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8 Productivity Tips to Avoid Distractions While Working
The modern workplace has changed drastically over the years. With the advent of powerful computers and smart devices, the same tools we use to complete work-related tasks are also used for recreation during downtime.
Staring at a computer monitor at work and at home can lead to fatigue and, now more than ever, this can lead to times where you just cannot help but get distracted. According to a Gallup study, the U.S. loses between $450 and $550 billion every year from lost productivity.
With distractions on the rise in workplaces around the country, here are 8 surefire tips to keep you on task and focused. We’re sure you’ll find yourself feeling more productive after implementing these.
1. Set Goals and Deadlines, and Keep Them in Mind
It’s much easier to tackle everything on your plate when you have a clear idea of just what it is that you have to accomplish.
From there you can itemize your schedule, estimate and track the time each task will take, and gauge whether you can realistically finish everything.
While some people can in fact internalize this on the fly, it’s a good habit to put this into writing. Even just quickly jotting down on paper what you have to do can be efficient and helpful. Just make sure you commit it to active thought.
2. Schedule a Regular Break
Even though you’re trying to be more productive, the key to staying focused is in fact consistency.
If you’re constantly thinking about something unrelated, or when your next stop gap will be, it’s going to eat into your time to be productive. Cognitive research has shown that taking regular breaks during long tasks makes you more productive compared to not doing so.
3. Cut Down on Traditional Meetings
Meetings are the bane of productivity. They take everyone involved out of the workflow, and the issues can often be addressed in memos or other more brief communication methods.
Not every meeting results in a necessary dialogue, and meetings can put a stopper on breakthroughs and momentum.
When meetings are absolutely required, standing meetings are preferable. For sedentary workplaces, holding a brief standing meeting can get everyone into a different mindset compared to positioning everyone in seats in a less involved environment. In the end, as long as the same objectives are achieved, it’s best to take the most productive route to the same goal.
4. Stop Trying to Multitask
Multitasking is actually far more counterproductive than you probably realize.
You actually do two or more tasks slower and less effectively than you could do one. While it may seem as if you’re saving yourself time and accomplishing more, trying to multitask has more downsides than positives.
If you focus 100% on one task, and ensure it’s done correctly, you reduce the time you need to spend checking over your work or correcting problems later on down the line. While you may feel that you can do two things at the same time, it’s best to complete one task fully before moving onto the next.
5. Put the Phone on Silent
In many workplaces, more time is spent checking email and voicemail than on any other task during the work day. When you simply need to get work done, this is completely counterproductive.
If you’re taking regular breaks during your work tasks, then allot some time to check communications. Of course it’s also important to keep abreast of any situation that might develop, but in general you shouldn’t be constantly hovering by the intercom.
6. Use Your Commuting Time Effectively
If you’re one of the many who have a lengthy commute to work by bus, train or the subway, chances are you’re not using that time effectively to make your work day easier. While many simply browse apps or check the news, it’s often the perfect time to answer that email you received after hours the previous day.
Itemizing your tasks and planning your workload for the day can a great head start and make you much more productive later on. The time you spend on your commute could be the missing piece to ending the day a bit further ahead than you’re used to.
7. Take an Exercise Break for Your Well-Being
Being productive has just as much to do with your general health as it does with your state of mind. Regular exercise has been proven to improve your sense of well-being and clear your head. Changing your scenery and getting some fresh air when time allows can get you returning to your work with much clearer senses.
Taking time out for the gym before or after work, or taking a little extra walk during your commute, can also show results in your clarity of mind and how you approach your work. You don’t have to do anything drastic, but just try it and gauge the results accordingly.
8. Surround Yourself with Appealing Decorations
Research studies have shown a correlation between decorations in one’s office and increased productivity. Take some plants, pictures, or anything appropriate and decorate your office. You may think that decorations could be a distraction in themselves, but as long as it’s nothing too disruptive you’ll merely surround yourself with pleasant items. This can improve your peace of mind compared to the drab and non-stimulating environment of your usual workplace. Do whatever makes sense but, above all, keep it fresh.
Although they have made us more productive overall throughout the years, recently smartphones have in fact been cutting into our productivity. Though every workplace is different, each individual has to take their own measures to ensure they’re able to keep focused when the time calls for it. Technology can only be one of our means to do so.
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About the Author
Nick Rojas combines 20 years of experience working with and consulting for small to medium business and a passion for journalism to help readers grow. He writes about technology, marketing, and social media for the aspiring entrepreneur. @NickARojas.