Best Practices in HR

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Dave Rietsema
  March 13, 2018

How to Handle Distractions and Restore Your Productivity

Distractions are something that nearly everyone struggles with. There is a shift that occurs in our minds when we switch from passively engaging in reflections to actively focusing on a task at hand and it can be tough to keep ourselves from slipping back into that passive default mode when working on a task. Unfortunately, losing focus can hamper productivity and even stress us as it takes longer to complete tasks.

If you find yourself struggling to ignore distractions and focus while at work, the follow tips may be helpful.

Acknowledge Your Distraction

Noticing when you are distracted and taking a few seconds or minutes to address the distraction can keep it from dragging your focus away repeatedly throughout the day. It may help to keep a notepad nearby so that you can write down items that are stealing your attention away from your work. In some cases, this can provide a bit of reassurance that the distracting items will be given attention later.

Compartmentalize Your Day and Tasks

Breaking down tasks or planning work hours may help to overcome feelings of overwhelm that could be causing you to turn to distractions for relief. Seeing a reasonable checklist of tasks or a schedule for your work day may assist you in visualizing how your work will be completed. With a roadmap of your day in front of you, it may be easier to stay on track.

Minimize Coworker Distractions

Coworkers popping in at the wrong time or messaging you in the middle of tasks can become a frustrating distraction. Establishing boundaries, such as certain hours that you shouldn’t be contacted, may help to minimize this distraction. This technique may also work with friends and relatives if you work remotely or are contacted frequently while at work.

Control Distracting Sites

It is very common for us to drift into social media or to begin looking at distracting websites when doing work on the computer. In some cases, it may be helpful to limit yourself to looking at these sites only once every few hours or only after a certain number of tasks have been completed. If you still have trouble avoiding distracting websites, you may wish to limit your access to certain sites during work hours.

Get the Energy Out

Excess energy can make us fidgety and more easily distracted. Exercising before work or during your lunch break may help you to expend some of that energy. If you realize that you’re fidgeting and are still hours away from break time, simply walking around the office or standing up from your desk and doing a few stretches could refocus your mind.

Give Yourself a Break

Distractions that come up while in the middle of a task can be annoying and harmful to productivity, but distractions aren’t inherently bad. Allowing your mind to wander at certain times of day may actually restore your motivation and creativity. The trick is to allow yourself to focus on the distractions only at appropriate times so that your work hours are being used to their greatest potential.