Do you find yourself stopping what you are supposed to be doing because of distractions at work? Who doesn’t get distracted when the phone rings, co-workers talk about work or weekend activities, and social media notifications hit every few minutes?
Sometimes distractions happen while we’re at work, school or at home that make us stop doing what we’re supposed to be doing. These distractions can come from other ourselves or others doing what we/they should be doing, or doing things we shouldn’t be doing.
The key is to understand the severity of your focus problems. Do they happen regularly? Do distractions cause you to miss deadlines or decrease your performance?
Are Distractions Affecting Your Work Performance? Are You:
Isolating from family, friends, coworkers?
Losing track of time?
Having trouble completing tasks at work or home?
Feeling defensive about the time you spend on the internet?
Feeling energized with non-work Internet activities?
Use these 10 Strategies to Resist Distractions at Work:
1. Identify Your Distraction Triggers
Distractions are both external and internal. Understanding when you tend to lose focus will enable you to plan for counter-strategies. Is it the chatty co-worker or your own wandering mind that is the biggest culprit? Whether it’s a coworker interrupting you when you’re on deadline, your wandering mind, or stressful emotions, distractions get in the way of getting things done. Take these actions against distractions.
2. Visualize the End Project
When you can see the end product you can then count back to decipher the steps that were needed. A project can feel overwhelming, but if you are able to itemize, define and put to a schedule the needed steps, studies tell us this will increase the chances of getting the task done.
3. Review Past Successes
Recall a time when you were able to set aside distractions and complete something you were proud of, in a timely manner. What did that feel like? Bring the feelings of self-achievement into the forefront on your mind. By focusing on positive sentiments, you will produce self-fulfilling, can-do mindset.
4. Keep a Lid on Your Emotions
Stress is often a culprit of focus issues. Disappointment on a missed promotion or not getting accepted into the college of choice can lead to poor performance. Practice self-calming activities such as mindfulness and remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day and new opportunities will arise.
[Get This Free Handout: 10 Rules for ADHD-Proof Productivity] calming intrusive thoughts
5. Mind Over Matter
When a distraction happens, physically turn your body and walk away. Sometimes, you may want to ignore someone if you don’t like what they say, but it’s important only to ignore things that stop you from doing what you’re supposed to. Take a deep breath and count to five. Remind yourself to keep working, focus on the outcome and give yourself positive reinforcement for a job well-done.
6. Set Up Physical Signs
Don’t hesitate to put up a sign on the door or on your desk asking for quiet and no interruptions. You can make the wording fun or serious, but actively follow the instructions, i.e. don’t post unless you are using the time for good.
7. Prioritize the Tasks
Some things are well, just boring or difficult. Do you work better getting them out of the way? Most of us want to address the least attractive tasks early in the day to take them off our plate and to avoid later distraction. If you prefer writing to accounting, balance the budget first and use the desire to write the executive summary as a motivation.
8. Ask Again
If you avoid asking for further information for fear that it will look like you weren’t listening (again), stop. Wasting time trying to figure something out is time poorly used if the directions can be given again quickly. Instead of worrying about looking bad by asking a question, request the directions you need to complete the job.
9. Set a Timer
We all do better with breaks. The question is, how often do you need one? If a task is boring or moving slowly, set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes. If you can keep working, great, if not, take a break. There should be no self-judgement. Many smart people can get a lot done in a short amount of time… this includes you!
10. Enlist Help
Perhaps a coach can identify the areas where you tend to struggle. The two of you can then implement strategies to help build focus. There are many productivity tools and apps that you can enlist, as well as friends, co-workers and family members to call or text you a few times a day to make sure that you stay focused on the task at hand.
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