Distractions are everywhere. Distractions take people’s attention away from both work and leisure, and many people might find it difficult to squash them and refocus. Because people can be distracted by almost anything, there’s no surefire way to eliminate distractions from life.
Still, there are a few techniques that employees can implement to ensure they’re doing an excellent job at work without worrying their productivity is falling due to endless distractions.
1. Take One Task at a Time
Multitasking can make some projects seem entirely undoable. Sometimes, when people hit a roadblock, they’re tempted to jump to another task or take a quick break by doing something else. While this technique might work for some people, it can disrupt the workflow for others. It might be more difficult to return to the original project once they complete a simpler task in between.
As difficult as it is, employees should try to tackle one task at a time before moving on to something else. Taking a break might be an excellent idea if they can’t power their way through a job. Still, learning to push through a difficult task can benefit employees in the future – they’ll know they can push past anything standing in their way.
2. Set Aside Time for Distractions
Everyone needs to take a break while they’re working. Working straight through the day will likely leave an employee feeling burned out and reluctant to perform just as well in the future. Sometimes, distractions are necessary to keep a person’s brain fresh and ready to work.
Distractions can free up space in the brain and allow employees to look at a situation from a new perspective once they return to work. A new, creative solution may pop into their heads before they even return to their desk. Having time for distractions can be great, as long as it’s managed healthily and doesn’t take away from the rest of the hours designated for working.
3. Break Goals Up
Longer projects may require more time staring at a screen, which humans just aren’t made for. People may feel more prone to distractions the longer they stare at a screen without any goals being reached. Breaking a huge project into smaller, more actionable goals can help employees feel like the finish line is within reach.
A project might naturally fall into several steps or someone may have to break it up themselves. Employees know what’s doable for them and should be able to break tasks down to a manageable amount for them. Once goals and projects are broken down, an employee can work toward the final goal while paying special attention to each step.
4. Eat the Frog
Some people may find it difficult to get motivated in the morning. Many people should try to “eat the frog” – doing their most daunting task first when they get to work so they can do it during their most efficient hours – so they can set themselves up for success for the rest of the day. Once the hardest task is out of the way, a person only needs to focus on slightly easier tasks for the rest of the day.
If an employee tries to do the most challenging task first thing in the morning, they can feel relieved that they no longer need to worry about it once it’s done. They’ve spent a lot of energy on the most challenging aspect of their day and now they can relax while completing tasks they may see as less difficult.
5. Release Pent-Up Energy
Sometimes, fidgeting is inevitable. An employee can rely on a small exercise device, such as weights or pedals, under their desk to help them constructively release any pent-up energy. They might also choose to set daily step goals, which can help them step away from the screen for breaks and benefit their health in several ways.
Releasing energy doesn’t have to be distracting or take away from work as long as employees have planned times when they get to move around.
6. Get Better Sleep
When people don’t sleep well, their focus is easily divided. Sleeping well doesn’t take place in the office, but it’s an easy way that employees can manage their energy throughout the work day.
Distractions can take up to two or more hours of each work day. Because people are more easily distracted when they’re tired, it’s a good idea for all employees to have a set bedtime, so they’re getting the recommended hours of sleep to keep them happy and healthy, both mentally and physically.
7. Check Things in Batches
An employee may want to pause a task just to do something small and mundane. While it might give them a break away from the project they’re currently working on, it can disrupt their workflow. Just doing a quick check of an email inbox or something similar can result in a 40% productivity loss due to multitasking.
To remedy this loss, an employee can set aside a few pockets of time every day to check things in batches. If they need to check their email, they can do it while also checking their team’s to-do list or instant messages. By batch-checking the small things, they can give their brain a mental break from more challenging tasks, but they won’t waste time while they’re working on current projects.
8. Set Time Limits
One of the best ways for employees to challenge themselves is to set time limits that they should work towards cutting down on. If they analyze their current working habits, they’ll be able to see where they can invest more attention and slowly improve.
Challenging themselves like this might allow employees to become more productive and work more efficiently. Time limits might take some getting used to, but they can help employees stay on track.
9. Leave Phones Behind
It might not be realistic to ask someone who works in an office to leave their phone at home, as they may need it to contact someone about something important during the day. Still, the “out of sight, out of mind” idea can help people not think about their phones.
When working from home, employees can put their phones outside of their workspace. At the very least, phones should be switched to silent or Do Not Disturb mode when occupying the same space as an employee.
10. Plan Out the Day
Before leaving work, employees should think about looking ahead at tomorrow’s tasks so they can effectively plan out what their day will look like. Knowing what they have waiting for them tomorrow can make them feel more ready to tackle the day.
When building a to-do list, people should take care to note due dates and organize tasks by priority, which can help them run through their list more effectively. Above all, one of the best things an employee can do with their to-do list is to cross things off. Doing so gives them a sense of accomplishment.
Set Up an Effective Day
Like everything, distractions have their time and place. Many people want to live in the moment and strive to eliminate distractions, but the best technique is to opt for occasional distractions to satisfy the brain. Staying present might be difficult, but over time, once a person learns to manage the distractions they encounter every day, they may find it easier and more rewarding than ever.