Things to Get Rid of to Increase Focus

iStock by Getty Images: Credit: Freer Law

Part of the reason we don’t focus as much as we need to (and want to) is because there are all kinds of distractions that pull away our physical, emotional, and intellectual attention. Look around your work space (office, lab, or wherever you do your main work) and see if you find any of these ten items. Then, get rid of them right away and see what a difference it makes.

  1. Books that you bought or received — last week, last year, before you got your degree — and don’t need, want, or read.
  2. Gadgets that no longer work or that no longer serve your research or teaching.
  3. Anything past its expiration date. It doesn’t matter whether it’s still safe to ingest. If you’ve had it so long it’s now expired, it’s only taking up space. You aren’t going to all of a sudden decide those might-be-rancid peanuts or surely-these-won’t-hurt-me allergy tablets from 2012 might be just the thing for your current sniffles…
  4. Food items that you never intend to eat. Maybe (in the before times) they were giving samples at the store or you were shopping while hungry or you grabbed something out of the common room that someone had brought in or you received a box of nougat candy and you dislike such candy very much. Time to toss.
  5. Worn out briefcases, totes, or bags. Most likely, you have nice fresh briefcases, totes, or bags. If you don’t (and you need such items, then it’s time for a bit of shopping).
  6. Extra nametags from all the conferences and meetings you’ve attended in the “before times.” Whether they are lanyard, clip-on, or pin-on style, you already know your name and you can introduce yourself to anyone who doesn’t know your name that you want to have that information.
  7. Computer software (including the CDs, manuals, boxes, etc.) particularly if you never even loaded them onto your computer! Actually, if you have software that arrived in a box with a CD, the outdatedness is definitely causing you to be distracted! Upgrade!
  8. Computers, mice, printers, keyboards, phones, cords, etc. that you no longer use. Maybe you can keep one backup keyboard and mouse and set of cords. But if your printer dies, you don’t need an old backup. You need a new one. Get all that computer clutter out. If your workplace doesn’t have a specific way to dispose of such items, find a store (such as BestBuy) who does.
  9. Tired or dried out plants. If you have a green thumb, excellent. Grow plants in your workspace (unless the vines are crawling all over everything!) But if your schefflera has two leaves or you’ve (over)watered your succulents and they’re now brown and rotted, it’s tossing time!
  10. Trinkets, knick knacks, or memorabilia that either have no personal meaning or that you have too many of. The first owl statue someone gives you might be fine, but because people determine what to give you based on what you already have, if they see six owl items in your office, you’ll soon have many more. Take pictures if you want to save the memory but you don’t have to keep the item. Let someone else enjoy it.

I feel quite sure that you have some or all of these items within your workspace. Take 15-30 minutes and see how many of them you can gather up. Put them on a table out in the hall and I guarantee you, someone else will pick them up and put them in their workspace. That’s not your problem. It’s now theirs! You can then get back to work — and focus more fully on what it is that you need to do. I promise.




Meggin McIntosh, “The PhD of Productivity®”, invests time & energy with people who seek ways to be overjoyed instead of overwhelmed.

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Meggin McIntosh

Meggin McIntosh

Meggin McIntosh, “The PhD of Productivity®”, invests time & energy with people who seek ways to be overjoyed instead of overwhelmed.

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