Emails, notifications, and chats are just some 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 more accessible – 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 realized the time had been lost, and worked faster, which has its own challenges. Hence, there are more errors and admissions, plus a personal toll, with more frustration, impatience, and unhappiness.
Therefore it’s time to take control so you can be happier and get your work done. 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. 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, schedule a video meeting.
Reply when you can, not immediately
The idea is to get to the state of asynchronous communication, where your network understands you will reply when you have the time rather than immediately.
Instill an interaction process where everyone understands they must include actionable items and deadlines. This way, your staff, colleagues, clients, family, and friends know when to expect a response. Here’s a good guide to turn your team communication asynchronous.
Prioritize what’s important
Control 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 about being outcome-orientated, and with self-control, you are consciously aware of what you’re doing and spending your time.
With a higher self-management state, you always know what’s required to complete a task and how it’s been achieved. Plus, you want to do better, so you’ll question if the job was done on time and within budget. You’ll also want to know if all stakeholders were engaged and happy with the 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 scheduling your tasks for the day or the week early, 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 quickly 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 you cannot be disturbed at certain times of the day.
Your commitment to self-management is more focused and present when you spend time with people or are on task. There’s nothing worse than being with someone who is there in person but not in mind.
Turn off your phone
Use your phone’s airplane mode or turn it off to avoid calls or other interruptions. This also ensures you are less likely to pick up your phone to check messages between tasks. For example, you could set a filter to only allow specific 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 work hours.
Self-management takes discipline and focus, which is guided by your plans. Create daily, weekly, and monthly schedules to get the critical actions done, leaving time for urgent and ad-hoc events that make each day rewarding, like spending time on hobbies and with friends and family.