Distractions are drowning our productivity at insane rate. Few days ago I was visiting a friend in his office and I've noticed his behavior was strange, like he is struck with ADHD. I know he's privately not like that, but while working he gets overloaded with information and caffeine that puts him in that kind of state. Constant interruptions are causing our mind to wonder around from one thing to the next, making us confused. In that state, we can't even figure out what's important or what isn't. Lots of us find peace at giving up a work for a while, which I also recommend. But instead of making breaks and loosing even more time I will talk about three major distractions: Email, Telephone and Instant messaging.
If you want to get your work done, shutting down these 3 can help you tremendously and reduce your stress levels. Less interruptions will make you calmer person. Beside that it puts you at soothing ease, which leads us to less strain. I will mention my friend again, who is drained after his working hours and I'll tell you why. Because he is suffering from all of major distractions and more of those, and when deadline is near and boss is over your head it's not that easy to relax. Of course, we can't fight all the distractions, but we can battle the three major ones.
Murder your email notifications - average corporate employee sends 34 and receives 99 emails per day. And from my own experience I know that there are tons of those junk email that help you relax, but those can also help you out procrastinate on what's really important. So if we turn off email notifications we will kill 99 distractions PER DAY! Researches have show that checking email throughout the day makes it extremely difficult to "achieve the psychological flow" necessary to work on complex tasks. Simple yet hard to achieve tip is to TURN OF THOSE EMAIL NOTIFICATIONS that pop up on your screen. Hell, I don't like anything popping out on my screen, you want to have it as clear and as calm as possible. And don't forget your Androids/BlackBerries/iPhones as well. By default Android phones have email notifications popping out, make sure you don't be the end user that doesn't know how to manage tools who are there to help him, not distract him.
Many of you are checking your emails too frequently, recommended quota of email checking is ONCE per day, but if you have constant correspondence with your peers about ongoing tasks, I recommend using filters. Gmail handles these perfectly. Bookmark your "work label" and don't check other "labels" within your mail. Filters are lifesaver. I have 10 active visible filters and number of hidden ones for later use. Quite often I don't even check those mails in unimportant filters, I just skim trough their headlines and "mark all as read", I believe that's what you should be doing also.
Murder your telephone – This is going to be the hardest task for many of you, but those people who really want to get things done and improve their performance, will follow me up on this one. Telephones and smartphones especially have this hugeeee amount of notifications, sms messages, pop ups, pop unders, beeps and bleeps, sounds that will make you go insane. Lately, I've seen far more rant about email than about telephone, but this is actually the number one reason why we get distracted 90% of the time. If you are a smart phone user, you need to be smarter than your phone. Don't make yourself available to people all the time. My friends absolutely hate this, but when I turn my phone on silent, if I don't answer my phone, voice mail will pop up. If it's extremely important, you will get the message. You have no ideas how many unimportant messages I've got from my mom, I prefer some of the calls unanswered for the sake of my peace. Sorry mom, but it's so true
Murder your instant messaging – I just love instant messaging, there's no denial about it, but when I am down to work, I find it disturbing to get pop ups from my Facebook or Skype friends. In some of my previous posts I've wrote about Digsby. My work requires me to be online on ICQ, but it's not favorable for me to be on other instant messengers it covers. You can turn some or even all of them simply by clicking disconnect, and it's like you're not even there in front of your computer.
Now that you've killed all those distractions on your desktop and your cell phone, I wish you productive and fruitful work.