One mistake. Just one mistake. But it can cost you dearly.
These are the words none of us ever want to hear. But, this week, these were the words I heard from one of my friends who unfortunately was involved in an incident. Without diving into too much detail, the purpose of this post is to share a valuable life lesson about staying focused at work.
According to the International Labour Organization, Workplace Injury Statistics indicate that about 2.3 million people worldwide die annually due to work-related injuries. So, if you do the math, that’s 6,000 people per day!
Now, I’ve done my fair share of data analysis back in my university days and want to acknowledge that sometimes, statistics are skewed. However, numbers aside, the underlining question is this: how many of these workplace injuries could have been avoided?
There are several factors that influence these statistics, one of which is poor working environments that are sometimes hard to fix, depending on the profession and the location in which work is taking place. However, in third world countries, a lack of essential safety equipment and regulations impact the risk of work-related injuries. Although funds might be tight to ensure accessibility for adequate safety equipment, regulations are something that should be brought to the attention of government officials. The health and safety of workers are often overlooked when we need to account for funding. The truth behind this fact is an eye-opener for sure.
However, if we were to exclude incidences that occurred due to working conditions, lack of safety equipment, and regulations, that leaves us with workplace injuries due to poor judgement or lack of focus. Unfortunately, we are human. There will be times when we are tired or distracted, which might result in poor judgement. So, what can we do to avoid things like this happening at work?
One of the biggest challenges for employees is trying to stay focused when there are hundreds of other things happening around them. Perhaps they are dealing with a family issue, going through a breakup, lost a loved one, or worried about paying their rent on time. These are just some of many factors that could contribute to the loss of someone’s focus at work.
However, we all know the risk that distraction plays for certain professions, so what are some effective ways to help you stay focused and to beat distractions at work?
- Take short breaks to stay on your toes. Maybe even grab a coffee to stay alert if you’re feeling tired. When you stay focused on a task for too long without taking a break, you become lethargic. That’s why studies have shown it’s best to take short breaks after every 60 minutes of continuous work, unless you’re doing something that is actively engaging you, like holding a direct conversation with a client.
- Do things one at a time. Yes, your work pile might be going in the direction you least desire, but if you tackle each task one at a time, you’ll be more efficient than starting multiple tasks that remain unfinished. It is also motivating to see things crossed off your to-do list when you’re very busy. So, stick to one task and put all your energy into it.
- Keep your phone in your drawer. Your phone could be your biggest enemy while working. It beeps or your screen lights up for every notification. If you’re in middle of doing something that requires a lot of focus, taking your eyes off momentarily to glance at your phone can be risky. Let’s admit it, we can’t help but want to pick up our phones sometimes to check ‘something,’ but if you put your phone away until your breaks, you’ll feel more focused and avoid any unnecessary distractions.
You’ll be surprised, but music can actually help you focus. If you listen to background music while working, it can help increase your concentration at work. Songs with slow tempos could actually improve your performance because it blocks out distractions and even makes tedious tasks more enjoyable.
Working in certain professions, like construction and transportation can sometimes lead to severe injuries and even death. Clearly, different occupations have different inherent risks, but we can significantly minimize the number of workplace accidents by paying more attention to safety laws and generally being more attentive.
When you go to work and you’re not feeling 100%, be honest to yourself when you’re operating machinery or tasked to do something dangerous. Stepping up and handing over the job to someone else for the day might be the best thing you can do for the safety of yourself and others. Safety is not something you toy around with. It’s your life after all and not everyone is lucky enough to bounce back from workplace injuries.