Are you having trouble finding time to complete your work amid all the time wasters and distractions in your office?
Meetings, email, chat, robocalls, spam, social media, “pop ins,” software updates, loud cube mates and more can keep you from doing your best work. Don’t let those pesky tasks stack up on you.
Below are seven ways to work around any workplace distraction:
1. Set up a “work day.”
Have a project deadline looming? Set up a “work day” with your team by locking yourselves in a conference room for the entire day. Set your calendars to “busy” and order in lunch. Establish goals and assign tasks beforehand so you can focus during your time together.
2. Turn off email.
For years, I was in the habit of answering email immediately so I could clear my inbox. I then realized this was distracting me from work that required focus and concentration (like writing and editing). Now, I keep my email program closed, except during designated “email time,” first thing in the morning, immediately after lunch and before the end of the day.
3. Say “no” to meetings—or attend a small part.
If you can’t make a meeting, say so. Offer to follow up later. If your attendance is required, put a time limit on how long you can stay. As William Churchill says in “The Crown,” “…if there is one thing I have learned in 52 years of public service, it is that there is no problem so complex, nor crisis so grave, that it cannot be satisfactorily resolved within 20 minutes.”
4. Break big tasks into manageable chunks.
Stop waiting for the “perfect” time to complete a big project. That time will likely never come. Instead, break the big project into smaller projects and set goals to complete them between meetings and interruptions. Complete the outline for your presentation one day, and use the next to find all your resources. You’ll be less frustrated and less likely to procrastinate.
5. Listen to podcasts.
Do you need to stay up to date on industry news, but don’t have time to read that stack of trade journals or wade through an inbox full of email newsletters? Try listening to podcasts. Find one to help keep you informed or to learn about a new topic.
6. Take reading or copyediting tasks with you.
Still have a lot of reading to get through? Take it with you and review it during “down” time. For example, my kids have piano lessons every Monday afternoon. While I’m waiting on them, I read an article or proofread one of our publications. I also take publications or work-related books with me when I’m at the hair salon or if I know I’ll have a long wait at the doctor’s office.
7. Spend time on Friday preparing for Monday.
Are there any small tasks you can complete on Friday afternoon — when you’re in a good mood and feeling efficient — so you don’t have to face them on Monday? It’s tempting to procrastinate and wait until Monday to complete certain tasks, but when Monday morning arrives, you’ll be grateful you took care of it on Friday.
What productivity hacks work for you, Ragan/PR Daily readers?