Interruptions may seem like no big deal—until they end up taking most of your time. A study revealed that work distractions can be quite difficult to recover from. If you try to resume a task immediately after getting interrupted, you’re prone to make much more errors. Moreover, frequent distractions also disrupt your productivity and mess with your work schedule.
Each workday comes with all kinds of distractions. But you can navigate through them with these tips.
Schedule Your Tasks Properly
You’re more likely to get distracted if you don’t have a proper schedule. Before getting to work, take the time to plan your day. You can try to use an organizer or a to-do list to jot down your specific tasks for the day. This scheduling method makes big projects seem less overwhelming. And since these small tasks are easier to handle, you’ll be more likely to stay focused on accomplishing them. It’s also important to schedule a proper time for reading and sending e-mails. If you respond to these messages instantly, you’ll be interrupted from your task. Instead, try responding to e-mails only during specific times or after finishing a small task.
Set Up Boundaries with Social Media
Speaking of responding to e-mails, you also need to refrain from responding to social media messages. Replies may seem harmless, but they can be a big distraction. You might end up continuing a conversation or scrolling down your feed to look at posts. This alone can eat up so much of your workday. To avoid this bad habit, try to put your phone in silent mode. You can even download focus apps, like Freedom or Serene. These apps will block websites and other apps during your specified timeframe, so you can avoid opening them during work hours.
Make Your Workspace More Conducive For Work
Is your desk starting to get a little messy? Well, you should start organizing your work area because a study conducted by Princeton University revealed that clutter can affect your focus. Your brain’s visual cortex gets overwhelmed by objects that are irrelevant to your task, so this can lengthen the time that it takes to complete a project. And to make your workspace even more conducive, this article states that you can invest in ergonomic accessories. These are especially useful since body aches and pains can reduce your productivity. So, for example, to prevent getting distracted from neck strains, invest in monitor stands or wrist rests. By making your space more conducive for work, you can become less distracted.
Block Out the Noise
Disorganized clutter and uncomfortable work accessories aren’t the only distractions caused by an improper workspace setup. This survey revealed that over 50% of workers were interrupted by noise five times in a working day, while 17% were affected more than ten times per day. Workplace strategist Dr Nigel Oseland stated that more companies are adopting open-plan designs to promote collaboration, but this may not be suitable for everyone. While extroverted workers may be more tolerant of this noise, introverts are more likely to be distracted. So if you belong to the latter group, you can try to invest in noise-cancelling headphones to block out the sounds. You can also opt for sound-absorbing acoustic desk dividers, which can reduce noise and give you privacy as well.
Work Alongside Productive People
As previously stated, extroverts may prefer the open-plan workspace design because it allows them to communicate and collaborate with other people. So if you’re the type who feels more energized in the presence of others, you can boost your productivity by working alongside productive colleagues. These productive individuals can influence you to become more focused on the task ahead. Moreover, these individuals will not only inspire you to become more productive, but they are also less likely to distract you during busy work hours. Thus, you can become less distracted due to the habits of the individuals surrounding you.
Keep Your Emotions in Check
Stress and other negative emotions can be distracting at work. These emotions are unavoidable because workers often have to face tight deadlines and big projects. However, learning how to navigate through these emotions will help you become a more productive worker. We at Oxford CBT recommend that you try being kinder to yourself to reduce work stress. This means that you need to let go of any unrealistic expectations you are placing on yourself. Instead of checking previous tasks over and over again or ruminating over past mistakes, concentrate on your current project. This will help you move forward with a more positive mindset.
Take Necessary Breaks
If you noticed that you’re becoming more distracted during a certain period, it may be time to take a break. Though it may sound counterintuitive, these breaks are necessary to refuel your brain and take care of your needs. After all, you may become more distracted because your needs aren’t met. Thus, take this opportunity to leave your desk and to walk around your space. You can even take a nap or eat a quick snack! Afterwards, you’ll surely feel more energized and motivated when you work on the next task on your to-do list.
Practice Proper Self-Care
You can also become distracted at work because of poor health and lifestyle habits. It can truly be difficult to concentrate on your tasks, especially if you feel sleepy and sluggish due to fatigue. Similarly, you won’t be able to focus properly whenever you’re feeling sick. Thus, you must practice proper self-care so that you can give your best to every task at hand. Remember to drink at least eight glasses of water and to consume a balanced diet so that you can maintain your health. Of course, you have to get enough sleep so that you’ll feel more refreshed and energized for the workday.
Distractions can stretch out your workday more than necessary. To improve your productivity, you need to practice proper time management, make changes to your workspace setup, and take care of yourself. After addressing your needs and preferences at work, you can become a more productive worker.
Interested in ensuring you are looking after your employees? Our Mental Health First Aid Training Course is essential for any business that want to look after their employee’s health. For more information, please get in touch.
Exclusively written for OxfordCBT.co.uk by Julian Rose