In most offices today, even college campuses, we’re always online—getting emails, checking social media, browsing websites. When cell phones make us accessible to friends, family and employers 24/7, it is really easy to fall victim to distractions. And work-from-home or telecommuting positions have their own set of disruptions—kids, pets, the laundry. You get the picture. With all the conveniences of technology, we’re not really as productive as we’d like to be.
So what’s a worker-bee to do? How do you banish all those distractions so you can get your work done without burning bridges with your family and coworkers?
If possible, set open-office hours—hours that your “door” is open and coworkers can pop in unannounced. Post your hours at the entrance to your cubicle. Let family members know that your work time is just that: time for work.
Make a to-do list you like
Knowing what you have to accomplish in a day can help keep you on track. And being able to cross things off your list will help motivate you to keep working. One step ahead of that, make your to-do list for the next day before you leave from work. Find the tasks that help you look forward to work the next day. Earnest Hemingway always stopped writing when he had more to say, so that the next day he could pick it right back up again.
Close the tabs on your social media platforms and close your email programs. Get notifications on your phone? Turn them off or turn down the volume. Lack the discipline to unplug? Freedom is an app that disables your Internet for a pre-determined period of time, and the only way to get your Internet back is to reboot your computer.
Be aware of your time
If turning off the Internet is out of the question because of the nature of your job, try tracking the time you spend on your computer. You may be in denial of how much time you waste in a day. Apps like Rescue Time will track how much time you spend on different websites and applications on your computer and mobile devices. You can also block particular websites, set alerts when you’ve reached a certain amount of time on something, and view detailed reports of your activity. It’s a great snapshot to help you realize where your time is really going. You may be distracted and not even know it.
Nothing says “Don’t talk to me” like someone wearing headphones. Someone with headphones on is surely in his or her own world or on a conference call and shouldn’t be bothered. If you prefer a silent work environment, wear headphones anyone to give the illusion of someone hitting their nose to the grindstone. If you're not in the mood for music, Noisli is a free site where you can pick any kind of background noise from a "coffee shop" to "leaves blowing in the wind."
Distractions will always be there, but it’s up to you to find ways to combat them so you can continue to be productive. Do you already have some methods for focusing at work or school? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!
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About the Author
Abby is a writer and editor in the Phoenix area and is always on the prowl for great ideas. When she’s not in front of her computer, you can find her running the streets or nearby mountain trails—usually way too early in the morning to be considered sane.Follow on Twitter More Content by Abby Herman