The Distraction Loop
It happens to the best of us: You’re plugging along in your workday, finishing tasks left and right, when all of a sudden your email notification dings..then dings again. And then Slack alerts you that someone sent a message. Suddenly, you find yourself lost in a notification loop, and you can’t seem to get out of it in order to get back to work. As technology advances, so does the ability for someone (or something) to get in touch with you at all times of the day. This also creates the possibility of unlimited distractions in your work, which cuts down on your ability to be productive. Keep reading for some of the ways you can start to eliminate distractions from your day.
Cell Phone Distractions
Today, a lot of the distractions we encounter come from our cell phones. A majority of apps available come with push notifications, which send a direct alert to your phone when something happens in the app. Typically, these are automatically turned on too. As a way to keep these interruptions to a minimum, as soon as you install an app, turn off the push notifications. If you don’t want them off entirely (i.e., it’s nice to be notified outside of your working hours that someone re-Tweeted you), you can look around in the app’s settings to see if there is an option to control your notification hours. This will help decrease the number of times you pick up your phone to check what app just made that noise.
Another solution to your app-distraction issue is to remove all social media apps from your phone. This will help keep you from mindlessly scrolling through your feed to see what everyone you know (and many you don’t) is up to the moment your focus is pulled from your work. Though it may seem a bit extreme, you will eventually break the habit of aimlessly picking up your phone.
Now, about those emails. Often times, people have a tendency to reply to emails very soon after receiving them. This can lead to multiple interruptions throughout your day, depending on how many messages you receive. One way to help eliminate this distraction is to turn off your email notifications, and set aside a certain time or times in the day to check your email. 15-25 minutes could be enough, or maybe two separate 20-minute blocks to read, respond, and record any actions from the emails could significantly help you remove some of the distractions from your day.
If you are in an open-office setting, accumulated noise from around the workplace could create distractions without anyone realizing it. If you are in a job that allows you to wear headphones (or some kind of ear covering), this could help you eliminate some of the background noise from your day. Alternately, if you are fortunate enough to have an office with a door, you could simply close your door for parts of the day. An important thing to remember here though is to inform your co-workers as to why you are working with your headphones on or your door closed. As with email, you could implement the times of the day when you leave your headphones off or your door open for people to drop by and discuss projects or ideas.
These tips are designed to be adjusted to best suit your work style and can be used individually or mixed together. The important thing is that you recognize when your distractions are happening, and what is causing them. Once you know that, you can decide which technique might be best for you and work on eliminating the distractions in your day.