It’s widely recognized that constant interruptions decrease productivity, which is largely dependant on focus and concentration. But in today’s busy work environment, what can you do to minimize distractions and increase your focus? Here are six easy steps.
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- Make a list: Believe it or not, the simple act of making a to-do list can be one of the most powerful tools in your fight against distractions. How so? Lists give you a sense of purpose, a goal to strive for. When distractions come along, a quick glance at your to-do list can help you get back on track. Besides, there’s nothing better than the sense of accomplishment that comes from looking back at the end of the day and seeing that you accomplished many or all of the things you set out to do that day.
- Close computer programs when you’re done with them: Ever find that you’ve got so many programs open that you can’t find the one you’re looking for? We’re all guilty of this at times. Get into the habit of closing all but the program you’re currently working in. Exception: If you will regularly be in and out of certain programs throughout the day, it’s actually counter-productive to close and re-open them. But as a general rule, the fewer programs you have open at once, the better.
- Wear headphones: If your employer allows it, wearing headphones without the music on can be a great way to avoid distractions. Doing so helps to shut out background noise. And it sends a clear message that you should only be interrupted if it’s really important.
- Say no to email: Most of us can’t avoid email completely. But if your circumstances permit, try reading and responding to email only at set times during the day, such as first-thing in the morning, mid-morning, and right after lunch. Keep your email program closed the rest of the time. This can give you a huge boost in productivity by providing large windows of time to focus on a certain task.
- Say no to clutter: A messy desk provides built-in distractions. After all, if every time you look for a pencil your eye sees bills to be paid, letters to be answered, and reports to be read, you’ll automatically start thinking about all of those things instead of whatever it was that you were working on. Worse yet, a cluttered desk decreases motivation. There’s just something about clutter that drains your energy. So try this experiment: Grab an empty box and put everything in it—except for your computer and phone. Now hide the box away somewhere, and start working.
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You’ll be amazed at the amount of energy and focus you’ll have! Why does this work so well? Because as the old saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Thus, when the only thing you see is the task you’re currently working on, you’re ability to focus skyrockets. Then once you’ve gained some steam, you can go back to the box and process those items, too.
- Say no to your own distractions: Let’s face it: When it comes to creating distractions, sometimes we’re our own worst enemy. A little email here, a YouTube video there, a few Tweets in between, and before you know it you’ve lost 30 minutes of valuable work time. Resist the urge to do these personal things during working hours. Promise yourself that you’ll set aside a few minutes for it at lunch or after work. Not only will you be more productive during work, but you’ll also have something to look forward afterwards!
Source: William Hook
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The main point here is that distractions usually cannot be completely eliminated. But with a little forethought, they can be minimized. So pick a few of the above suggestions and try them today. You’ll be glad you did!