Breaks are great. We love breaks. Breaks helps us step away from what we are working on and come back to a project with a fresh eye. On the other hand, distractions can be an issue. Distractions catch you off guard and can derail your train of thought completely.
One study shows that it takes on average of 23 minutes to get back into the swing of things after you’ve been interrupted. This definitely depends on they type of interruption. If the interruption matches the current task you are working on, it can be beneficial and have positive feedback for your project. But if the topic is something completely different that takes your attention completely away form what you were working on, this distraction is long lasting and can take a while to recover. All of these small interruptions or distractions can really add up throughout the day.
5 common distractions in the workplace:
We love our friends and our friends love us, but during the working day this can be a large distraction. Sometimes you try to ignore it, put your phone on silent, or turn it upside down so you can’t see the screen, but that little buzzing from the vibrate mode can really peak our interest and force us to look. It may be just one of our Mom’s telling us about the latest news in their retired life, but that news could spark other unwanted thoughts and curve our attention away from the project at hand. If you want to eliminate this distraction and focus on your project, turn it to airplane mode until your next break.
Emails, emails, emails. They are never ending and always coming in every hour of every day. Especially with that fancy Gmail feature that alerts you every time a new email appears in your inbox, this can be a huge distraction in the middle of a project. We could spend our entire day responding to emails and refreshing our inbox to see the next email that just popped up. One smart way to eliminate that need to respond immediately is to designate time slots throughout your day for only responding to emails. This could be 3 or 4 times each day; morning, afternoon, and before leaving work. I know, I know, some projects are time sensitive any emails related to that project may need your immediate attention, but the rest of the 100’s of emails you receive, can be delegated to those specific time slots.
3. Social Media
Facebook updates, Instagram photos, Snapchats, Tweets. These are all great ways to stay connected to friends, family, and business connections but they can also really suck you in for good solid chunk of your time during the day. Our culture today is addicted to social media. These avenues can be very beneficial for a small business, like ourselves, to show our recent work to the community, but if it is not a good way to promote the business, it can wait.
4. Unexpected visits or phone calls
Being small business owners and entrepreneurs, some of our friends and family think that we sit around all day relaxing and watching Judge Judy. When in reality we are just as busy, if not busier keeping up with clients and completing our tasks. Unexpected visits and conversations take away from our productivity during the day and force us to concentrate on something other than our work. Try to set your boundaries with visits just like you would at a regular office. That means before or after hours, or maybe that rare lunch time visit.
5. Internet Browsing
Oh we love how you can Google anything and find an answer, but the world wide internet can be a large distraction. When you think something may take a minute or two, somehow it turns into hours. Looking at your favorite blog, staying up to date on the latest celebrity news, finding the latest sale at your favorite online store – if they do not relate to the project you are working on, these distractions can wait till the work hours are over.
There is room for improvement:
1. Block off time slots throughout your day. These could be time slots for breaks, checking emails, taking a walk, anything to help improve your productivity. Keep your distractions away from your work and your projects so you are 100% focused.
2. Identify how you work the best. We all have different ideal working environments. Some of us need it silent to concentrate, others work best with their favorite music playing, or maybe it is a matter of working in your own home vs. at a coffee shop. It is best to recognize how you work and what is the best setting for you.
3. Reign in your inner procrastinator. Distractions and procrastination go hand in hand. It is important to realize that getting started on a difficult project has nothing to do with how we feel. We like to think that our motivational state has to match the project we are working on when really we need to realize that this difficult project will not be completed magically or be more pleasant tomorrow. We need to always be motivated to concentrate now, no matter how difficult the task may be.
Again it is healthy and productive to take breaks and walk away from your desk. It recharges you. But once you begin a project and have a goal to accomplish A, B & C, you want to stay focused on what you are working on and not let distractions throw your train off it’s tracks.