I love writing these blogs for Extendware, because I get to tell my stories and sometimes in my writing, make realizations on my own work habits. Recently I have noticed when I am focused and enjoy the tasks I am executing, nothing can stop me from getting things done. Then, there are the less attractive tasks. Those are the tasks that trigger my once focused self to be easily distracted. I was working on a spreadsheet that could have taken an hour, yet instead it took about three. Here are the reasons why.
I noticed dirt on the floor and decided to vacuum
I answered emails every time one came through
I played fetch with my dog
I answered my phone and talked to my cousin for 30 minutes
Pretty much anything that could distract me, I let distract me. Does this sound familiar?
We Are All Guilty
Many of us can get pushed off balance by the slightest interruptions at work, while others easily tune them out. In all honesty, nobody is completely attentive to their work 100% of the time and we can all use some guidance on ways to avoid or ignore disruptions. The key is to limit distractions as much as possible. We’d all get burnt out pretty quickly if we didn’t get distracted from time to time to take our minds off of work. The bigger issue is when distractions take up too much of our time and prevent us from getting anything done. If interruptions in the office are not managed, they can seriously deter your focus and may lead to factual mistakes, poor performance, and poor judgment.
Frequent distractions can also negatively affect your mood. They can prevent you from getting your work done on time, which creates more stress for you and can make you more frustrated and unhappy at work. Happiness comes with work that has meaning to you, and seeing positive results from your efforts. Distractions can decrease focus, which increases stress, which can intensify any poor work habit you may have.
A distraction can take many forms. External annoyances like loud mouth phone talkers in open cube space to personal distractions such as social media or personal email.
Types if distractions depend on your line of work, office space, size of your company etc. Some examples of the various culprits include: Relentless e-mail, text messages, social media, co-worker or client interruptions, visitors and unscheduled meetings, music, TV, alerts, IM’s, ringing phones, other people talking, noisy copy machines, vehicles going by outside your window, elevator doors opening and closing…wow I am getting distracted just writing this!
There is hope! If you regularly lose focus at work because of one or more of these distractions, there are a few things you can do.
Reserve blocks of time for work that requires the most concentration. The regular 9-5 timeframe might be standard but to assume people will use that exact formula is silly. I like to use the first hour at work to make headway on my most time consuming and difficult project. Some people feel like they can focus later in the evening, after kids go to bed, dinner is over etc. Its all about finding what works for you. If you are sharing an office, ask your co-workers for quiet time, and if that’s out of the question, take your work into a conference room or other quiet space.
Spending a just a few minutes each day checking personal e-mail or texting is not a problem but doing it in excess can be detrimental to your day. I turn off my email and text alerts during work hours so they don’t distract me, then I dedicate a couple times a day to check for anything urgent. The key is to check, and move on if not pressing.
Organize Your Space
It’s so easy to catch sight of something that will only take a couple of minutes and stop working on the big stuff to address the little things. Don’t let visual distractions cost you important focused time. Keep your desk clean and put the urgent items in file stackers or a tray. Anything else file away out of site!