How to Stay Focused When Working on a Computer

Spending long hours in front of the computer is necessary for many professions — unfortunately, this practice also causes a number of health problems, such as headaches and blurred vision.

These health issues, combined with digital and physical distractions all around you, impact your focus and productivity at work.

So, here are 6 efficient tips to help you focus during the long hours spent working on the computer, without wreaking havoc on your health.

Staying focused when working on a computer - cover
  • Working on a computer for long periods of time can impact your overall health and affect your productivity.
  • To optimize health and focus, set a goal for the day and integrate movement into your routine.
  • Blinking frequently, using blue-light filters, adjusting text size, screen brightness, and contrast are some ways to prevent eye strain.
  • Unwind periodically through games or chats with co-workers to refresh your mind. 
  • Strategies to eliminate physical and digital distractions include using website blockers, muting notifications, getting rid of unwanted apps and files, and organizing your workspace.

Tip #1 — Set a goal

Goals channel your attention towards a specific outcome and help you stay motivated. Start by setting a realistic and time-bound goal (or a to-do list) for the day, in addition to breaking down your goal into small tasks. 

If you find it difficult to shortlist the tasks you need to focus on, you can follow the advice of Gary Keller, entrepreneur and author of the best-seller The One Thing

In an interview with Tim Ferris, podcaster and lifestyle guru, Keller suggests asking yourself this question to stay focused on the most important task:

“What’s the one thing I can do that by doing it, everything is either easier or unnecessary?”

—Gary Keller

As soon as I had a complex article to write involving a lot of data points, I knew it was time to put this technique to the test. Since I had issues with structuring my article so that it would follow a logical flow, I started by asking myself: 

What is the one thing I can do that would make the entire process easier?

I quickly realized that compiling the data was the missing puzzle piece that would solve all my issues. If I organized the information in a tabular format, with each table representing a specific aspect of the content, I would be able to determine the overall structure of the piece in no time. This way, the logical flow of my article would naturally arise out of that process. 

💡 Clockify Pro Tip

Want to learn some quick concentration techniques that help you stay focused? Our detailed blog post has it all:

Tip #2 — Take care of your eyes 

Your eyes take the biggest hit when you’re working in front of the computer for hours — so you’ll need to take good care of them throughout your computer sessions:

  • Make a deliberate effort to blink more often — because staring at the computer screen for a long time makes us forget to blink, resulting in eye strain.
  • Bring a bottle of artificial tear drops to work — because prolonged screen time makes our eyes dry, resulting in an uncomfortable, scratchy feeling.
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule — after staring for 20 minutes at your computer screen, gaze at an object at least 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds, to exercise your eyes.
  • Use computer glasses with an anti-reflective coating and a tint — such glasses reduce glare, increase contrast for easier viewing, and minimize eye strain.
  • Invest in an anti-blue light cover for your PC — after my eye strain became chronic, I bought a screen protector designed to block blue light and minimize glare from the computer.  
  • Turn the brightness of your monitor down and increase the font on websites for easier reading — you can do that by pressing “ctrl” and “+” on your keyboard while viewing any website.

As a result, you’ll relieve strained eyes and feel more rested, as well as comfortable enough to focus on work.

💡 Clockify Pro Tip

Learn how to build a sustainable habit of time tracking to make the most of your day with 10 smart tips listed in this blog post:

Tip #3 — Adjust your workstation 

Tweaking your workstation helps you maintain the right body posture when working long hours in front of a computer. The right body posture is the key to avoiding stressing your neck, back, and shoulder muscles.  

Here are some tips given by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to maintain a neutral body posture at your workstation:

  • Invest in an adjustable chair and desk that allow you to sit comfortably and help you avoid awkward postures.
  • Position your computer so that the top of the screen is slightly below the level of your head, allowing for a comfortable, downward gaze while viewing it.
  • Ensure your upper arms and shoulders are relaxed and hang naturally at the sides of your body.
  • Keep your elbows bent at an angle between 90 and 120 degrees.
  • Support your feet using a footrest if you cannot place your feet on the floor.
  • Use a cushion or pillow that supports the small of your back.
  • Place the mouse, keyboard, and other accessories within easy reach to avoid overreaching.

What else can you do to adjust your workstation to clear the way to good focus? Stefan Veljković, content writer and researcher at Clockify, uses a standing desk, which introduces a breath of fresh air into his work environment and ultimately leads to him being able to focus better:   

Stefan Veljkovic, content writer and researcher at Clockify

“Standing while working forces me to focus strictly on the work and not get carried away by a fancy LinkedIn post or other shiny new things. While I’m standing, I know that my feet will start hurting in an hour or so, so time is of the essence.”

💡 Clockify Pro Tip

Wondering if there’s a magic wand to escape the harmful effects of working long hours? Check out this blog post for 15 expert tips:

Tip #4 — Move more

Developing a computer hunch is easy — so avoid sitting at a computer for more than 2 hours at a time. Prolonged sitting during computer work can also affect your cognition, which in turn affects your job performance. So take the opportunity to move more — either during breaks, or even while you’re working.

Even a 5 minute walk can do wonders for your health and brain function, according to a study by National Public Radio (NPR) and Columbia University Medical Center.

One of the study participants, Dana Lopez Maile, who had a heart condition, took a 5-minute movement break every 30 minutes consistently. After just 2 weeks, she found that her health parameters and energy levels improved.

You can even use a Pomodoro timer and set sound notifications for these breaks so that you don’t carry out your work for long periods hunched in front of the computer.

You can also:

  • Go on a walk around the office,
  • Get a quick, nutritious snack in the kitchen,
  • Make yourself a cup of coffee, or
  • Go out for lunch instead of ordering in — you’ll get some exercise and feel less tired at the end of the day. 

To find out what experts have to say about moving around more throughout the day to have a better chance at staying focused when working on a computer, I contacted time management and productivity coach Alexis Haselberger. She had a suggestion regarding moving around during meetings: 

Alexis Haselberger, time management and productivity coach

“Take walking meetings — any meeting where you’re listening, not presenting, could be a good candidate.”

Since it’s proven that physical activity — or a lack thereof — significantly impacts your overall work performance, taking a walk every now and then would greatly benefit your focus and the capacity to complete your tasks throughout the day. 

💡 Clockify Pro Tip

From meditating to playing brain games, there are many fun ways to boost your productivity and mental health. Explore these exercises here:

Tip #5 —Take breaks to unwind 

While taking breaks for physical activity is crucial, it’s equally important to take moments for some fun! In fact, when you’re aware a fun break is waiting for you around the corner, you’ll be more likely to actually stay focused while working. 

Here are some ways to unwind and have some fun time:

  • Play a game — if your company office has this kind of entertainment, invite your team for a short foosball session or a table tennis match. You can even try out an office game meant to improve your time management.
  • Chat with colleagues — initiate a short chat with your colleagues by asking them about their plans for the summer or for the holidays.
  • Listen to music — if your work tasks require your undivided attention and extreme focus, a short break where you get to listen to your favorite tunes will move your attention away from your tasks and reset your energy for the day. 

By the end of such a fun break, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to focus on work again.

💡 Clockify Pro Tip

Elevate your mood and knowledge of time management with 40+ fun games. Read it here:

Tip #6 — Avoid digital and physical distractions 

While trying to focus, you can easily be distracted by the noise around you, but also random BuzzFeed articles, emails, videos on YouTube, social media feeds, and other pop-ups.

Here are some ways to avoid digital distractions:

  • Install a website blocker extension to blacklist websites that distract you and limit the time you spend on them,
  • Log out of websites, chat/messenger platforms, and social media apps,
  • Get rid of unnecessary apps, files, messages, and emails,
  • Switch off your phone, and
  • Limit desktop notifications.

Alexis suggests using Chrome extensions, such as Momentum, to avoid the allure of Google and tabs, etc.

Alexis Haselberger, time management and productivity coach

“I love the Chrome extension “Momentum” which opens up a beautiful photo of nature and has a spot to put your focus for the day every time you open a new tab, instead of a new tab opening to Google or something else that might lead you down a rabbit hole.”

If you can’t find a quiet place to work, here are some things you can do to eliminate physical distractions:

  • Use noise-canceling headphones,  
  • Remove physical clutter and ensure your workspace is clean, and
  • Change your work spot or position your desk to face a wall in case visual distractions are your pain point.

💡 Clockify Pro Tip

Learn how to handle work-related distractions and reclaim your productivity. Check out this blog post:

How Clockify helps you optimize time and focus

Thanks to the above strategies, working long hours at work on a computer doesn’t have to lead to health problems or dwindle your focus. In the end, it’s all about building and sustaining good habits that help you optimize your productivity and health.

Looking for an easier way to manage your focus and time while working on a computer? 

Enter Clockify.

By tracking time with Clockify, you can make sure you rest your eyes in 20-minute intervals as prescribed by the 20-20-20 rule.

With Clockify’s browser extension, you can get a clear view of the time you’ve spent on a task in one go by glancing at the timer ticking in your browser — this way, you can make sure you take regular breaks at work.

That’s not all. Clockify helps you seamlessly manage your projects, billing, and team collaboration, all of which help you enhance your efficiency.

Marija  Kojic

Marija Kojic is a productivity writer who's always researching about various productivity techniques and time management tips in order to find the best ones to write about. She can often be found testing and writing about apps meant to enhance the workflow of freelancers, remote workers, and regular employees. Appeared in G2 Crowd Learning Hub, The Good Men Project, and Pick the Brain, among other places.


Free time tracker

Time tracking software used by millions. Clockify is a time tracker and timesheet app that lets you track work hours across projects.

Clockify time tracker
Play Video Button
Closing video