We have reached week three of our work-life balance challenge, and today I want to talk about distraction.
Distractions come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe it’s the constant ping from your email, maybe it’s the chatty coworker, maybe it’s that inevitable draw from Facebook yelling, “check me! check me! check me!” Heck, maybe it’s all three. We all have these distractions in our lives, and when they pop up during our work day, they not only keep us from getting work done at that moment – duh – but they also throw off our groove (shout out to Emperor’s New Groove Fans!), pull us out of our mental focus, and reduce our productivity for the day. We need to shut off these distractions, and today I want to show you how with six simple strategies.
First: Prepare. Before you sit down for the day, prepare yourself. Have something to drink on your desk, make sure there’s a snack by your side, and gather all of the materials/supplies that you need to complete your task. Being prepared for the day is the first proactive step to preventing distraction.
Second: Turn Off Electronic Distractions. In a world full of instant notifications – watches that vibrate with each new text message, a different phone alert for every CNN update, tweet, email, or Facebook comment, and that physical pull to check your Instagram feed or Pinterest account, it’s a wonder that anyone gets anything done throughout the day. We must turn off these distractions to increase productivity. Full stop.
You know your willpower best…can you simply tell yourself, “Do not check social media.”? If so, I am in sheer awe of your willpower and kudos to you! Follow that rule throughout the day.
For all of us who cannot resist that urge, we might need a stronger tactic. Perhaps physically closing your browser will erase the temptation. I personally put my phone on “Do Not Disturb,” and I downloaded a free Google Chrome extension called “Work Mode” that does not allow you to open social media when it’s engaged. (It’s super simple, you literally click a button to turn it on and off) Sometimes when I’m particularly distracted, I even turn my computer off. Whatever you need to do to avoid that distraction – DO IT.
Third: Focus. As you sit down and begin your project, envision what you want to accomplish. Literally tell yourself, “I am going to focus on X for the next two hours.” Telling this to yourself helps put you in the mindset of tackling your project, and will help keep your mind from wandering.
Fourth: Write it Down. Keep a notepad next to you for when your mind inevitably does wonder. This is where you can write down all of the random to-do’s that pop in your head that – at the time – usually seem more urgent/interesting than the current task at hand. Write each of those thoughts down and tell yourself that after you finish your two hour block of time, you can work on your to-do list. This leads directly into step five.
Fifth: Take a Break. After you finish your block of time, allow yourself 15 or 20 minutes to check that Facebook account, scroll through your Instagram feed, or follow up on those text messages from your friend. Make sure, however, that you set a timer and get back to work after those 15 or 20 minutes; if you’re not careful, it is very easy to let that 15 minutes morph in to 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour…
Six: Repeat steps three through five. Continue these steps, allowing yourself breaks, until the end of your workday. When you remove all of these extra distractions, I’m willing to bet you’ll surprise yourself with the amount of work you accomplish throughout the day. And do you know what that means? You have more time at home to hang with your family, sit quietly with a good book, head to the gym, or whatever else you would like to do for play.
So that’s it for week three. Turn off those distractions, and surprise yourself with your productivity. Good luck!
How do you avoid distractions at work? What are your special tips or tricks? Let me know below, I’d love to hear them!