Fourteen emails answered, a conference call in the books, and a freshly brewed cup of coffee…all before 10 a.m.
As you lean back in your chair, your eyes wander to the window and you focus on the slight movement of the leaves floating with the wind. This reminds you that you need to check the weather forecast for the upcoming weekend, and many minutes later, you find yourself immersed in an article from three years ago on the effects of pollen on your seasonal allergies.
Distractions are everywhere, even for the busiest of people. And distractions in moderation are sometimes a good thing. According to the book, “Peak Performance,” by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, most experts operate in 50–90 minute intervals, with usually 7–20 minutes of rest in between. But when those distractions turn into procrastination which then turns into a huge decrease in productivity, it becomes a real issue.
Any of this sound familiar? According to a CareerBuilder Survey, these are the top 10 productivity killers during the typical workday:
- Cellphones and texting-50%
- The Internet-39%
- Social media-38%
- Co-workers dropping by-23%
- Smoke breaks/snack breaks-27%
- Noisy co-workers-24%
Here are 6 ways to avoid those distractions (and become more productive):
Get rid of the clutter.
Look at your desk right now. See any papers that could be stored in folders rather than occupying space at your workstation? Cleaning up your workspace is almost like clearing out your mind; the less clutter, the more room you have to focus.
Turn off notifications.
It’s quite unrealistic to expect anyone to turn off their entire phone for the day, but just shutting off notifications to things like social media and email will help you avoid attending to your device each time it lights up.
Close your door.
Yes, there is a way to ‘shut off’ from the rest of the office in a polite way. If your day consists of waves of people just coming into your office, make it aware that you’re scheduling designated times for office visits.
Identify your zone.
Do you feel as though you’re able to focus more in the mornings? Try coming in a little earlier or if working remote, logging on a bit earlier and knocking out some pressing tasks on your plate. Use your time wisely by identifying your efficiency zones.
We think we’re great at multi-tasking, but the reality is…we’re not. When you’re inching toward that deadline for a certain project, make that the only priority on your desktop. Closing out all other Internet tabs will allow you to keep focus on one assignment.
Break it down.
Often, we can become distracted even before we begin something. This could be caused by the fact that the project simply seems too big to know where to begin. Break it down into smaller, easily achievable steps that will lead you to your end goal.
Hibernating in your work or home office with the door shut, phone turned off, headphones in, staring at your computer screen for eight hours is one extreme way to avoid any distraction, but you might feel isolated. Breaks are necessary and distractions can be too, when in moderation.
Try implementing one of the suggestions into your daily routine to help that to-do list get noticeably smaller.
Disclaimer: Please note that this is not all-inclusive. Our guidance is designed only to give general information on the issues actually covered. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all laws which may be applicable to your situation, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice, or render a legal opinion. Consult your own legal advisor regarding specific application of the information to your own plan.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.