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Posts Tagged ‘minimising distractions’

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Much has been said and written on the topic of multitasking, concentration and how to stay focussed. And while there are some really useful resources on the Internet that will help you improve your concentration skills, most of the posts suggest focussing techniques that are literally useless and will not only mess up your mind, but will also make you waste precious time while trying to make them work.

The truth about focussing is that it can be achieved, but for many it seems to be a case of all or nothing – you will either do it right and concentrate on your task, or it won’t happen at all. If it doesn’t happen instantly, gradual and step-by-step ‘training’ of your mind won’t help, because the core of every technique is motivation and determination. If you want to do it, you will do it right away as it is not that hard. If you don’t want to do it, you just won’t.

So, imagine you are working on a really important report for your meeting tomorrow and you really need to get it right. True, you may still get it right even if you are constantly being distracted, but it won’t be as good as the one your focussed self can produce. Besides, focussing on one thing and doing only it will help you do it faster and with less effort, thus saving your time and energy for the next task. Being focussed will also allow you to avoid making silly mistakes related to spelling and grammar, figures and clarity. It is so annoying not to attach a file when sending an e-mail or writing ‘September 2£’, and we won’t even mention forgetting to save your report before switching the computer off.

Now that we know some of the important reasons why you should focus on one task and deal with it without distraction, let’s see how to do it. The first question you need to ask yourself is ‘What are the things that distract me?’ Here are some suggestions:

– Social Media, news and other websites
– E-mail
– Phone
– Colleagues
– Other things you have forgotten
– add other distractions here…

So now that we have the list of things that distract you, let’s see how to avoid the distraction.

Firstly, the Internet; just close your browser, look at the browser icon and make a mental note, something like a mind alarm that will go off every time you click on it. The alarm should say ‘No distractions!’ or ‘Get back to work!’ or ‘Multitasking is not cool!’ – anything that will remind you that your goal is to focus on the report or the task at hand. Browsing the Web can be your treat for a job well done. Of course, you can use the browser for research and information for your task, but close it again as soon as you are done with that.

As for your e-mail, if you access it through your browser, that’s already sorted out. If you use Outlook or an app on your phone, just switch off the automatic synchronisation for some time until you finish your task. E-mails can wait, you will have enough time to focus on them later.

Same goes for your phone – switch off the vibration, mute it and put it screen down on the desktop. You can take care of all professional and personal matters requiring your attention afterwards.

If your colleagues keep distracting you from what you have to do, just explain to them politely that you need to focus on your task. If they keep doing it, close the door to your office – that will usually do the trick. Same goes for your thoughts – they can be like distracting colleagues sometimes. In order to stop them, put a sheet of paper near you – when you remember something, just write it down. This will help you focus your thoughts.

In a similar way, you can deal with all other distractions you add to your list. Just have in mind that you are not removing the distractions forever, as you will need to focus on them at some point. You are just keeping them at arm’s length so you can pay attention to your current task.

If you follow this simple and easy method, you will see that your productivity and success will achieve new levels and that dealing with your daily tasks will take you less time and effort than usual. There’s no harm in trying, so why not try now?

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In our last post we looked at some of the distractions that bother us when we work from home.  As you probably know we have just scratched the top of the iceberg.

Let’s scratch some more.

A Little Separation Goes a Long Way

If possible, try to have a separate phone line for your business and personal calls, or check with your telephone company and find out if they can issue two numbers for the same line but with each having a special, identifying ring. This way, you can screen your calls by sound rather than having to look away from your work and check caller ID. Leave your personal calls until you are done working for the day. Only answer your business line during the time that you have set aside for work hours while you are at home.

Additional Strategies

While most of these suggestions deal with the physical work at home environment, they apply to the online environment as well. Email, social media and other online sites can also interrupt the flow of your work day.

  • Make a point to turn off your email notifications. Break bad habits before they start, and resolve to not get into the habit of checking your Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram or other social media sites multiple times a day.
  • While it’s okay to take a break once in a while, make a routine where you will only take a short break to check your email or social sites once a day. Absolutely do not leave these programs up and running in the background, or the 10 minutes that you set aside for a quick message or post can easily turn into lost time.

Work out which are your key distractions and do something about them.  Your stress levels will keep building until you do.

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donotdisturbWith telecommuting, many common tasks can be accomplished just as well from home as they are at the office, so for many people, working from home can be very beneficial. Usually working at home saves money in terms of not having to pay commute to the office each day, or buy special clothes or pay to eat lunch out. However, if you aren’t disciplined, the inevitable distractions that occur when working at home can be very costly and result in decreased efficiency and productivity, and possibly result in the loss of clients or work.

The following are some ideas and general rules of thumb to keep in mind when working at home to help reduce distractions and maintain productivity.

Establish Physical Boundaries

  • While it’s not absolutely necessary to have a room with a door or other designated space that is solely dedicated to your work from home efforts, it can certainly help. If it’s not possible to set up a home office, try to select a space that can be solely yours during your working hours.
  • Try to choose an area that is quiet, comfortable, and free of noise or other distractions. Ensure there is enough space where you can keep handy your office supplies and other items that you need to do your work. Avoid areas that are prone to congestion and traffic from family, roommates and friends, such as the kitchen table, the living room or den.

Make A Schedule And Keep Set Hours

  • As human beings, most of us find security and peace of mind from establishing routines. When working from home, try to establish some routines and schedules.
  • Make certain that everyone in the home knows what hours you will be working from home each day and that just because you happen to be in the house, you really aren’t “free” to handle interruptions or things that pop up.
  • Before you begin working from home, if you live with several roommates or perhaps a spouse and/or other family members, make certain that everyone is aware and on board with your working from home schedule.
  • Have a plan for how family members or roommates will handle theoretical “emergencies” before they occur when you are working from home. Make certain that if it isn’t a true emergency, that they understand that if it’s just special news that they would like to share, that it needs to keep until you are off work, just like it would need to if you were away working in the office.
  • If you are the parent of an infant or young child, make certain that there is another parent or other adult available to watch the children while you are working from home, or be prepared to not get much done. Let good friends and neighbors also know your work schedule and explain beforehand that just because you are at home, you are not available during your working hours.

No matter what you do, you will still need some discipline and some days that can be hard to find.  Next week we will share a few more ideas to help you maintain your work focus.

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