Recently, I have discussed how one extra degree of effort can lead to amazing results. Yet, in a typical day, we all encounter many distractions capable of hindering our ability to focus and deliver. So, how can we minimize distractions and their impact on our productivity? Here are a few tips to consider:
Give the Signal
If the open-door policy at work impacts your focus time, respectfully shut your door to signal that you’re in concentration mode. You’re not being antisocial, you’re merely removing the chance of having your momentum broken while you work. No door? No worries. Headphones can just as effectively signal “I’m focused.” If all else fails, try relocating to a conference room or quiet spot in the office where you have the best chance at staying in the zone.
Quell the Email
While addressing emails as they come in might seem like a quick task, it can be a huge hinderance to your productivity. It can kill your momentum and add up to a significant amount of time by the end of the day. Instead of answering them as they arrive, set aside blocks of time before and after lunch that are dedicated to responding to several emails, rather than throughout the day. Keep up with the urgent and flag those that take priority when you return to your email. If the popup notification is Pavlovian for you, consider turning it off so it doesn’t interrupt your workflow.
Manage Your Meetings
Schedule time to “make” and to meet. Consider scheduling blocks of time on your calendar that are dedicated to producing, or “making”. By carving out time to deliver on promises made, you’ll deter folks from scheduling a meeting that will break up your focus time. For the meetings you must attend, stick to an agenda so that everyone stays focused on topics at hand, resulting in effective outcomes.
Face Away from Facebook
Non-work-related websites are another distraction that can hurt your productivity. Your RSS feeds, sites like Reddit and Mashable, and social networks like Facebook are easy paths down a rabbit hole. If you find yourself getting pulled into the grips of online distractions, consider installing an app like Self-control or a browser extension that will prevent you from updating your Facebook status or falling into a WIkipedia time warp by blocking sites that aren’t work-related.
There is a myriad of other distractions that can hinder you from staying focused, compromising your time to give that extra degree of effort. Distractions at work are a guarantee, but these tips can get you started down the right path. Remember that water boils at 211°, yet at 212° turns into steam that can power a locomotive. That one extra degree of effort is the difference between good and great.