How To Minimize Workplace Distractions
Over 700 years ago, Francesco Petrarch wrote in Life of Solitude,
It is without question the nature of the mind that when it is earnestly applied to one interest it must neglect many others.
While staying focused might have been difficult then, it's harder then ever today. With technology, open office environments, and task lists a mile long, is it any wonder we can't seem to focus for more than a few minutes?
If you're one of those individuals who has trouble keeping their mind on one thing, try one or more of these strategies to focus on a task long enough to accomplish it (or at least make some real progress):
Manage Your Work Space
Are there visual distractions reminding you of unfinished work or other things to do? Even something seemingly harmless like a set of car keys can distract you. First you recall that you need to get gas after work. Then you think of some other items you need to purchase while you're heading home, and maybe even what you plan (or want) to have for dinner. Before long you can't even remember what you were focusing on five minutes ago!
Identify The Source Of Your Distraction
While some distractions may be external, others may be internal. It could be an unfinished task, frustration about something at work, or even guilt about something you said to someone in your family earlier in the day. While you may not be able to remove the distraction, ask yourself about what concrete action you could take to minimize it.
Turning off notifications isn't enough. Even the sight of your mobile devices can bring to mind something you saw recently on one of them. When possible, remove them from our view when you're trying to focus on the task at hand.
Block Out Background Noise
Your ears are ALWAYS looking for input. Music is an effective way to help block out office chatter or distracting sounds. Consider listening to music without words, however, to minimize the chance that the words to a song stir up memories from your past or take your mind somewhere else.
Hide When Appropriate
If it's impossible to purge your work area of distractions, relocate to a place with less activity. This is also important if coworkers, customers, or even your boss tends to interrupt you.
Communicate Your Plan
Don't assume that just because you look busy that your team will leave you alone. Take the initiative to explain why being able to focus is so important to your own productivity or the team's success.
Play "Ping Pong" With Your Tasks
Staying focused for long periods of time is difficult. After awhile your mind starts looking for distractions more intensely than ever. Switch between mental and physical tasks to give your mind a break.
Manage Your Energy
Focus requires that your physical, mental, and emotional energy be in sync. If staying focused is a consistent problem, determine which of these three is most limiting you and take steps to improve in this area.
Plan A Reward
As you find focusing becoming a habit, look for ways to extend the amount of time you spend on one task without switching. One effective technique is to plan a small reward like a few minutes on social media, handling a task that you really enjoy, or even a few bites of a healthy task.
If you found these tips of value, why not share them with your team? You can also download an infographic with the key ideas by clicking here.