“At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles. But keep thy state; come not into their confusion.” Ralph Waldo Emerson


How many times a day would you say you lose concentration? Sometimes it is simply the habit of checking our phones that can distract us from our task, regardless of whether or not there has been a notification. Other times it may be to address an untidy looking shelf. Either way, it is worth noting the effect this can have on our productivity.

Research suggests that it can take up to 25 minutes to regain focus after a distraction has occurred. From this perspective, immersing ourselves in a task can be the most productive way of working, in the short term at least. It may be that ignoring others and coming across as rude is necessary to ensure we maximise our moments of high concentration. Other strategies may include blocking out periods of time where we are unattainable or only replying to the outside world at designated moments. In fact, establishing what to prioritise and when can save valuable time in our days, weeks and year. This is particularly true if we account for the lost time we spend refocusing every day. Fortunately, Pareto’s Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, suggests that an essential 20% of our work can yield 80% of the outcomes. As such, narrowing our focus to certain key areas can reap far greater rewards in equal amounts of time.

While it is clear that we each have optimal productivity zones, too much unwanted clutter can often be more of a hindrance than an advantage. Whether it is physical or emotional, ridding ourselves of stress-inducing distractions can bring about a new sense of calm and efficiency. As this is a personal sentiment, some of us will find it in an orderly house, others perhaps through meditation or exercise. In fact, the currently trending Danish word Hygge refers to this sense of natural peace and cosiness. However, perhaps beware not to de-clutter too much. As Albert Einstein once said:


“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”.