Productivity is the buzz word in the corporate space. It’s the goal of the employees as well as the employers. However, standing between you and your productivity are a plethora of distractions. E-mails, Meetings, Surrounding Noises, Phone Notifications, Internet, Tea/Lunch/Snack Breaks, Colleagues and even Hunger. Phew! That’s a lot of distractions for a place where one is supposed to focus and produce high quality work.
In such a scenario, how can you meet your productivity goals? There are some ways that have proven to be helpful, provided you have the resolve to not give in to these distractions.
Wouldn’t it be great it would be if there was a platform where your colleagues/clients/boss(s) would send you messages, but they won’t expect you to read or reply instantly? Well, guess what, such a thing does exist. It’s called e-mail! E-mails are not meant to be checked real-time, as and when you get the notification, and they are definitely not meant to be replied to instantly. But for some reason we all seem to think otherwise. However, checking e-mails frequently throughout the day takes a huge hit on your ability to focus. So, allot some time from your daily schedule for reading, sending and replying to mails. Perhaps, twice a day. And promise yourself that you wouldn’t check e-mails outside of those time frames. This is easier to do if you have turned off your notifications.
For those working in an open-plan office, background noise is a constant. There’s sound of other people talking either face-to-face or on the phone. Then there are fax machines, copiers, printers—noise from all of which can affect your productivity. Some etiquettes such as moving outside the working area to take calls and having quick walking meetings instead of talking around the desk, could work a long way in reducing this. Plus, you can also get a noise cancellation headphones to shut out all the noise.
Set work time and break time
Yes, we know you’re tempted to check your social media. You want to know what your friends are up to, and also who has liked your latest Instagram post. But, the urge to do this need not interfere with your work. Studies have shown that people work best in bouts of 25 minutes, after which we tend to lose our concentration. Some can go on for longer. Find what your magic number is and after your work block, take a mandatory break of 5 minutes. During this break, check your phone notifications, answer important calls, do some stretching and get back to the next focused work session.
Plan how you will spend each day either the night before or during the morning commute. It’s not just important to list down the tasks and meetings you have scheduled for the day, but also the estimated time for each task/meeting. This will keep your to-do list realistic and achievable, while allowing you to work without being frustrated by the pending number of tasks.
Organizing your time at work is important, but so is organizing your desk. It’s quite difficult to focus in a place that’s cluttered and messy. Clear your desk and organize the papers and files neatly. This would also help you easily locate them without having to scout around when you need an important document. This goes even for your laptops and desktops. Organize your mails and sort your files into different folders depending on their purpose. Most importantly, clean up from time to time. Get rid of the unwanted stuff, in your physical as well as virtual workspace.
Meditation has proven to be a great tool for improved concentration. Try your hand at meditation and watch yourself be more focused, not just at work but in life, in general. Also, it helps you to be more mindful of yourself. This way, when you notice even the slightest hint of distraction, you’ll be able to detect it and bring your focus back to the task at hand.
Focus on one task
No matter how much you think you can multi-task, do not do it. Multi-tasking is the easiest way to get distracted because you are never fully focused on one task. Work on one task at a time and do not quit till you’ve achieved what you set out to you.
Eat on time
Hunger is yet another strong feeling and source of distraction. When at work, don’t let it come to that. Have fixed time for lunch and tea/snack break so that you don’t feel starved while focusing on an important task. But, be firm about not extending those break times however tempting it might be to do so.
Finally, we come to the most important source of distraction—our phone. Yes, we keep them on silent mode but also on vibration, which means, every time you get a call or a text or any other notification, you can’t stop yourself from checking it. Resist from doing that and keep your phones completely on silent. Not even on vibration. You can check it at the end of your work block, as we discussed before.