On a typical Monday morning, you sit down on your designated seat behind your desk and stare at your computer screen. You do not immediately tackle on various assigned work tasks. No, of course not. You need to have the cogs of your brain well-oiled and properly working before you begin working on tedious tasks. So you go on about your usual work routine, doing the tasks delegated to you all the while allowing room for little things to sidetrack you and before you know it – voila! It’s already Friday! And you still have so much left to do in so little time. You’re left wondering just where did the time go.
Well, my friend, all those time allowances you made for diversions may seem nondescript and menial in comparison to the time you have allotted for work. But when you add them up, they can really accumulate and cost you valuable time in which you could have accomplished a pivotal task. It’s okay; you do not need to beat up yourself for it. Distractions at work are inevitable. Considering that the average attention span of an adult is approximately only five minutes and complement that with a work machine teeming with endless sidetracking capabilities, being distracted is not only a possibility but a guarantee.
However, making up for lost time is not as straightforward as getting back to the task at hand. Recovering the time you lost inescapably means attempting to retrieve the momentum you had lost before you were sidetracked and that is not always easy. That’s why distractions should be kept to a bare minimum. If you are looking for ways as to how, read on.
If you are working in a corporate setting, being equipped with a desktop computer is one of the many perks and getting sidetracked is almost a certainty. Perhaps while you are penning your report or making weekend plans, you are also browsing your friend’s vacation photos, watching a cat video on YouTube while the report you are to send is buried ten tabs beneath your current tab.
Change your mindset: The initial step in managing technological distraction is simply to acknowledge that these exist and that they derail you. To manage any type of distractions, you need to change your mindset. Get on your computer with having the best of intentions to work on the report.
Set a time limit: Set a time limit and be conscious of the time you are allotting for yourself and the task on hand. Let’s say you have designated thirty minutes on the task. Make sure the entire thirty minutes is spent on the report itself without having even just a single minute cruising on Facebook. Doing it this way will significantly increase your work productivity.
Take a stroll instead of a scroll: More often than not, staring at a computer screen for too long can cause stress and may affect your work productivity. Screen breaks are essential. However, most employees make the mistake of hovering over to social media whenever they are granted this opportunity. In doing so, they end up taking a break longer than they intended and lose the momentum they had built initially.
In lieu of a technological screen break, opt for something more refreshing instead. Give your eyes a break and take a five-minute stroll within the office. It helps you relax your eyes and mind and gives your legs that much-needed exercise as well. Just remember not to pause for a slight chit-chat on your way back.
Office chit-chat is healthy; it fosters cordial relationships with colleagues and generates inter-office friendships. However, too much social distractions at work can pave the way to work inefficiency. That’s why social interactions, albeit healthy for camaraderie, must be exercised within reason.
Have a sign: If you do not want to be interrupted, attach a sign to your work cubicle that says something like “Focus Mode” or “On a Deadline”. If it may seem rude, talk it over with your work group or your team and let them know that you are working on something crucial and would want to be interrupted as minimally as possible.
Ask them to email: Alternatively, you can ask them to email you instead especially when you are “in the zone” and cannot be interrupted. Follow them up in person afterward.
Discuss interruptions over coffee: You may have colleagues who are either too dense to take the hint or are simply big on gabbing. For these colleagues, discuss your concerns over coffee. Let them know firmly, while maintaining a gentle tone, that you have a lot on your plate that you need to get done.
Many people may not recognize this, but the very environment you work in such as your work cubicle can very much contribute to your work efficiency and productivity. You may not know it, but the unremarkable office clutter you have sitting atop your desk may contribute to the distractions sidetracking you from accomplishing important tasks.
Build a wall: It may make you seem like the standoffish colleague, but desperate times call for desperate measures. This is especially true in meeting deadlines. Modifying your work environment can help you deal with distractions. It is essential for you to create a visual cocoon for yourself if you can. If there be a need, create barriers that would assist you in keeping your eyes on your work and make you less accessible to outsiders. Try setting up plants, having a lamp between you and the outside world or stacking up books. The less opportunity for your eyes to wander, the better focused you will be.
The truth is, the office place itself is a place with copious opportunities for distractions – reading text messages, updating social media, getting wrapped up in office banter, etc. These are just a few of the things that may detract you from work and office productivity. Remember, these distractions do not only provide an avenue for a short “breaks.” Instead, the stress and frustrations they predictably cause you during deadlines keep you from being an effective worker. If you are already aware of what is keeping you deflected, gain a better traction at controlling the little impulses that prompt you to get sidetracked. In this way, you will have more done, be an efficient employee and have an overall great feeling about it.