You know what your team needs: confidence, clarity, and focus. These three important elements of your organizational development help employees to understand the organization’s goals and develop the skills to accomplish them.
But what happens when they can’t concentrate long enough to finish—or even start—their tasks? With so many disruptions, from Twitter and Facebook to email, phone calls, and chatty colleagues, it can be extremely difficult. Developing the skills to focus on is so incredibly important.
Now put down your phone. Don’t even think about opening that email!
We’ve got the top 10 tips to avoid distractions at work. Share with your team for maximum benefit.
Shut your door:
If you are lucky enough to have an office to yourself, shut the door. Keep your mind from wondering about what is going on out there and concentrate. This also stops people from popping in to say hello or discuss last night’s ball game.
If you work in a cubicle it can be nearly impossible to block out phone conversations, humming, sneezing, and all-around-annoying noises coming from your coworkers.
Try headphones and a relaxing coffee-house mix on Spotify. Or if you need to read and write without songs in your head, try SimplyNoise.com, which produces soothing white noise for free.
Try a to-do list:
To-do lists are a must-have item. Whether you jot down thoughts in a notebook or use the Sticky Notes app on your desktop, WRITE IT DOWN. Depending on your workload, make daily or weekly lists based on priority. When your tasks are staring you in the face, it is easy to turn down that next smoke break.
Turn off alerts:
OK, we know it is tough, but just do it. Turn off alerts for emails, phone calls, and texts. Set a schedule to check your emails and stick to it. When you are working on a project, turn your phone to “do not disturb” and check messages later. It’ll be tough at first, but fight the urge to peak every five minutes and the reward will be great.
Just say no:
This one is even harder, but it is necessary. When someone asks, “You got a second?” or “Can you do this real quick?”, don’t feel bad about saying no. Here’s a good rule of thumb: When someone interrupts you, ask how long it will take and when the task needs to be completed, quickly contemplate if you can handle it.
Explain what you can or can’t do based on your to-do list. And if you do say no, tell them why: A big meeting to prep for or a looming deadline is always understandable.
Give just five minutes:
Sometimes you just can’t say no. Instead say, “I have five minutes, how can I help you?” Don’t be shy about letting them know when that time has expired.
Ask for prioritization:
If your boss is asking for your time, you need to give in. But let them know what else you are working on and ask which he or she would like you to complete first.
This lets them know that you can’t do everything at once, but that you will indeed get everything on your list done.
Find a secret workspace:
Ask your boss (if you have one) if it is OK first, then find a space away from everyone else to concentrate. Whether it is a picnic table outside the office or an empty workspace upstairs try it out. Removing yourself from your usual environment of distractions can make all the difference in your precision.
Work during outside hours:
We know no one wants to hear this, but coming to the office early or staying late, or even working on weekends can help you focus. Are you a morning person? Get to the office an hour early and enjoy 60 minutes of silence and bliss.
Work with your higher-ups to figure out what works best for you. If you come in early, they may just let you take off early, too.
Set a good example:
If you don’t want people to interrupt you, don’t distract them, easy as that. Be a good neighbor and most people will return the favor
Got a great tip for avoiding distractions that we didn’t share here? Help others focus by leaving a comment below.
Mark is the co-founder of Kesa Inc. He holds a MA in Leadership from Royal Roads University and is an ICF Certified Executive Coach. Mark’s first career was as a highly successful national champion college coach working in both team and individual sports and brings that experience to his work in organizations over the past 20 years. He is outstanding and sought after presenter.