Back in the “old days” when we used to work in an office every day, there were always distractions to deal with. Now, in the midst of COVID-19, we face new distractions while working from home. How can you squash these distractions once and for all? 

  1. Smartphones

    Did you know the average person in the United States views their phone 52 times in a day? They are our lifeline to the world and hold all the data we need for our daily lives. Between emails, texts, social media, and phone calls, it always seems to be needed. Add in calendar and note function, the ability to listen to music or a podcast, and it is no wonder why our phones are continually interrupting workflow and focus.

    Try putting your phone on airplane mode or use the phone’s “do not disturb” function. If things are still too tempting, leave your phone in another room. You may even want to set specific times throughout the day to check your phone for a certain timeframe. That way, you know you are not missing anything important, but you’re focusing on needed work.

  2. Email / Social Media

    Like our smartphones, being tempted to constantly check our inbox as soon as a new message arrives can be addicting. Not to mention the constant social media distractions throughout the day! Because we send and receive so many emails during the workday, some days can feel like that is all we accomplish.

    The best way to fix this distraction is to turn off your email notifications on your phone. Also, close apps or web browsers with emails and social media on the computer you are using. There are also ways you can filter messages out of your inbox that are not important. Install website blockers to make different websites completely inaccessible during the day, as well.

    You are also able to set your computer to offline mode, meaning your email will accumulate until you are ready to answer them. This lets you set focused time aside to respond to them when it is best for you, along with checking social media on your own device and time.

  3. Meetings

    We all know how notorious meetings can be for being unproductive, as well as distracting.

    Before scheduling a meeting, decide if it is necessary. Could it be skipped with the communications taking place over email? If a meeting is needed, only invite critical stakeholders, create a specific agenda, and keep the meeting as short as possible. You may also want to make sure the meeting is being recorded in some manner and walk away with next steps and assigned owners on who will be doing what.

    Also consider setting aside specific days for meetings. Having teams and colleagues know that certain days will contain meetings and certain days are “free” helps to get everyone mentally prepared for what the day will bring. 

  4. Clutter

    Working in a messy workplace, whether it is your corporate office or at home, can affect your ability to focus and process information. It can lead to confusion and will constantly remind you of everything else that needs to be done.

    That is why it’s important to keep your workspace clean and organized. Throw out items you no longer need. Get as much of your paperwork online and into the cloud as possible. This will reduce the paper clutter on your desk, not to mention the filing cabinets and space needed in your office. At the very least, try to do this at the end of the week to make sure you come in Monday morning prepared for a productive week. 

  5. Attention Span / You

    Do you trick yourself into thinking that if you multi-task you’re actually going to get more done? It can actually slow you down and cause you to make mistakes you otherwise wouldn’t have made. Have you tried to take a phone call while continuing to work on an important work item? Before you know it, you don’t know what the person just said, and you made a couple mistakes on the item at hand.

    Block times for yourself in your calendar to help your attention span and prioritize what you need to do. During this time, make sure you have no other distractions around. Is your mind starting to wonder? Take a quick walk for a couple minutes, clear your head, and immediately get back to work. 

Distractions are a part of life and will never go away, but there are ways to optimize how you work. Eliminate as many distractions as possible, simply by removing some of the temptations in the first place!

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