How To Eliminate Distraction
There are lots of everyday distractions that kill your productivity. Let’s start by looking at a number of ways we get easily distracted and how we can cut down on the level of distraction.
How to Eliminate Distraction from Your Phone
One of the worst offenders when it comes to everyday distraction is your smartphone. The constant alerts from text messages, emails, and app alerts, along with the rare phone call are enough to interrupt your flow of thought. Take a wild guess… how many alerts do you get on your phone on any given day? Is it a dozen? Two dozen? Even more? That means you’re getting interrupted several times per hour throughout your productive time of day. Your phone is the equivalent of a toddler that needs constant attention.
Even worse is the temptation to repeatedly check your phone in between alerts. You need to see if there’s an email you missed. You need to respond to a message you got this morning. You have to check Facebook to see what your friends are up to, or CNN to catch up on the latest news. Then there’s Instagram and the latest mobile game you’ve gotten into.
If you let it, your phone is a constant source of distraction. Not only does it distract you from the things you have to do like finishing a report at work, or cleaning the bathroom, it even distracts you when you’re having fun. How often do you check your phone when you’re having a conversation with a friend or are watching a movie? Isn’t it time that you started to take back control?
My point is that your phone is distracting you a lot more than you think. If you don’t believe me, get out a pen and paper and make a check mark every single time your phone disrupts or distracts you in some way shape or form.
How to eliminate distraction from your your phone is to stop looking at your phone all the time. Disable alerts, and don’t be afraid to silence it and stick it in a drawer when you need to focus.
How to eliminate Distraction from Email
Email can be another big distraction for a lot of people. Yes, you need it to communicate, particularly for work, but it shouldn’t be a distraction. Despite popular belief, you don’t have to check your messages every 15 minutes. 90% of your email likely won’t even require a response from you and the ones that do, can wait for a few hours. Rarely are emails sent in case of an urgent emergency, unless that’s how you’ve trained your team and customers to communicate with you.
Email programs will continue to distract you as long as you feel the need to check email constantly or have your laptop, tablet, smartphone or other device set to alert you each time a new email comes in.
Instead of allowing the disruption and dealing with emails as they come in, set designated times during the day to deal with both business and personal email messages. Then turn off all smartphone alerts for your various email accounts. Close out of your email program on your laptop, desktop, and tablet. Don’t even think or worry about email until it is time to deal with it. Trust that almost every single issue can wait and that if it is truly urgent, the person will pick up the phone and call you or stop by when they don’t get an immediate response via email. This is how to eliminate distraction from email.
How to Eliminate Distraction from Social Media
The next big offender when it comes to constant distraction is social media. Be honest. How often do you log into your favorite social media platforms? How many of them do you have on your phone and more importantly, for how many of them do you have notifications set up for? For most of us it’s more than we like to admit and for a few of us, it’s a serious problem that’s bordering addiction.
With social media, you’re really dealing with two different issues. The first is the alerts disrupting you. This is easily fixed. Turn off the notifications and deal with what’s happening on your own time.
The second, and the more harmful way that social media distracts us from what we are doing is the constant need to check in. We use checking social media as an excuse or escape. Focusing on important work is hard. Social media gives us a quick escape. Once there, it sucks us in and before we know it, the quick one minute check turns into 20 minutes of mindless scrolling. Breaking this habit can be a little tricky, but it is well worth it.
How to eliminate distraction from social media is to start by putting social media on the schedule. Instead of checking in all day long, set certain times of the day when you do it. Give yourself 10 minutes at lunch time and 20 minutes after dinner. If you use it for work, put it on your work schedule. Set a timer if you have to. Get out of the habit of checking in anytime you need a little mental break.
How An Open Door Policy Distracts You
Do you have an open door policy at your office or your home? Do you encourage people to stop by whenever they need something or want to chat? While there are certainly benefits to being open and nurturing those relationships, it can also get very distracting.
How often are you sitting at your desk working on an important project with a deadline, only to have a co-worker stop by to chat or complain? How often are you in the middle of a cleaning project at home when a friend or your mom stops by for coffee. For this kind of socialising there is a time and a place, but when it happens at all hours of the day, it seriously hurts your productivity.
Every time that door opens or the doorbell rings, you get disrupted in whatever it is you’re doing. That’s fine when there isn’t much going on, but it can spell disaster when you’re on a deadline. The same goes for an “open door” policy on phone calls. There are certain times of the day that you don’t want to be disrupted and distracted every 15 minutes.
Instead of having a constant open door policy, set aside some time for “office hours”. Let your employees, your team, your neighbours, and your friends know that they are welcome to stop in from 3 to 5 in the afternoon, but that you’re tied up with work the rest of the time. Setting boundaries and keeping big chunks of time distraction free is the key to getting your best and most productive work done.
How to Eliminate Distraction by Planning and Scheduling
Last but not least, let’s talk about a lack of planning and scheduling. We all know that planning helps increase our productivity. There’s a reason that daily planners and calendars are big business. They work, but you may not be aware of the impact they can have on your productivity by cutting out distractions.
If you aren’t a planner person, or you don’t keep track of everything and anything in a paper or digital planner of some sort, you know that you have a running mental list of things in your head that you need to remember. It’s anything from when the latest report is due to be sent to your boss to the birthday party your child is invited to next Saturday.
We have busy lives and there are lots and lots of appointments, meetings, deadlines, and simple things we need to do (like pay bills). It’s a huge amount of information that we have to keep track of. If you do it all in your head, it takes up quite a bit of brain space. As with many things, we get used to it and don’t realise just how distracting and counterproductive this can be until we stop doing it.
Here’s something for you to try. Get out a big notebook and write down every single thing you have to do or remember on it. Don’t judge, don’t edit, just get it all on paper. When you’re done, notice how much lighter and freer you feel. Just getting it all out of your head is a great start. I recommend reading my blog and downloading the free goals journal on goal setting here for ideas on how to document your daily tasks to stay on track.
After putting it all on paper, then come up with a system of keeping up with all these things you need to do. Get a day planner, start using an app like Google Calendar. Try a few different tools to help you schedule and plan your day until you find something that works for you. The main goals are to have the tool keep track of the information for you, and to build some sort of structure into your day and week that allows you to carve out chunks of time that are as distraction free as possible. You’ll be amazed at how you can eliminate distraction by so much and get a lot more work done with the same number of hours daily.
The above tips is how to eliminate distraction in your life and get more work done.
Give it a try.
I would like to know your thoughts on these sources of distraction, which of them affects you the most and how are you working towards eliminating the identified distraction sources from your daily routine. Drop a comment below.