Any responsible workplace focuses on safety, they train, they provide safety information and necessary equipment. The problem is the number one cause of workplace accidents is the worker being distracted. How many times have we looked at an accident and shaken our heads because “they knew better”? They most likely knew what they were doing, but in that moment, they were distracted. Even the most focused of us can fall victim to distractions, mainly our own thoughts. Even those in dangerous jobs can become complacent and prone to being distracted. According to one Harvard study we spend almost 50 percent of our waking time thinking about something other than what we’re supposed to be doing.
In order to prevent distraction, the first step is to eliminate external distractions in our environment. Working along other productive people is the best way to eliminate distractions from coworkers. Taking breaks is important to recharge and if possible, any conversations with co-workers could also be delayed for break time. Cell phones can distract us by their mere presence but also messages from home may cause our minds to wander, it is wise to leave the cell phone for break time as well.
Why does our mind wander?
The reason our mind wanders can be as simple as natural cycles in our brains or complicated as stressful situations we are trying to process. When it comes to simple distraction the key is to notice when the mind is distracted and bring the focus back to task. Paying attention to your thoughts and recognizing when your mind starts drifting is crucial. This gives us the ability to redirect our thoughts. One trick is to realize you are off track and bring your thoughts to your breathing. Take a deep breath and hold it for four seconds and then exhale. This acts as a reset for our brains.
Dealing with Stressful thoughts
Stress is the most common reason a person can be lost in thought. There are many legitimate reasons a person might be stressed out or upset. The key, however, is to deal with those situations at the right time and the right place. Give yourself time outside of work to deal with life’s challenges and then make the conscious choice to shelve thoughts about them until its safe to work on them again. If you find your self drifting into those stressful thoughts pull your mind back to where you are. Take a minute to really look around you, take in your environment and remind yourself that the task at hand is the only thing you can resolve at this moment.
The brain is a muscle that can be conditioned and trained. There are a few ways that we can develop focus. One method is called the “Pomodoro Method” and it requires you to set a timer and focus on a task for a period of time and then allow yourself a short break. Try memorizing short bits of information like a long joke, triva or poem every week to give your brain exercise. There are a variety of foods that aid in brain function including fatty fish, coffee, blueberries and dark chocolate to name a few. Having a sharper mind in general won’t prevent distractions completely but will make it easier to return to focus.
Staying present in the moment and focused on the environment you are in is the best accident prevention. Outsource Logistics had a record-breaking year when it came to safety. They won numerous awards and celebrated a year with no accidents. This was a total team effort and everyday started with a commitment to safety. We hope everyone can celebrate again this year. Stay focused and stay safe!