A few of us are slightly stronger willed against distractions and interruptions at work, but in truth, we all get a little side-tracked once in a while. There are times when a distraction can be a good thing – like when you’ve been focused for a few hours, and in desperate need for a mind break – but there can be times when you to get consumed by a vortex of never-ending cat videos, or get sucked from one scholarly article to another. It helps when there are others around to keep you focused and motivated, but when you’re working solo, it can be easy to veer off into another unproductive direction. If you want to learn how to overcome distractions at work and master productivity, then you better pay close attention…
What does the research tell us?
In a fascinating interview with Gloria Mark, Ph.D., associate professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Gallup was given statistical insight on work distractions and how they affect varying employees.
Amongst 36 managers, financial analysts, software developers, engineers, and project leaders, Mark noted that it only took three minutes and five seconds for people to become sidetracked from a single event. That time was even less for people who got distracted by switching between different technological devices. This shows that small tasks quickly turn into day-long projects because multi-tasking and distractions are on the rise.
With the world moving at a consistently fast pace, it’s difficult to avoid distractions altogether. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to focus on one project or task (and complete it from start to finish) without veering off to do something else that might be equally productive, or not productive at all. That’s why we suggest that you incorporate these 5 tips into your daily routine so that you can overcome distractions at work and master productivity.
5 Ways to Overcome Distractions at Work and Master Productivity
Reassess your priorities
Distractions are a result of improper priority arrangement. The things that we value the most are given our immediate and undivided attention. If you’re letting yourself become distracted before any real work gets done, give yourself a moment to think about what it is you value and find important. Are you being lazy or selfish? Is that why you think it’s OK to allow distractions into your work space?
There are many ways to organize your priorities. Perhaps you work on a basis of deadlines, or it you might complete tasks in a matter of importance or significance. Whatever it may be, you need to figure out what it is that matters and why you’re putting a majority of your effort into it. Make a list and write down what you need to complete for the day. Know what HAS TO be done, and what you can sacrifice to fall on the wayside for tomorrow.
When it comes to distractions, there are a number of things that you can generally predict. There is no doubt that you’ve been distracted before and you should know better than anyone on what things peak and do not peak your interest.
Take note of your habits and anticipate what kind of distractions you are likely to encounter. Are you a daydreamer or a social media enthusiast? Or perhaps you’re a social butterfly and constantly have friends and family messaging you. Pinpoint what your distractions are and try to eliminate the source. If you must, put your messages on silent for the afternoon.
Plan, do, execute!
A poorly written plan or schedule can also be a huge factor in how often you become distracted. Before you start your work day, you need to know what deadlines you have on the agenda. If you know it’s going to be a jam-packed day, divide your day by the hour and jot down what it is that needs to be done before then.
Generally, it’s better to plan less and know that you can get it done rather than planning more that you thin you can get it done. But once you’ve overcome that hurdle, and planned your day, do it, execute the task successfully, then take another look at your schedule and see where you stand. Are you ahead or behind schedule? If you’re ahead of schedule, then this next tip should fit right into your free time…
Schedule a distraction time
One of the best ways to avoid a distraction is to not ignore it, push it aside or fight against it, but to embrace in a timely matter. We only become consumed by distractions because we want to, or because we believe we have enough time to spare; but sometimes you don’t have that extra time.
Sometimes you can severely underestimate the amount of time you’ve spent on doing other unproductive things. So instead of “seeing how it goes” or assuming you have the extra time, why not allot yourself time to get distracted? Set aside 10 or 15 minutes after two hours of consistent work. Or find a schedule that works for you – just don’t abuse the power and allot yourself an unnecessary amount of time. Stagger these “mini” breaks throughout your work day so that you’re keeping track of your distraction time.
Find a place and space that works for you
You might not realize it at first, but a big contributor in your productivity depends on where you are physically. You probably don’t get full control of where you’re physically situated at work, but maybe there’s something about the space that you can alter so that you don’t get distracted.
One trending method that keeps you on your toes during the work day is the use of a standing desk. Have you ever tried it? Do you think you might get more completed on your list by changing up the environment this way? A standing desk not only reinvents the work space, but also promotes for a healthier body in the office with increased blood flow and more use of body during the day.
But perhaps a standing desk is not what you need, and what you need to do is minimize the clutter on your desk to concentrate. You have to find a physical area that works for you and your mind. Rearranging your work space can help you refocus and concentrate on what matters.
Don’t blame yourself if you get distracted at work often. Sometimes all it takes are a few small adjustments. Distractions are simply about what mind frame you are in. If you want to achieve greater focus in your life, and be a master at productivity, than all you have to do is put your mind to it.
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