Distractions abound at the office: The phone is ringing off the hook, your inbox pings whenever a message arrives, and Skype messages are pouring in. Though you can’t wear blinders while you plow through your daily responsibilities, you can stay focused whether you operate a home-based business or commute to an office space every day.
- When working online, turn your chat feature off so that friends won’t think you are available. What begins as a short chat can chip away at your day and noticeably affect your productivity.
- Schedule a time or two during the day to check your email rather than constantly clicking ‘refresh.’ Unless you’re waiting on mail to arrive, any messages you receive can likely wait until you have dedicated time to read them.
- Turn off your cell phone if you don’t use it for work. A phone that buzzes every time you receive a notification can find you repeatedly glancing away from your computer to see if anything new has happened. If the phone needs to stay on, put it out of sight so you can focus.
- If you work from home, leave the television off. You can easily get engrossed in a program and lose valuable time that adds up incrementally. Approach television viewing as the slow but definite loss of income; you might find yourself more inclined to leave the set off.
- If you’re more productive in the early morning, see about arriving at work early so you can get started before your coworkers and their interruptions arrive. Similarly, consider coming in later and working into the evening if you hit your stride in the late afternoon. If you work for yourself, set your own hours. You can both meet your clients’ needs and adhere to a modified schedule.
- Take a break once an hour and get away from your work so you can clear your head. Go for a short walk, do jumping jacks, or close your office door and meditate for a few minutes. Even if you just duck away to the restroom to splash water on your face, it’s important to break up your routine and come back refreshed.
- Make a to-do list at the end of your workday. The project you have been working on will be fresh in your memory and you’ll be able to detail with more clarity what needs to be done when the next workday arrives.
- Don’t multitask. The concept of the octopus-armed employee needs to fade into myth. Rather than splitting your energy between tasks, invest your time in one project at a time. You will be able to cross the task off your list and move on to the next project with a clear head and no worries that other work still demands your attention.
- Get enough sleep and exercise and eat healthful meals. While you can’t always sleep eight hours a night, get to the gym for a workout, or avoid a sweet treat, you can build upon your awareness of what your body needs. A fresh supply of rest, movement, and fuel can help you amp up your production.
- Do something productive with your free time that will allow you to de-stress. Consider journaling about your day, making art, or chatting on the phone. Start the new workday with a clear head and few, if any, worries.
Though you can’t avoid every distraction, you can employ subtle changes that will help you keep your nose to the grindstone and achieve your goals with success. Your productive day awaits!