It’s easy to get distracted at work, and unfortunately, we live in an age of distractions. Apps, gadgets, people and passions are constantly vying for our attention, which can leave us feeling distracted and unproductive. This lack of productivity can create a vicious cycle of deadline chasing, where we never give ourselves enough time to recharge, and therefore, can’t manage tasks with our full potential.
You might say, “Well, that’s just called working in the modern world.” It certainly can be, but it doesn’t have to be. If you can control distractions, then you can get more quality work done, and get out of the office sooner.
Read these 10 suggestions and take your first steps towards eliminating distractions at work. You just might wake up tomorrow morning feeling rested, motivated and focused.
1. Have a Schedule
It’s hard to avoid being distracted if you don’t have a work schedule. If your day is catch-as-catch-can, you’re going to be more susceptible to distractions. Without a roadmap, you’re more likely to take wrong turns. So, plan out your day, and stick to your plan.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Yes, it’s easier said than done. But sleep is the body’s natural mode of revitalization. Sleep is better than coffee for starting the day; it provides a spark that keeps you going strong.
Make an effort to fix your sleep schedule, and try to give yourself the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep. Okay, maybe closer to seven. But that means avoiding those things that can keep you up past your bedtime, like bad TV and stressing out over work.
3. Eat Healthy
Who has the time to eat healthy? Look, everyone gets cravings and peeks in the fridge when they need a break. But filling that metaphysical hole with junk food isn’t going to make you feel better. The body does require sustenance, and munching empty calories might provide temporary relief, but after that bag of Cheetos you’ll likely sink into a stupor.
When you get hungry have carrots, celery or fruit to tide you over until lunch. Then, if you can, pack a well-balanced lunch, or at least don’t stuff yourself on chicken wings, pizza or whatever fast food is convenient. If you eat right, you’ll feel right and stay focused during the afternoon.
4. Use Positive Distractions
Look, distractions aren’t a moral issue. They’re neither good nor bad; it’s how you use them. For example, if your desk is next to the sales force you might need a distraction. Salespeople are always on the phone. It’s their job. They talk and talk, seemingly forever, because they’re trying to stay in contact with potential clients and close deals.
Okay, great, but you still must do your job. So, why not listen to some music to drown out the noise? Put on your headphones, and find that soundtrack that keeps you motivated. Maybe use classical to get your head straight or heavy metal to get the blood flowing; choose whatever works for you.
5. Have a Clean Workspace
Is a cluttered desk the sign of a hard worker? Maybe. If that’s working for you, then you can skip this. But having a useful workspace, in whatever state of order, is essential to get the job done. If you don’t have a dedicated place to hunker down, then you’re not going to avoid distractions.
If you do have a desk, it usually helps if that office space is clean and well organized. Of course, feel free to decorate and find inspiration by personalizing your space with pictures or motivational sayings, but know how much is too much.
6. Put Blinders on Your Computer
Most of us work inches from a monitor, our fingers tapping on a keyboard. Computers are productivity machines that help us work more efficiently. However, they’re also the greatest distraction we’ll likely face on the job. There’s social media, movies, news, sports and more — all on one machine Who wouldn’t get lost in that wormhole? Therefore, you better set up some boundaries.
No social media, no unnecessary web searches and you should probably mute your email and even Slack, Skype or whatever means you use to communicate. Give yourself breaks to check in and make sure that you haven’t missed anything important. These breaks can serve as a carrot to get you through a period of intense focus.
7. Turn Off Your Phone
Your phone is just another computer that you keep in your pocket. The moment you feel that buzz of an incoming notification does your hand take hold of the device? Well, turn off notifications, shut the phone down and maybe store it in a bottom drawer until you’ve earned a bit of down time.
8. Use Your DVR
This one is for the sports fan. We know what it’s like. The big game is happening, and you’re a diehard fan. You need to show your support. Go team!
But when you’re at work, you need to focus on work so you can afford those season tickets. You can’t have that little voice in your head telling you to check the score. So, why not just record the game? You can fast-forward through the commercials, too.
9. Let People Know You’re Working
It should be obvious, but sometimes it’s best to state the obvious. Once you’ve scheduled your time to work hard, make that schedule public.
You can tell your coworkers that you don’t want to be disturbed over a period in the day when you’re going to focus on a specific task. You can add outgoing messages to your voicemail and email to let others know. You can even hang up a sign, if that’s what it takes to create your own cone of silence.
10. Know Your Habits
You’re not a machine. There will be times of the day in which you’re more likely to swallow the lure of distraction. So know your weak points, and exploit the strong ones.
Are you a morning person or a night owl? Use that time when you’re most focused to tackle your most difficult duties. Then when you’re naturally less productive, take a break and enjoy the goof-off period without guilt.
Another way to avoid distractions and increase focus is by having the right tools. With ProjectManager.com, a cloud-based project management software, you’re equipped to deal with anything work throws at you. Schedule more efficiently with online Gantt charts and monitor progress more accuracy with real-time dashboards. With ProjectManager.com, you’ll finish early and have more time to enjoy your distractions. Try it for yourself and see by taking this free 30-day trial.