Modern technology, open plan offices, instant messaging, the list of distractions is endless. They’ve all contributed to our poor concentration levels and ability to be distracted easily. We seem to find it difficult to focus on one thing for very long and this plays havoc with our productivity. Research by the University of California Irvine study, has shown that it can take on average 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain our focus after being distracted. Therefore, if this is happening regularly, our work rate will really suffer.
So, what can we do to minimise our distractions? The best way is to address the worst culprits;
Most of us, receive our emails to our smart phones. We also have apps for our Social Media accounts, we receive instant messages, texts, group messages, we can go online instantly. Smart phones are a major source of interruptions and distractions. When we’re trying to work, the only way to stop getting distracted by them is to turn the phone off or set the “do not disturb” feature in your settings. This will probably be hard to cope with at first, as our phones have become such an integral part of our lives but the increase in productivity will be worth it.
Whether it’s email or Social Media notifications, the sound and visual alert when we receive a new message or are tagged into a discussion, is extremely distracting and you need to be a strong person to ignore them. The only solution is to log out of your Social Media accounts or edit your notifications, to stop receiving a sound for every notification. Similarly, with emails, you can log out of your inbox or edit how you receive new message alerts, to turn off the sound and desktop alerts, if necessary. You can then decide on a policy for checking your emails at certain times of the day only, rather than being tempted to check every message when you are alerted that it has been received.
When we find ourselves procrastinating about a certain task, the solution often seems to be to go to our favourite search engine and look for holidays etc. Before we know it, an hour has passed and we still haven’t found the holiday of our dreams. It is not practical to work without the internet, so the best solution to this particular distraction would be to allow yourself a browsing session at a certain time of the day, as a break and a reward for completing a certain task. This way your internet use becomes more structured instead of aimless browsing, which wastes too much time.
Open plan offices
If you work in an open plan office you will know how distracting they can be, especially if you work with someone that loves to chat and involve everyone in their decision making about their private life. We are social creatures and conversation is good for us but if it is a constant distraction, it might be time to plan some time in a quiet office or work from home for part of the week. This way you will be able to really focus on certain projects.
Hopefully, this has made you think about the constant daily distractions that we all face and how to deal with them. As the best way to increase our productivity is to really focus on our work.
How do you minimise distractions? – You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Till Next Time
Mike Gardner Is ‘The Time Doctor’