6 TIPS FOR MANAGING DISTRACTIONS
Notice that I did not say that I would tell you how to eliminate distractions, but I will tell you how to manage them. Distractions by their nature are often unanticipated and sometimes out of your control. It is unrealistic to imagine that we have the capability to eliminate all of them, but you can absolutely reduce, diminish and accommodate them, and that is both realistic and beneficial.
Researchers in a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that just a mere 2.8 second interruption doubled errors among the subjects. Essentially, they lost their place in the task they were engaged in and sometimes took a full minute to reset themselves and get on track. That is a real productivity killer.
PLANNING AND PREPARATION
Start your day the day before. Write the specific tasks and significant goals you are aiming to accomplish the next day, and focus on what information you need, what resources must be available and approximately how much time each one will take. And don’t forget to include travel time. That way, whether you will be in the office, working from home or traveling, you will start in the morning with a clear picture of what a successful day will look like by evening.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Most of us don’t get to decide where we sit or if we get an office or a cubicle. Take inventory of the space, the light, the sounds of people walking by or talking on phones, of printers, vending machines and doors and of the frequency of colleagues who wander by for no-notice drop in visits. Use lower wattage bulbs, white noise devices, headphones and perhaps some sound absorbing material to lessen the impact each one can have. And if you have a door, close it from time to time. It’s OK.
ARE YOU THE DISTRACTION?
Your job requires most of your attention, but if you are preoccupied with an impending move, a child leaving for college, or a tough financial challenge, it is unlikely that you will be really present to do your best at work. Make time early in the morning, at lunch, on a plane, or at the end of the day to really focus on your personal issues, and don’t let them cause you to take your eye off the ball to make the sale, create the presentation or negotiate an agreement. Both your job and your personal life will turn out better if you aren’t trying to be in two places at once
It is obvious that eating is necessary, but don’t just grab whatever is handy and think that you have checked this box. Eating enough and well are essential. Include fruits and vegetables, limit fried and heavily processed food, drink plenty of water, but very little soda or high caffeine energy drinks, and employ portion control – especially for sweets and salty snacks. You’ll find that your mind won’t wander and your eyes won’t get heavy during that long meeting.
MANAGE YOUR TIME
The alternative is to let time manage you. Even if you have a full plate, you cannot work continuously without compromising your effectiveness. Set alarms so you can get up and walk around, grab some water, or just change the scenery. If the weather permits get outside for awhile and breathe deeply as you walk. And move methodically from task to task so you are not buried in a single subject for hours at a time.
EMPLOY SELF DISCIPLINE REGARDING SOCIAL MEDIA
You probably know that you spend too much time on social media. You can take back control, but only if you decide that it is important. Rank the social media sites you spend time on and I would strongly encourage you to eliminate at least one. Yep, drop it. There are only so many hours in a day. Then assign how much time you will budget for the others and keep track. Stick to your reasonable time allotments using alerts on your phone and when time is up, STOP! No-one can make you do this, so you need to be your own boss here. If you do, I predict you could recover up to an hour a day. Think of that!