It’s crucial to learn how to work with focus, considering the many distractions luring us in every day.
You can use your calendar dutifully as a time management tool, but at the end of the day working with focus is what’s going to get things done.
Distractions are the nature of the beast in today’s fast-paced, digital world. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the amazing tools we have at our fingertips, until they interfere with our productivity and work-life balance.
That’s when we have to become ninjas at focus management and how we deal with distractions because distractions have many downsides. When we give in to distractions, we may:
■ Lose focus on our task at hand.
■ Forget where we left off when we stopped working.
■ Get pulled into someone else’s needs or goals at the expense of our own.
■ Feel like we didn’t get as much done as we wanted during our work hours.
■ Short ourselves on personal care.
There are two types of distractions that we need to be aware of — internal and external.
Thoughts: These include considering ideas for future projects; worries and concerns on your mind; tasks that you remember that you need to complete; negative self-talk; and self-doubt.
Body: This includes feeling tired, hungry, thirsty, too cold or too warm.
Phone: This includes all the phone entails such as calls, texts, voicemails, email, web searches, social media and, of course, games.
Face-to-Face Interruptions: This is when people ask you questions or chat with you or just are too loud around you.
Meetings: Any and all meetings falls under this — out of the office, in the office, phone or video conferencing.
Errands: Another tempting one to take advantage of short lines and better parking when you have a flexible schedule during the day. Or even stay home to catch up on housework.
Here are some solutions for many of the distractions listed above.
Thoughts: Get things out of your head and onto paper so you won’t forget anything. Talk out your worries and issues on the spot or agree to come back to them later for resolution.
Remind yourself of what your task is by saying, “Right now I am…” (Fill in the blank). Make sure you have everything you need to create a comfortable working environment with appropriate temperature.
Fuel yourself properly for hunger and thirst. Take breaks to stretch and breathe.
Make it your goal to work for 96 minutes without distractions each day to improve your productivity. This is 20 percent of an eight-hour work day.
That means turning off your phone, close your door if you have one and Standing while you are chatting with someone instead of sitting down.
As for meetings, attend only ones that affect you if you can help it and try phone or video conferencing if possible.
With errands, wait until your work is done before leaving your office. Tie an errand in with another task that requires you to leave your office.
If you work at home, make housework part of your breaks.
Distractions are going to happen, so you need to be armed with strategies to beat them. Be the boss of distractions so you can reap the rewards of increased productivity.