America Is Having Trouble Focusing at Work These Days

February 21, 2017

With the hectic pace of executive orders, emergency hearings, crazy Sean Spicer press conferences, and relentless protests, it can be hard to focus on work these days. If you're having trouble staying on task, you're not alone. A new survey by BetterWorks and Wakefield Research found that 29% of full-time workers report being less productive since the election and 87% read political social media posts during the work day. And employees are not just reading political stories online, they’re bringing those topics into the workplace conversations. A whopping 73% of workers have talked with politics with their colleagues since the election, and 37% have talked politics with their boss or manager.

"I'm really struggling as a manager," said John Nussbaum, a software director at a tech start-up in Chicago. "My direct reports are all less productive; they're spending more time just talking politics in the halls and by Slack. And I totally feel them. I'm struggling to focus myself. But at the end of the day, we have deadlines to meet and demanding clients to satisfy."

So how can you keep to to date with the fast-moving political news and keep from getting fired? Try these tips:

Work in 60 to 90 minute chunks. As you work longer, your mind will begin to wander. If you schedule your work for smaller block of time, and plan to take breaks, you can be more focused and more productive during your scheduled work time.

Plan distraction breaks. This goes hand-in-hand with the first tip. Rather than picking up your phone for every CNN alert or checking Twitter whenever the feeling strikes you, plan to use social media and catch up with the news in between your set blocs of work. This will allow you to alternate your focus on work and the outside world, and ultimately to do better work and be better informed.

Set mini-goals. Rather than just planning to work your 40 hours a week, set weekly and even daily goals, so you can check things off as you accomplish them.  Being mini-goal oriented throughout the day/week will make sure you're accomplishing what you need to accomplish and not just drifting through the day.

 by Matt Moody

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