day…
  18. Change your mindset and make work fun. For me, I find it difficult to stay focused on doing things I’m not by nature interested in doing. In most cases, there’s probably nothing I can do about it. However, be mindful of the fact that your perception of work is something you can control. For my last tip here, I suggest you try changing your mindset or turning work into a game. An unfocused mind, is an unchallenged mind. So make things fun!

I hope these tips will take you closer to more focused and productive work days. If you are still in need for more tips about staying focused, you can take a look at a previous blockbuster smash hit article I wrote entitled 11 ways of staying focused. In that article, I approached the issue from a top down, rather than bottom up perspective.

Ok, good luck! If you like this article, tell your friends, Digg it or add it to your Delicious bookmarks.

Hey, what are you still doing here? Get back to work!

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169 Responses to “18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work”

  1. Dan says:

    Nice stuff Dave.

    My personal favorite is the ‘close programs your not using’. this has worked for me over the years and i do this often but have come unstuck since moving into the ‘tab’ world of firefox.

    Sure, i can close all non browsing programs but i seem to add a dozen extra tabs an hour without even trying. I probably have to take more notice of point 17….. thanks.

    Dan

  2. Jeremy says:

    Dan: store “webpages yet to read” in your task management application, not in Firefox tabs. This way, they stay hidden until a “review webpages” task comes up.

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  7. fawkesey says:

    I was just surfing through from reddit, & thought dude, you probably need to chill out a bit! If you’re that busy, then fob it off to, or employ, someone else, or de-prioritise it, & remember, the work will always be there tomorrow.
    If you don’t write that fabulous blog entry today then get round to it sometime, we’ll maybe read it then. Don’t give yourself an ulcer, I bet your family & friends would like to see, or hear from, you…

  8. Mike says:

    If possible, unplugging the ol’ ethernet cable is a surefire way to avoid most digital distractions. Try to get a local copy of any documentation you need and then work off the grid for awhile.

  9. Yeah, that’s it… - A Frog in the Valley - Technology Intelligence says:

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  10. ozgur alaz says:

    i submit it to digg
    Please add your digg to make the story front page story
    http://digg.com/health/18_Ways_to_Stay_Focused_at_Work

  11. Ian says:

    Enjoyed the article Dave. Lots of good advice. I know one thing that helps me is to keep track the different “keep me sane” work tasks on Joe’s Goals. I track things such as cleaning the desk, getting water, and getting to work on time. It also helps to create a task lists, often times I do this in word and make the “most get dones” a bigger font while the less important tasks are still on the lists. It helps me focus my attention.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

  12. Brian Kim says:

    The daily task list is #1 for me. I can’t tell you how useful that is. The key is to break it down into very specific tasks where you know EXACTLY what you want to do. I find that if I do that, I get more done in a day than in a week. Clarity is very powerful.

    I find it’s also nice to reward yourself once in a while after completing a series of tasks.

    Good post. You’ve put a lot of thought into this. Thanks.

  13. Jayonline Web Development Blog » Blog Archive » 18 ways to stay focused at work says:

    [...] A great article over at davecheong’s website [...]

  14. Titusville Toastmasters Podcast » Blog Archive » 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work says:

    [...] Dave Cheong writes a great article that any Toastmaster could find useful in their daily routine. In fact, this is probably some good material for a speech. So what are some of the things we can do to minimise such interruptions and distractions?read more | digg story [...]

  15. Dave Cheong says:

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the comment. Like you, I keep a task list by my table and I review it frequently. At the moment, I’m tossing between keeping to the paper based system vs online. In the end, I don’t think it matters too much which you use as long as it’s effective.

    Rewarding yourself is definitely a good thing because it keeps the motivation up.

    Thanks for dropping by.

    dave

  16. Joseph says:

    Nice article. It’s a good way to start my day. If you don’t mind, I’ve added a link for this article in my blog. It’s worth sharing :D

    I think I’ll use no. 18 more often seeing I dont like my work that much. hehe..

  17. Aaron says:

    Though it may not exactly be conducive to work, things like periodically getting up and moving about (for water or to get lunch, as in one of the items), can help reduce injuries. You need to get up and move about – sitting in front of the computer non stop all day is probably worse than being a bit less productive.

  18. jazzle says:

    I work at home and so don’t have a boss potentially looking over my shoulder all the time. This, of course, makes it even easier to get sidetracked, especially since I can’t work off-grid (I’m a web app dev).

    I have found that tracking how long I spend on my various tasks really helps since it guilt-trips me into not getting distracted.

    I’m nothing to do with SlimTimer but am going to mention it here (and risk this post looking like spam) because I’ve found it so useful.

  19. Damian Brady says:

    Hi Dave,

    I like the tips! I seem to follow some fairly strictly and completely avoid or break the other rules consistently – there’s no middle ground!

    For example, I couldn’t live without filters on my email – I’d never get anything done! On the opposite end of the scale, I frequently have a lot of programs open. Right now, I’ve got 10 apps running, as well as about 6 tabs open in Firefox!

    As for number 15, I’ve gone one better. I use a free program I found via lifehacker called Hotkeys by a company called qliner. It lets you add Windows-key shortcuts for opening different applications and tools (much the same way as Windows-M minimizes everything, Windows-E opens the explorer, etc). Check it out if you’re interested – it works for me, particularly as most of my work requires using at least 4 programs. (and no, I have no affiliation with them!)

    Cheers,
    Damian

  20. Andy says:

    Regarding #6… at my workplace the assumption is that “away” means “not at the computer”. In this case, many people leave short messages that otherwise wouldn’t warrant a full email.

    If you are truly going to be at your desk but busy, there is a “Do Not Disturb” status on the corporate IM that blocks any incoming messages until you change status. That way you don’t get disturbed at all.

    If something like DND isn’t available… just turn the IM off. If the communication is that important they will email you.

  21. Ryan says:

    Great tips. Thank you very much for sharing.

    I am not /really/ a programmer but find that if I have to do some reasonably complicated bash or python scripting then (assuming a Linux workstation/laptop) getting out of X and using the text console is an easy way not to get distracted. Using the framebuffer console will get you the same resolution as you are used to with your GUI. You’ll also have to use a pretty normal text editor like Vim, etc.

    Of course, you still have to make the decision to get away from the distractions like Reddit (where I found this blog).

    So, I bid you Cntrl-Alt-F1.

    Cheers,
    Ryan

  22. Alfa says:

    “Bring your lunch and have it at your desk.”

    Since I work from home, the above tip helps me greatly in keeping focused. And, of course, having some sweet siesta adds fuels me, too.

  23. Eighteen Ways to Stay Focused at Work: Inside the CBC says:

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  24. Ray says:

    One workflow help I’ve found to help the focus simply because it removes the tediousness of working multiple applications (such as when you have to write a memo while having to refer to a spreadsheet) is to have two monitors. Windows now comes equipped with the ability to have two monitors, even laptops, so that you have two pieces of screen real estate, and the cursor can move freely from one to the other. You can open Excel and put it in one screen while Word is on the other, and the active one is whereever the cursor is clicked.

  25. reliabledisappointment.com » Seize the day says:

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  26. Blog of Leonid Mamchenkov » 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work says:

    [...] Staying focused and productive is a hot subject this days. There are plenty of tutorials and lists that suggest what you should and shouldn’t do to improve your workflow. Most of these repeat each other, without saying anything new. 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work is yet another such list. Nicely written though. [...]

  27. 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work - lifehack.org says:

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  28. Let's talk business says:

    18 ways to say focused at work

    Lifehacker points to an interesting post with 18 ways to stay focused at work. OfficeTalk makes it really easy to use some of these tips: 1. Write out a daily task list and plan your day. You can schedule any

  29. nando says:

    Excelent hints, but a health warning: never do the 11th. It’s against happiness, calmness and your well being. It doesn’t seem serious (it’s just a lunch), but it is. Have a nice lunch and enjoy your meal would be the best choice.

  30. BlogoSquare | getting organised : is that cool? says:

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  33. links for 2006-08-15 » My blog of HR, and technology stuff says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work 18 tips on how to stay focused while working, ranging from email management, to having lunch at your desk (occasionally). (tags: GTD productivity work) [...]

  34. Amasan » links for 2006-08-16 says:

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  35. plus ultra blog » 仕事に集中するための18の方法 says:

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  36. Raw Penguin » Blog Archive » 18 Ways to stay focused at work says:

    [...] Dave Cheong has an interesting article on his blog, entitled “18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work“. My wife and I were just discussing working to music this evening – normally, I work in silence, and I find myself easily distracted. Perhaps the right music will help me to stay focused – tomorrow I’m going to try it [...]

  37. GGTD-Geeks Guide To Getting Things Done » GTD Power Links 08-16-06 says:

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  38. AlwaysRight says:

    Actually I disagree with quite a bit of the 18 ways. There is one major way to stay focused at work (at least for me) that renders all the rest inconsequential: Encouragement from your management. Unfortunately for the last 6 years I have been without management that is pro-active or even re-active to encouraging employees.

    I am not sure about the rest of you, but I can get a job anywhere for whatever the salaray is, however, my single most biggest motivation while on that job – is encouragement from management. I like to work hard for those that appreciate it/notice it. I will continue to try to impress them as long as I know that it is not ‘Mission Impossible’. Take away that from me and I start looking for another job as it will be fruitless for me to remain an employee.

    Needless to say it reaffirms my own personal mission statement “It’s not how you solve the problem, as long as you arrive at the correct answer”.

    Before you shoot down that statement, keep in mind that a ‘correct’ answer is inclusive of a correct assesment to the problem and avoiding any pitfalls that would compromise a pristine ‘answer’ whether it be a moral/ethical method or otherwise!

    =-)

    That’s just my two cents – for what it is worth.

  39. How to Stay Focused at Work ~ Lockergnome’s Doing It says:

    [...] With all the potential distractions, staying focused at work can be a full time job by itself. There are articles to Digg; YouTube videos to watch; jokes to forward; IMs to answer – how can anyone actually get their work done? Dave Cheong offers a great list of 18 ways to stay focused at work. Most of these are common sense, but a few like time boxing will genuinely amount to productivity breakthroughs. getting things done, gtd, productivity [...]

  40. messaginglab’s blog on healthcare trends » links for 2006-08-15 says:

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  41. Dave Cheong says:

    Hi AlwaysRight,

    Thank you for your comments. I also agree that having an encouraging boss is important which is one of the reasons why I wrote an article on the “8 simple things you can do to encourage others”. You can find a link to it on the “Most popular” panel.

    However, most of us cannot afford the luxury of picking and choosing our boss. Also when accepting a particular job, our initial assessment of our boss may not eventuate.

    Having an encouraging boss is not something we can control. It is not very realistic to for us to quit our jobs just because we don’t have an encouraging boss. If I have to focus at work, what I choose to concentrate on, are the things I can change including how I work and what mindset I adopt.

    Thanks for your commments.

    dave

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  43. screamingclown » Blog Archive » Stuff to do says:

    [...] 10 Steps to a Balanced Life 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work I’ve been following this one religously all week. [...]

  44. Kaizer Billimioria says:

    Hi David,
    I regularly revisit this article. It helps me realign my focus to the job at hand. The “aha!” moment came to me when i stopped reading personal emails in the morning. This is so true in my case and it works like a charm for me.

    Your article and insights have helped me remain focused.

    Thanks!

    Kaizer.

  45. Dave Cheong says:

    Hi Kaizer,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you have found the article useful.

    Good luck! May you have lots of productive work days… :)

    dave

  46. AlwaysRight says:

    David:

    I found “8 simple things you can do to encourage others” to be most inspirational! Very good work at expressing things that I find a lot of us take for granted. I appreciate what your purpose for these articles are, and I hope others appreciate them and utilize them for their benefit and the benefit of their co-workers. I know I have shared both articles with my co-workers in hopes of changing one of the things that you stated that we have no control over. I believe we have control over everything that happens in our life (to some degree) but – I digress – I tend to be a conceptual philosopher so I view things abstract from most.

    Thank you for your articles they have proved beneficial!

  47. Ways To Stay Focused At Work at LinkTipIdea says:

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  48. Dave Cheong says:

    Hi AlwaysRight,

    Thanks for dropping another comment. I wish you all the best at your work place. I think if everyone tried a little harder to be nice and more encouraging, the world as a whole could be a much better place.

    Also, thanks for *your* words of encouragement! :)

    dave

  49. Pollywogs! » Blog Archive » Page of the day: says:

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  50. Julio says:

    Dave,
    Very good points you made.
    Another added value of your writing, beside the 18 points, is the fact of having them resumed in one site we can point others to come to. On my personal experience I had already implemented almost all of your points with the exception of number 9. I actually stand up and walk for water or tea every now and then, because otherwise I’d stay focused on my monitor for too much time, and that’s not healthy.

    Thanks for your article!

  51. Ellen Weber says:

    These are great, Dave, and most of the points you raised here are very strongly supported in current research about how to get the most from the human brain. Nice applications and a good discussion too. Focus is certainly one of the traits that get people ahead in their careers. Do you think it is the same for small business owners also?

    http://www.brainbasedbusiness.com

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  56. Bernie’s Ramblings / Need help focusing on work? says:

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  57. kevin says:

    good article. I think it’s funny that after I read this , during work, I spent my unfocused time tagging your post on delicious and my yahoo.

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    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work [...]

  59. Dave Cheong says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Heh. The irony is not lost on me either. Thanks for dropping in.

    dave

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  61. Mukund says:

    I digg the 17th Point. :)

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  63. Genuine Curiosity says:

    Great tips on getting focused at work

    Dave Cheong has a great write up in his latest post, 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work. He’s created a nice blend of how to deal with physical and virtual distractions in the workplace. The one I have trouble

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  65. The Inveterate Observer » Blog Archive » 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work says:

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  66. Biotope Blogue 2.0 - Geoffroi Garon » 18 façons de rester concentrer au travail says:

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  67. Will Murray’s Blog :: 28 Ways to Improve Your Workspace says:

    [...] It’s actually 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work and 10 tips for keeping your desk clean and tidy. The funny thing is that the two articles have opposing views about eating at your desk. One thinks its a great way to focus, and the other thinks it should be avoided due to the buildup of food related clutter and crumbs. Oddly, I agree with both. Hehe. [...]

  68. Kelly Shipp’s Blog » Blog Archive » 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work is a fun article I ran across viewing Dave Cheong’s blog.  Some of his ideas are actually refreshingly insightful.  Take a look and stay focused! [...]

  69. Kelly Shipp says:

    Great site and blog. I’ve only read this article, but I’m anxious to view the others you have. Keep up the great posts.
    Thanks

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    [...] Dave Cheong: Here’s six ways to stay focused at work: [...]

  72. Legal Andrew » Archives » Ways to Stay Focused at Work / School says:

    [...] I just found a great post on Dave Cheong’s blog entitled “18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work.” Not to be let down, the post definitely delivers on its promise. Here are two of my favorite tips that Dave offers: Write out a daily task list and plan your day. There’s nothing like a task list sitting next to you to keep you focused. When you have a list of the things you need to accomplish in a day, having that close to you constantly reminding you of what needs to be done is a great way of keeping on track. [...]

  73. Pavel says:

    Great article, enjoy it.

    But, Dave, I have a feeling that you would recommend people to sit 8 hours at the desk without having a break? You advise to have lunch at the desk (which, by the way, really hurts other people’s working abilities if they don’t leave the room) and a good armchair.

    It is always recommended to make frequent breaks – not just taking your eyes off of the monitor but getting up from the chair and stralling a little so the blood runs through faster. I notice that if people sit without raising their butt their productivity degrades and they look like zombies by the evening… then in the mornings too and so all day.

    Some companies set up excersice equipment on premises for this. Some 15 minutes on a bike or a rowing machines can boost you.

    In s/w development “body leasing” worked ours are very important of course. I think we’d better talk clients into fixed price schemes more often and have our developers work less (to save their health) but more productive.

  74. Dave Cheong says:

    Hi Pavel,

    Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment.

    Actually, I didn’t say don’t take a break. There’s a couple of things I think I should clarify.

    Firstly, I mentioned that tip 11 is not something you should be doing every day. It should only be something you do when you absolutely need to make a deadline. I’m not sure about others, but I for one have eaten at my desk when I’ve had to deliver a piece of work by 5pm that same day. Taking that time off during lunch would have broken my rhythm.

    Secondly, just because I suggest not leaving your desk for lunch doesn’t mean you don’t take breaks. The two things are actually mutually exclusive. You can eat your lunch at your desk *and* take breaks to do your stretches and micro excercises. In fact, you have to take breaks to go to the toilet any how, so it isn’t something you should avoid doing.

    If I have mislead you or anyone else in any way, my apologies! Remember, for all sorts of health reasons (eg repetitive stress injuries), you need to take breaks. However, you can be selective about the types of breaks you take – micro excercises are ok, going to the kitchen every 30 mins is not.

    dave

  75. Business Communication Headline News » 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work says:

    [...] Here’s my list of 18 ways to stay focused at work." More . . . [...]

  76. Something is going on » Blog Archive » 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work says:

    [...] Dave Cheong Writes an excellent article on how to get work done at work. The summarized list is: [...]

  77. Get Focused says:

    [...] Via Dwayne at Genuine Curiosity comes this meaty post from Dave Cheong called 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work. Here are my favorites: Listen to the right types of music. Music is a great way of settling into the working routine. In addition, having music can drown out office noises like printers and background chattering. Be careful though, depending on personal preference, some types of music are not particularly conducive to productive work. For me, I can’t work when listening to songs with lots of lyrics because the words interrupt my thinking process. [...]

  78. 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work « Academic Lifehacker says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work [ from Dave Cheong ] [...]

  79. Overcoming Laziness » “18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work” says:

    [...] I found a valuable article by software entrepreneur Dave Cheong called 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work. Laziness is often a problem of lack of focus. You get involved with doing Task A, but then Task B catches your eye. Pretty soon, hours have gone by and you haven’t gotten a lot done. My favorite of Dave’s recommendations — which I’ll be posting detailed step-by-step instructions about — are these: [...]

  80. vincent says:

    Good idea.I have translated it into Chinese.:)
    http://www.veryword.com/2006/09/12/十八种方法让你集中精力工作/#more-177

  81. 18中方法让你集中精力工作 | Komp@kar.CN 黑板报 says:

    [...] 【英文原文】 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work [...]

  82. IDEA的网络日志™ says:

    BT语录之时间管理

    上帝给了每个人公平的每天三个八小时。第一个八小时大家都%E…

  83. Technical Related Notes » Blog Archive » links for 2006-09-07 says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work (tags: productivity work tips howto) [...]

  84. Jonas says:

    I have a problem when dealing with boring tasks. So I started with time boxes. I work 50 min and then rest 10. That way I know how many minutes I have to wait until I can surf or what ever. I even shut down the e.mail program and only checks it at lunch.

    Thanks for a great list.

  85. Dave Cheong says:

    Hi Jonas,

    Thanks for dropping by and you’re welcome. I’m glad time boxing is working out for you.

    Keep it up.

    dave

  86. Links 10-11-2005 - Orbit Now! Troy Worman’s Weblog says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work by Dave Cheong Posted in  Blinks on Wednesday October 11, 2006 [...]

  87. reliabledisappointment.com » Blog Archive » Seize the day says:

    [...] David Cheong has posted a brilliant article about ‘18 ways to stay focused at work‘. What I really like about this one is the fact that David has very pragmatic advise which do not deal with any hack or software tool, but get down to those areas in life which have to do with discipline. As you know I love those parts which are little real-life helpers rather than suggesting the illusion that some tool can help you to get more productive. Thanks David for this great summary. [...]

  88. Amy Stephen says:

    Excellent thank you. The one change I will implement right away is not checking email when I wake up. Four hours can pass when I only intended to do a quick look during coffee. I already got a good chair. ;-) Very good work.

  89. Amy Stephen » Blog Archive » links for 2006-10-15 says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work (tags: Personal_Focus) [...]

  90. Inside Chris’s Head » How to Do Nothing/Somthing At Work says:

    [...] Isn’t the internet a wonderful place? You can find all sorts of resources online. Recently I came across two very different articles. The first was titled How to Do Nothing at Work, and Get Away With It while the second was 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work. So which one will you read? [...]

  91. enq says:

    Congratulations, you made it in the top list of lists. Please take a look here: http://uberlogging.blogspot.com/2006/10/top-list-of-top-lists.html

  92. a thaumaturgical compendium » Blog Archive » Remaindered Links: says:

    [...] 18 ways to stay concentrated at work (stop reading blogs, #17) [...]

  93. The Social Programmer » Blog Archive » GTD podcasts, giving up TV, early rising… says:

    [...] Elsewhere, I found some good stuff over at Dave Cheong’s blog. Most notably, waking up early and consistently and 18 ways to stay focused at work. Two excellent posts, I wish I could have an office/study as tidy as Dave’s – it takes time and effort, may be I’ll get there. [...]

  94. 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work at Sumon’s Blog says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work [...]

  95. YoungGoGetter » How to stay focused says:

    [...] How to stay focused August 14th, 2006 18 ways to stay focused at work. [...]

  96. Cleaven Chia’s Edublog » Blog Archive » 2 Jan 2007: And School Starts Again! says:

    [...] And again, my personal best 9 from his second article “18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work” (some of the techniques might not be relevant to academics, but can be adapted flexibly in one way or another): [...]

  97. Genuine Curiosity says:

    Top posts from 2006…

    Well, as the sun has set on 2006, I spent some time looking through the data on what got read the most on my blog last year. I’m always interested to see what topics are the most interesting to the…

  98. Drainedge Link Tank · Today’s Links says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work – Dave Cheong [...]

  99. Guillaume Guité says:

    Wow, this helps a lot…

    I’m a graphic designer and a videomaker and work at home most of the time which is hell for distractions. You did point out a lot of little things that I’m doing daily and should avoid, it’s like you’ve been watching me every hour for a week!

    I think number 4 and 5 are pure gold. I can take an hour in the morning answering to e-mails from members of my band, and another hour checking other e-mails throughout the day.

  100. The Angry Worker says:

    18 Ways To Stay Focused at Work…

  101. XODA blogg » Blog Archive » Fokuserad på arbetet? says:

    [...] Dave Cheong tipsar om hur du gör för att fokusera på arbetet. Där finns en del bra tips, även för oss som arbetar på distans. Fler tips hittar du i min artikel Att arbeta på distans. [...]

  102. Ways to Focus at Work « My Life With IT says:

    [...] Here, Dave Cheong has introduced 18 ways to focus on work. I don’t know if I can allocate time slots for colleagues to interrupt me to solve their problems. Maybe I can if I get to know them better. The time boxing recommended seems to harder to implement on programming, I wonder if anyone has managed to use it for programming. Maybe it can be done. [...]

  103. mattrutherford.com says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work sound advice (tags: productivity work lifehacks gtd tips howto focus) [...]

  104. xeophin.tapestry » Blog Archive » Dave Cheong: 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work: [...]

  105. 18 ways to stay focused at work, a la Dave Cheong - sidereallife.com says:

    [...] Dave Cheong has compiled a pretty good list of 18 ways to stay focused at work. Focus is truly crucial when it comes to accomplishing a task. And I’ve always found that it’s hard to come by naturally, without stacking the deck in your favor. It’s something you need to train for, and you need to groom your environment to be conducive to focus. Here are a couple that are very relevant to areas I’m trying to improve: 1. Write out a daily task list and plan your day. There’s nothing like a task list sitting next to you to keep you focused. When you have a list of the things you need to accomplish in a day, having that close to you constantly reminding you of what needs to be done is a great way of keeping on track. [...]

  106. Maria Langer, the Official Web Site* » links for 2007-01-16 says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work A great article with tips for staying focused — and thus working more productively — at work. There’s something in here for everyone. By Dave Cheong. (tags: Advice article business howto productivity reference tips time work focus gtd) [...]

  107. Maria Langer, the Official Web Site* » 5 Tips for Staying Focused says:

    [...] Remember, I work alone in an office, so I’m not usually distracted by other people. If you have distractions from others, be sure to check out “18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work” by Dave Cheung. His article includes some tips for keeping co-workers from ruining your productivity. [...]

  108. Me » Stay Focus! says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work by Dave Cheong http://www.davecheong.com/2006/08/14/18-ways-to-stay-focused-at-work [...]

  109. Make More of Your Job says:

    In the News…

    We’ve been talking recently about how to stay on-task and overproduce at your job and when to know that you should move on if your job isn’t sparking any passion in your life. Here are a few pieces I’ve found…

  110. Marius’s blog » Blog Archive » How not to get distracted at work says:

    [...] 18 tips to help keep you focused on your work. Oh’ yeah! [...]

  111. 18 maneras para mantenerse enfocado en el trabajo « el50 says:

    [...] El artículo del blog Dave Cheong (que por cierto recomiendo y aun más que volvió otra vez a la vida) “18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work”, me ayudado ha permanecer más enfocado en los deberes que tengo que hacer. Por lo tanto, hago una traducción a veces más resumen de estos buenos consejos que se que a más de uno le pueden ser de utilidad. [...]

  112. Ulises E. says:

    Dave, I made a little spanish translation.

    Thanks for your extraordinary article.

  113. Dave Cheong says:

    You’re welcome and thanks for the translation.

    dave

  114. ToolBlog » Wie man sich auf seine Arbeit konzentriert says:

    [...] In seinem Weblog stellt Dave Cheong 18 wirkungsvolle Methoden vor, wie Sie sich voll auf Ihre Arbeit konzentrieren können, ohne abgelenkt zu werden. Sie lauten: [...]

  115. emeryjay says:

    Great advice!

    I would go easy on advising folks to eat lunch at the desk. People tend to be more refreshed after taking a lunch break.

    You may also run afoul of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under terms of the act, employees cannot legally waive certain rights guaranteed under that law — breaks and a meal break.

    – The boss cannot ask his secretary to skip lunch.
    – Even the boss cannot skip lunch and eat at his desk.
    – Workers cannot volunteer to work through lunch to leave early.

    I once worked at a place that had to pay back wages because there was a phone in the company cafeteria and employees sometimes were paged. Many folks ignored the pages, but the Dept. of Labor ruled that if you were subject to be paged, you were denied a lunch break because you were actually on call.

    Many companies do not allow employees to bring food to their desks for that reason.

  116. Dave Cheong says:

    Hi emeryjay,

    Thanks for dropping by and leaving a detailed and insightful response. I agree that eating lunch at the desk isn’t something you’d want to do often, but when the tough get going and you need something done that day, it may be a viable option.

    I’ve mentioned it several times in the comment thread, but it’s important nonetheless to make sure you heed:

    http://www.davecheong.com/2006/08/14/18-ways-to-stay-focused-at-work/#comment-564

    Thanks for dropping by! Looking forward to more comments like this.

    dave

  117. The Parking Lot 02.23.2007 at SmartLemming.com says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work by Dave Cheong I love Dave Cheong’s blog about as much as I love David Seah’s productivity tools! Both Dave’s are bookends in my Bloglines. Here are Dave’s “18 tips to stay focused at work” with some additional commentary on my part: [...]

  118. 十八种方法让你集中精力工作 | VeryWord says:

    [...] 注:翻译有部分删除。翻译本文主要出于学习的目的。如果你英语比较熟练,建议读原文。 原文 集中精力 工作 [...]

  119. Contract Worker - 18 Ways to Stay Focused While Working, Part 1 says:

    [...] Dave Cheong’s many years of working in “many client sites and a variety of layouts” have given him invaluable experience. Experience he shared with the world last August 2006. Yet the advice he gives is practically timeless, because his 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work applies regardless of setup or location. So without further ado, here’s his list, along with my thoughts as a freelancer: [...]

  120. Contract Worker - 18 Ways to Stay Focused While Working, Part 2 says:

    [...] This continues my discussion on Dave Cheong’s 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work: [...]

  121. Gavin says:

    Lots of good advice here but I agree with Nando and others – never lunch at your desk if you can possibly help it. It’s antisocial and makes your keyboard sticky. I also think that a 8-5 day without a change of scene makes you less productive. Half an hour or 40 minutes is all it takes to walk around the building, sit at a table with colleagues, eat and talk. If you must be 100% productive then discuss work at lunch…

  122. Bobette Bryan says:

    Great tips. I’ve been having a difficult time focusing on some projects, and I believe these tips will help me–especially the email tip. Thanks!

  123. Ultimate Tip to Reach GTD Nirvana « Legal Andrew says:

    [...] Reclaiming your ability to focus 18 ways to stay focused at work An empty mind does a better job of thinking [...]

  124. Razekane97 says:

    Dave,
    As an adult with ADHD, I struggle with many of the organizational / time management issues you address. I’ve done my homework and am working hard to evolve theory into action. I appreciate your articles as they take much of what I have learned and delineated them into usable chunks that I can read over and over again.
    Thanks.

  125. Dave Cheong says:

    Hi Razekane97,

    Thanks and good luck. I hope these tips work for you. I’d be interested to hear how things work out.

    dave

  126. work place motivation says:

    work place motivation…

    I found it very useful. Thanks for the knowledge. I am personally trying to follow the advice & try to be independent….

  127. Kuehleborn’s world says:

    [...] Unfortunately reading blogs about productivity is a huge obstacle in my efforts to Get Things Done. Dave Cheong in “18 ways to stay focused at work” lists blogreading at #17, and at the third volume of “33 rules to boost your productivity” “Steve Pavlina has at # 32 the remarkable quote: Instead of doing your actual work, spend most of your time reading productivity blogs. Within a few months, you’ll have acquired enough knowledge to start your own. Eventually you’ll realize that 50% of the web consists of productivity tips written by chronic procrastinators… [...]

  128. » 30 Productivity Tips for Designers says:

    [...] David Cheong – 18 Ways to stay focused at work [...]

  129. lost node » Blog Archive » 30 Productivity Tips for Designers says:

    [...] David Cheong – 18 Ways to stay focused at work [...]

  130. Kim says:

    Your site and information is great David. As a professional organizer and educator on stress management, ideas set forth as simply as yours are so very helpful to readers. You’re also very thorough in your idea flow, great job!
    Kim “Dr. DeClutter”

  131. Positive Articles Day - Volume 3 » Visualized.Feel.Abundance says:

    [...] I literally stumbled across the first article while surfing at Stumbleupon.com last week. It is titled “18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work” by Dave Cheong over at davecheong.com. I don’t know Dave personally, I just found his articles interesting and valuable to share with you, my readers. He describes himself as “Software Engineer’s journey to Entrepreneurship”. [...]

  132. Maria says:

    Leave those unpleasant people/matters behind will help refocus on tasks. Office politics sometimes bother our mind & focus. Perhaps reminding oneself of what to do after 6 or over weekends may incentivise and help us to refocus. Just a thought.

  133. Kannan says:

    Hi dave,

    I agree with Many of the things you say including having a daily list of tasks, not checking your personal emails in the morning, avoiding music with lyrics etc. That concurs with everything in my experience.

    However I disagree with a few items like having lunch at the desk. I think its important to give the mind a break from work and have the lunch at the lunch room or cafeteria, so that it gets time to relax and is fresh by the time it comes back to work. It takes me 20-30 min for lunch, but I get relaxed and also that short walk to cafeteria helps, although I do bring my own lunch. Also I disagree with the IM thing, I think instead of busy or away status, people should avoid logging on to IM in the first place, if they want to be productive. And even if one is using IM to communicate with co-workers, I would encourage them to get up from the desk and communicate directly, as it also encourages more blood flow in your body when you get up and walk time to time. So refilling your water once a hour, I agree with that too.

    anyways just sharing my 2 cents,

    thanks,
    Kannan

  134. Helga says:

    Thanks so very much for taking your time to create this very useful and informative site. I have learned a lot from your site. Thanks!!a

  135. deprec4ted » Blog Archive » Sobre espacios de trabajo y productividad says:

    [...] Para los que sepais inglés, os dejo el artículo original de Chong. Realmente interesante. [...]

  136. sarah says:

    okk that very nice but i need to know how to stay foused at school friends and all that make it impossible…………….. help

  137. Glen Allsopp says:

    I’m struggling and stumbled across this article, great advice!

  138. Technotheory.com - Productivity tips are only valuable if you use them. Here are some tips to use. says:

    [...] Dave Cheong’s 18 ways to stay focused at work [...]

  139. Web Design Lincolnshire says:

    I struggle to stay focused at work, due to the boring tasks. But I prefer to work for myself.

    But these tips are great to improve my prodcution.

  140. Ann Jordan says:

    Great tips! I know the music tip really works great for me. Smooth jazz does the job everytime.

  141. NVQ says:

    Thanks man, I found these tips really useful. especially the list of tasks at the beginning of the day. I’ve been training my self to do it and so far have lasted the course.

    Cheers,

  142. Unheard Thoughts & Yearnings » Blog Archive » 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work says:

    [...] I found a valuable article by software entrepreneur Dave Cheong called 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work. Laziness is often a problem of lack of focus. You get involved with doing Task A, but then Task B catches your eye. Pretty soon, hours have gone by and you haven’t gotten a lot done. [...]

  143. 30 Productivity Tips for Designers - Blue Box Sols says:

    [...] David Cheong – 18 Ways to stay focused at work [...]

  144. HeatherB says:

    I will definitely put these to good use. Another suggestion, I just recently started an Omega 3 supplement by Neurovi. I noticed within about a week that I felt more alert. Not to mention that even though I loved my after work nap, I didn’t feel the need to take one anymore. It is a high quality product and I would recommend it to anyone, especially college students!! Thought it was worth mentioning. I hear they are still doing the promotion I used to get my bottle at a discount. They gave me 12% off for entering “gift of health”. Not too bad.

  145. animate my life says:

    I am going to print this list and apply it to my life. I always have a hard time accomplishing my goals(long and short).. Distractions and Lack of self confidence always mess me up in my life.

    Thank you for publishing this list…

  146. Mohamed says:

    Good stuff, I Googled focus at work, and your list is the first to appear. I like the point about changing your perception of work, making it a challenge and fun is working now for me.
    Thank you.

    I really like “Software Engineer’s journey to Entrepreneurship”, I would love to know about this journey.

  147. dunia jan says:

    nice steps ,I would really implement them in daily work

  148. Staying Focused at Work | Memory & Focus says:

    [...] Sources: http://www.davecheong.com/2006/08/14/18-ways-to-stay-focused-at-work/ [...]

  149. proXima says:

    Nice tips but everyone has different working style.

  150. Szabi says:

    Great article. And this close those programs… since this Tweetdeck sneaked on my laptop…:)

  151. jcg1013 says:

    #8 – the best thing for this is a set of headphones that hooks into your phone system so you can talk on the phone hands-free (may be $$, depending on your setup, though). not only does this let you do things while you’re on hold, but also deters the local energy vampires from interrupting you – thinking that you’re on a call. i’ve been saved many times, both when wearing phone-type headphones and with regular music-type, but highly visible, headphones.

  152. Multitask, schmultitask. | Minute Muse says:

    [...] http://www.davecheong.com/2006/08/14/18-ways-to-stay-focused-at-work/ [...]

  153. Chirag says:

    Thanks for the this, I only used to do the first one and then…wander away.

    btw, ironically I am reading this in morning :)

  154. Friday Link Round Up « ellie <3 libraries says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work [...]

  155. Too much information causing brain freeze? « Aquifer Media Weblog says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Praise for the half-assedInto the VortexHis and Hers: Girliness Taking Over Man World [...]

  156. Louis says:

    Very helpful article Dave. Thanks.

  157. Jason Lee says:

    I love your article on ‘18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work’, it really helps me in my daily work.

    Thanks for your wonderful tips.

  158. Learn to Focus and Become Effective to Maximize Results says:

    [...] Stay Focused at Work [...]

  159. Ways to Deal with Distraction : Productivity501 says:

    [...] 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work-Dave Cheong Simply working in a place with other people provides a whole range of challenges to productivity. Dave Cheong offers a helpful list of tips for those needing ways to keep themselves focused throughout a challenging work day. [...]

  160. Hala Alfadhley says:

    It’s an amazing article, you should leave your job and go write for a website or something. I am still in highschool, but it’s helpful nonetheless.

  161. iris says:

    I like the last one… on how to make uninterested stuff appeal to oneself by making it fun. Good tip! Trg the mind. :)

  162. Better Life says:

    Awesome article, I implement a lot of these to try to stay focused and on top of things.

  163. Discipline and Deflection | Polymath Programmer says:

    [...] When you have something important to do, you need to focus. This actually has 2 parts. You need to concentrate on that one task, and ignore any interruptions (including other tasks). It turns out that there’s lots of advice on this, and that it’s hard. [...]

  164. Ed Martin says:

    If you are a go-to person, you need to have a visual cue that you should not be bothered. It could be that people know when you have the headphones on to comeback later, or maybe just a don’t disturb sign. Just something people can see and know to come back later.

  165. Stay Focused for Success says:

    [...] Move Along Now You’ve got your task so stay focused for the next month. You know what you have to do. To help, here are a couple of tools to help keep you from getting distracted during your work day. Dawud Miracle has his 50 minute hour. Dave Cheong has 18 ways to stay focused at work. Dave Allen has written the classic Getting Things Done. [...]

  166. Soliman says:

    hey there Dave…great blog, man…

    I am a family business co-runner and i find hard time getting things done the way i want…

    ur blog is helping me loads…

    ever thought about make a “Share” bottun to clik for sharing on facebook and stuff…

    have a great day
    angie, from Egypt

  167. freelancer says:

    As a freelance worker, I found your advice extremely useful. I will implement them every day.

  168. Tip of the Week – Stay Focused | expertSEM says:

    [...] GREAT tips from a blogger/software engineer/entrepreneur Dave Cheong. He has two great posts “18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work” and “11 Ways of Staying [...]

  169. Dave Cheong says:

    Hi guys – thanks for the comments. It’s really great to see this article strike a chord with so many people around the world and for so long.

    Good luck to you all.

    dave

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