We’ve all been there. Attempting to concentrate on getting something completed and someone in your open office plan area starts eating potato chips. Or maybe someone ten feet away is having a conversation on the phone, and it’s long distance, and the person on the other end of the line is hard of hearing. Or what about an informal group meeting nearby – perfectly harmless and professionally acceptable, but their communal bursts of laughter, camaraderie and idea sharing is distracting you right out of your zone.
Or do you work from home? There might be kids or pets running around, or perhaps your cellphone and doorbell are dinging constantly because well meaning friends or family think you don’t have much going on.
Before you lose your cool and get frustrated – consider your options.
Let people know you’ve got something going on. If you’re at work and in an open setting where people are likely to interrupt you – pull out the ear buds if need be and just verbally let your team know you need to power through something for the next hour (or however long you think you need). If you’re at home – you can set your phone, email and texting to be an automated message response or simply put it out of sight or on airplane mode so that flashes and notifications don’t constantly pull you out of what you’re doing. If you’re lucky enough to have a private office in either setting, close the door – but still communicate to your key team members if you can, that you need some solo time.
Block it Out
Speaking of the buds, I personally find music distracting. I’ll start bopping my head or gosh maybe even start singing (eek, sorry folks!) and don’t even realize it. Before I know it I’m wanting to create a new playlist instead of doing what I need to do. I’ve found that classical or other music without a catchy beat or lots of words helps to keep me focused and on track.
If you’re at home alone, you could even forgo ear buds and play something in the room. If you have kids around, depending on their ages – this could be a signal for “as long as this music is playing it’s quiet time”. Everyone has their special “thing” to do while the music is playing. It will likely take some time to establish this practice and get it to work, but start with short increments (like 2 minutes) and build up from there. Here are 7 Great Tips that might help.
Set a Timer
No joke! If you really have a finite set of time to do something, hold yourself accountable. Set a timer and stick to it. That means no getting up for more coffee, or something else you think you “need” during that time. Before you set the timer, be ready – get your tea or water or whatever you think you could possibly need (within reason!) and get to it. When you’re done, stop. Did you get enough accomplished? Do you need to move on or set another timer? Here are 5 Ways a timer might help you with getting through your day.
This time management tool works well in another way too. Do you find yourself practically chained to your desk and before you know it, it’s two o’clock and you haven’t eaten, drank water or visited the rest room all day? That’s equally unproductive for your body and mind and isn’t sustainable in the long run. In that case – you need to set a timer to remind yourself to get up and move around! Ideally every hour, but don’t let more than two hours go by without getting up and moving your body. Prolonged sitting is now considered to actually be dangerous – here’s why.
Let me know your tips for staying on task in the comments – and share this with others who you think might appreciate these three nuggets to help with productivity and feelings of accomplishment. We all need a boost sometimes!