Distractions are bane of efficiency and that’s why I am bane of distractions. They have a mean habit of sneaking up behind your back when you least expect them! They will try to remain unnoticed, until you figure out that you have 2-3 more hours till you finish that report, or preparation for that exam.
I am waging a war, war against distractions. It’s funny how word distraction is kinda similar to destruction. It certainly is destruction of my concentration and my workflow. Distractions are the number 1 enemy. There are all kinds of distractions, some even appear as good, while other are just bad altogether. In order to beat the enemy we need to know who he is in the first place, so here’s the list of common distraction villains:
#1 Phone calls – I have this hatred toward my phone and I am diligent in executing my strategy in order to maintain that good relationship between me and my phone. In order to do so, I need only to do one thing: Shut the volume down. If you have landline beside your desk, pick up the phone and make it unavailable. It’s called busy signal for a reason!
#2 Text messages – Now this kind of distraction is something I consider a distraction even when I am not doing anything, I’ve completely turned off sound notifications for text messages.
#3 Instant Messaging – This is just another way of people being able to reach you. When your face is sitting there available with green light, people are highly likely just gonna drop by and say hi. There is time and place for that and it isn’t when you are in the middle of your workflow. If you need to appear online for some reason, use Instant messaging on your phone or tablet and turn off the sound, so it doesn’t bother you.
#4 Email – As many of you, I am also guilty of this distraction crime, checking your email, while doing something less is highly
#5 Chat Notifications – Shut that Skype down! Seriously, didn’t you notice how many time people that show up online popout? I find it easier to shut it down completely than looking for a way to minimize the threat of it pinging me that XYZ, that I don’t even know showed up online. It might be a brief second, but it’s enough for your mind to breeze and is nowhere near zen state of mind.
#6 Social Media – Checking Google+, Twitter and Facebook while taking a “break” is something that I do not recommend. If you need a break, walk away from the computer. If you still want to check your Social outlets / email, walk away from the computer and check them on the phone, while taking a walk. Don’t forget to turn off the sound on your phone when you come back.
Disclaimer: I am not implying that you should wage a war against your coworkers, your boss or family. I am simply suggesting how you should avoid distractions during your working period 🙂
#7 Coworkers – People tend to be selfish about themselves and put their needs on the first place. Coworkers will approach you and ask for help with something, while you are in the middle of the job. If it’s private, ask them politely to ask you about that outside of working hours, if
#8 Your Boss – This is one of those tricky distractions to avoid, so it should be threated differently from other external distractions and requires fine tuning. It’s hard to avoid distraction once it happens, especially in the workplace. But if you are consistent at what you do, simply saying to your boss: “I will get back to you when I am finished with this important paper that I am working on right now”, will be good enough. It’s for him either way, so he won’t complain much.
#9 Your Family – We are always available to our families and that is alright. But what to do, when family members come out at us with silly demands? I know about this one from the other side, as being a kid, calling my father during his work for dumbest little things that meant the world for me. He always had one sentence that brought him out of any thinking about it: “We will talk about that when I get home”, and just hangs up after that. Works like a charm.
#10 Your clients – I am quite sure you had that nagging client that consistently asks weather his web design is finished, or having a huge list of inquires of the project that you are completing for him. Tim Ferris, author of the “4 hour workweek”, claims that 20% of your clients are generating 80% of your revenue. Sometimes it’s better to deal with those couple of clients by means of firing them, rather than becoming their slave.
Consider saying no and loosing a client, because it interferes too much with the rest of your work.
#11 Procrastination – Of all distractions, I am perhaps most guilty of this one. Especially during my school days. Homeworks were left for the last minute, preparations for exams were done the night prior to the test itself… And so on… Why was I leaving everything for the last minute? Because of lack of motivation and considering that the task wasn’t challenging enough, but than I would sweat an evening before and cursing myself for miss judging the situation.
It is one of harder distractions to cope with, because we do not recognize it as such. But if something is keeping you further away from your goals, it’s a distraction for sure. Main weapon that will help you wage a war against this nasty habit is simple: MOTIVATION.
#12 Miss prioritization – You have no idea how you didn’t figure it out earlier, but you did all the tasks on your to do list, except from the most important one. This is one of the critical tips that I can give you in this article. Fighting against tasks that add little or no value to your goals is one of the ultimate time savers.
#13 You are hungry – Physiological needs often occur on subconscious level. You’ve set your table up for work and you are amped and ready, but in the middle of work, you get hungry. In this case I certainly do not recommend eating, because it will interfere with your focus on the task at hand. What I do recommend is skipping food altogether. If you have problems focusing because of huge hunger, cheating your mind into feeling full with some light chewable food.
#14 You need to go to the toilet – There is no workaround to this problem, but you might considering going to the toilet before hand, especially before you hit the workflow. In order to prevent this happening while you work, you might consider monitoring your intake of coffee and tea, because they are forcing you into bathroom.
#15 You are too tired – This happens to me, if I leave some boring work for the evening. It is imperative that you know your mind and your body and how your energy levels work. You want to save your highest energy peaks for most productive work. It is not a bad thing if you check Facebook, right after you eat something for example, because your blood is not going to your brain either way, but rather to your bowls. So that time by itself is productivity downtime. So plan to use those downtimes for distracting things.
What distractions are troubling you the most? How do you deal with them? You are welcome to leave your thoughts in the comments.