Distractions are everywhere. Just when you settle down to do some serious work, your phone vibrates immediately shifting your attention from the task at hand to whatever notification it is you have received. Or perhaps a colleague stops by and end up speaking about anything but work for a full twenty minutes.
There is no denying that distractions impact your productivity every single day! If you can’t break the habit and block out the distractions around you, you can never achieve your most productive state.
Not only are these distractions costly for you as an individual, but they can affect the team, and indeed the entire company or organization you work for. So, how do you block out all those distractions and learn to focus on your work?
Here is how to stay productive despite the countless distractions you may encounter.
1) Make a Productive Start
Have you ever heard it the saying that if you lose an hour in the morning you will spend the entire day looking for it? Nothing spells the importance of making a productive start better than this maxim.
Morning hours are precious. Treat them as such and watch everything else fall into place. If you can focus on getting a good start to the day and tick off a number of key tasks in the morning then you stand a good chance of maintaining that productivity throughout the day.
Not only that, research shows that people are most productive in the morning. It is therefore ideal to tackle larger and more complex tasks at the start of the day. That way, as the day wears off and your natural productivity levels decrease you’re not fighting the clock to complete a key task on time.
2) Cut The Distractions
If you want to concentrate on your work, you must proactively get rid of all the distractions. This means writing them down and then taking steps to remove them from your working environment. And where it is not possible to remove the distractions from your sight, then you should consider changing your location to avoid the distractions.
Is it the constant beeping of your phone that won’t let you work in peace? Then turn the device off. Or you could also block notifications from the applications that demand your attention every so often.
Or maybe you are distracted by the continuous chattering of your workmates. Rather than stay in that location, book a quiet location from where you can work without any distractions.
3) Work in 30- 60 Minutes Blocks
It is no use convincing yourself that you can work for hours on end without taking a break. The human brain simply does not function that way. It is important that you take periodic breaks from your work to recharge and then return to the tasks refreshed.
You could purpose to take a break once every 30 minutes, or even 45 minutes to revive yourself. During your break, you can take a walk around the block, or grab a cup of coffee. You could even take that time to catch up on office gossip as a treat for your hard work.
However, make sure that your breaks are only a few minutes long. Anything longer than that starts to eat into time that is better spent on being productive.
4) Leave Your Inbox
Do you ever feel a compulsive need to check your inbox every few minutes? If that is the case, then your inbox is certainly one of your greatest distractions at work.
You must learn to restrain yourself from looking at and responding to your emails as soon as they arrive. Why, most of the time those emails do not require your immediate attention. If you stop every ten or so minutes to look at your inbox that is a few extra minutes of wasted time every half hour.
In addition to that, you stop the task you are working on a break the flow of productivity you were experiencing. If you must check your email a good strategy to adopt is to look at the end of the 30 or 60 minute block of time you work in. That way you are regularly on top of your emails without breaking that period of focus.
5) Don’t Procrastinate or Let Your Mind Wander
Although most distractions come from our surroundings, there are some that come from within. Have you ever found yourself repeating a task a million times simply because you were not paying attention the first time? This is a clear sign that you are distracted from within.
Try to block out your own internal distractions while working. You must also not get into the habit of procrastinating, as this can be a rather costly habit. If there is a task you need to complete within a given time frame, it is often better just to dive in and get going. After ten or so minutes you will find that you are fully engaged in the task and any of the issues you were concerned about previously have been put to the side.
This is a guest post. Paul Towers is the Founder and CEO of Task Pigeon, a productivity and task management application for teams. In this post, Paul looks at the impact distractions can have on your daily productivity.