Emails, notifications, chats are just some of the online distractions at work. Then there are the in-person disruptions with colleagues keen to converse.
Finding ways to avoid distractions is an ongoing challenge and if you thought remote working was any easier – think again. You can add kids, partners and pets to the list.
Frustration and Stressed
Constant distractions aren’t only counterproductive. They can also leave you feeling stressed out. UCI did a study on work distractions and found that not only did it take more than 20 minutes to refocus on the original task, workers realising time had been lost, worked faster which has its own challenges. Hence, more errors and admissions, plus there is a personal toll too with more frustration, impatience and unhappiness.
Therefore it’s time to take control so you can be happier and get your work done. Just the process of changing how you react to intrusions will need careful management while your colleagues, family and friends learn the new boundaries for contacting you while you’re working.
Putting rules in place may seem unfair, particularly where your family is concerned while remote working – however, you can do it diplomatically. Plus, remember how you’ve been feeling lately, tired, overworked and unfulfilled this is why managing your time is vital.
Here are some tried and tested strategies to stay focused on the task at hand all the way to the end to finish what you set out to do.
How To Avoid Distractions
Distractions often creep up in the form of emails or phone calls and video calls, aka video conferencing. However, the positive of video calls is they are more often scheduled meetings. So if you’re concerned about constant interruptions from one source, for instance, schedule a video meeting.
Reply when you can, not immediately
The ideal is to get to the state of asynchronous communication, where your network understands you will reply when you have the time rather than immediately.
Instil a process for interactions where everyone understands they need to include actionable items and deadlines. This way, your staff, colleagues, clients, and family and friends know when to expect a response. Here’s a good guide to turn your team communication asynchronous.
Prioritize what’s important
To be in control of when and where you work, with or without distractions, requires a commitment to improving your self-management.
Everything worth doing should start with a plan, and you’ll need the space and environment conducive to formulating clear goals.
Self-management is all about being outcome-orientated, and with self-control, you are consciously aware of what you’re doing, how you’re spending your time.
With a higher self-management state, you always know what’s required to get a task done and how it’s been achieved. Plus, you want to do better, so you’ll question if the task was done on time and within budget. You’ll also want to know if all stakeholders were engaged and happy with the end result. What you learn from reviewing the process can then be used to improve how you’re getting through each day.
Goal setting is the mode operand for self-management.
When the goals are yours, they are easier to achieve as you’re more motivated, but you will need to also work on your time management. 🙂
We can always learn new ways to improve how we get stuff done. You don’t need to be super rigid about every second of your day, but it’s important to prioritize certain bits of work that may have to be finished ahead of others. When you’re scheduling your tasks for the day or the week ahead, don’t forget to make time for yourself to relax and unwind. Here are a few actions to improve your time management:
- Work out what you need to do in the day
- Set a time limit for each task
- Can others help you tick off tasks? Delegate wherever you can so you focus your time on tasks you personally need to do
- Create habits and routines and stick to them
Whether you’re in the workplace or in your home office, set expectations and boundaries, so you’re more more productive . For example, if you’re easily interrupted by colleagues at the office, devise a signal that shows others when you’re busy.
At home, take yourself off to a home office where you’ve got a ‘closed door’ policy. Family members will understand that there are certain times in the day when you can not be disturbed.
Your commitment to self-management is your time spent with people or on task is more focused and present. There’s nothing worse than being with someone who is there in person but not in mind.
Turn off your phone
Use the airplane mode of your phone or turn it off to avoid calls or other interruptions. This also ensures that you are less likely to pick up your phone to check messages in between tasks. For example, you could set a filter to only allow certain numbers to get through to you but block all others.
Forming good habits is the key to avoiding distractions, particularly while working. Create rules, and set boundaries for communication and interaction during your scheduled hours of work.
Self-management takes discipline, and focus which guided by your plans. Create daily, weekly, monthly schedules to get the important actions done, leaving time for urgent and ad-hoc events that make each and every day rewarding, like spending time on hobbies and with friends and family.