How To Avoid Distractions At Work (And Improve Your Focus)
Updated: Dec 6, 2020
Distractions are a part of life that we cannot entirely run away from. In small doses, it can actually be great. It allows us to take small breaks in between tasks, to refresh our minds and also to reduce stress.
However, as I am sure you will agree, too much of anything is never a good idea. When you are distracted and take away too much time from your work to deal with less important tasks, you can sabotage your own productivity.
As Wellbeing business owners, we wear multiple hats. From client appointments, back-office management to marketing, etc. It is easy to see how we can fall victim to distraction in our day to day operations. Distractions not only impact our focus, but they can also cause us to feel stressed and anxious. Which can lead to a loss of love for our business baby.
As hard as it may seem sometimes, it's important to avoid this cycle, but you’re not alone. Therefore, we must find ways to avoid distractions in order to be more focused and productive while working on our business.
Before we get into these tips, let's explore some ideas as to why we are so prone to distraction.
Running out of time to read further on? Not a problem :-) Click here to pin it for later reading. See what I did there…just adding a touch of productivity ;-)
It goes without saying that we live in unprecedented times where the opportunity to be distracted is everywhere. From our phones to our surroundings, there is no shortage of things competing for our attention.
In order to avoid distractions and be more focused, it is important that you first have a good understanding of why you experience distractions and what your triggers are. Only then can you effectively start to implement the tips that I will suggest below.
But before we dive in, it’s important to accept that distractions are OK. It happens to the best of us. When you do experience distractions while working, please don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead, give yourself the permission that you need and accept the fact that you cannot do it all.
Here is how to avoid distractions and be more focused at work:
Plan for success
You are more likely to avoid distractions when you have a plan in place. You can do this by being clear on your goals and then keeping them top of mind at all times. Do not just make big goals and fixate on them. You want to also figure out the actionable steps that will get you to your goal.
Set clear boundaries
It is important to set boundaries with those around you so that you are better able to manage your time.
One way to do this is by creating a daily recurring out of office email that reflects your desired working hours. This will go out to anyone that sends you an email. The purpose behind this is to set communication boundaries and remind people what your working hours are, and when you will be able to get back to them. This will also help to take the pressure away especially if you are someone that struggles to say no, and feel like you have to reply to everyone immediately.
Look into apps such as Rescue time to monitor your work behaviours to see what is eating up your time. This will help you to determine a better way to work going forward based on any unhealthy patterns or behaviours that require less time in your business
Allocate specific slots during your day/week for social media time.
Perhaps social media is a huge distraction for you. You can avoid this distraction by allocating time slots to perform the tasks that you need to on social media. Allocate time for interacting with your audience or replying to comments. By doing this, you will be able to stay on track for other important tasks throughout your day.
Use a timer or stopwatch on your phone to ensure you keep to these slots. Hey, you can always ask siri to track the time for you if you would like. However, if you intend to do this, set an intention and try your best to stick to it.
Focus on the most important tasks first
Instead of looking at a to-do-list of 20 tasks, try focusing on the most important tasks. I can already hear you saying “That's not possible- do you know how much I have on my plate at work?”
I hear you, but when you try to do too much in a day, you open yourself up to opportunities for distractions and ultimately burnout. According to research, our brains can’t actually cope with working on multiple things at a time. Doing this can cause your focus levels to slow down.
So, identify your highest priority tasks and limit yourself to focusing on the top 2-3 things on that list.
Turn off notifications on all devices while you work
Notifications are one of the biggest distractions that we face these days. They are everywhere and the urge to check and respond to every beep or buzz can slowly drain your productivity.
While it might seem insignificant to spend a few seconds responding to each notification, research has shown that when you get back to work, attention residue consumes additional time.
Attention residue is when thoughts about a task persist and intrude while performing another task. This means that for your brain, switching between tasks is not just as simple as flicking a switch on and off. For every minute that you spend on a different task, it takes another minute to refocus on the original task. This means that if you spend a minute checking notifications 10 times in an hour (which is reasonable for most people), you are in effect wasting
The solution? Avoid distractions by turning off your notifications.
For example, I check my messages at the end of the workday or first thing in the morning, otherwise, my Whatsapp goes silent throughout the day.
Clean up your space
Your physical space has a huge impact on your mental state and ultimately your productivity. You can avoid distractions by removing distracting things from your space. Make your space as tidy as possible and remove physical distractions such as your phone from your line of vision.
If your space allows it, you can also close the door or move to a different room so that you are not surrounded by people who can distract you.
For more tips on productivity and beating procrastination, check out my recent blog post.
Give yourself a break
Studies have found that breaks can reduce or prevent stress, help to maintain performance throughout the day and reduce the need for a long recovery at the end of the day.
When you take scheduled breaks throughout the day you are able to avoid distractions and stay more focused as you work.
You can really get a lot more done in your workday when you learn to avoid distractions and be more focused while working.
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