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Practical Ways to Eliminate Workplace Distractions

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Business Advice

Workplace distractions are inevitable. Unfortunately, they seem to rear their ugly head at times when you are on deadline or desperately trying to shorten your ever-growing to-do list. Whether it’s your phone relentlessly shouting at you, one of your guys stopping by for a chit chat, or the luring temptation of the internet being only a click away,  there are a number of distractions in the typical work day that threaten our productivity. Despite your greatest efforts to focus, the once 8-hour work day is now best-described as a never-ending battle between the clock and your brain. Here are some of our tips to help you win the everyday battle against distractions in the workplace:

Distraction: Email

Email needs no introduction. We all know answering emails can turn into a full-time job if we allow it to. We also know that checking emails constantly throughout the day leaves us scatter-brained and completely unfocused on whatever important task we may be working on.

Solution: Plain and simple: turn off your email. Close your outlook, log out of your email account and turn off the email on your phone. You can even set your email default status to closed, which will eliminate the temptation to start of the day checking emails and wasting hours of your time first thing in the morning. Designate specific windows of time throughout the day when you open your email again and answer your emails, but be sure to have a time limit. The last thing you want to do is open your email inbox and continue to open and respond to emails as they come in. designate 15 – 20 minutes of your time to answering emails and once that time is up, close it down until your next window of time comes up.   

Distraction: Internet

Ahh the glimmering lure of facebook and twitter right at your fingertips. And we can’t forget ESPN and Sports Illustrated just a mere click away. It’s hard to resist a little bit of “harmless” entertainment in the work day and it’s easy to justify a 5 minute facebook update, but what appears to be a quick mental break adds up to hours of unproductive “mental breaks” by the end of the day.

Solution: turn off the internet. Unplug your connection. Turn off your wireless. Without the ability to open the web, you don’t have to grapple with your own self-discipline.

Distraction: Long breaks

Extended lunch breaks and repeated coffee breaks may seem like a great way to rejuvenate the mind and, once in a while, they may be. But a long break often leaves you lethargic, unmotivated and completely removed from the productivity wheel you were riding before you took the break.

Solution: frequent, short mental breaks are better than an extended “party in the afternoon” break. Take 15 minute breaks every couple of hours to re-charge your batteries. You’ll appreciate the spark in energy and the boost in endorphins something like a quick walk, chat with a friend or (if you’re one of the lucky ones) a quick nap will bring.

Distraction: multi-tasking

We are experts at multitasking. The problem is, as we’ve perfected our ability to handle a million things at once, we’ve sabotaged our ability to actually be productive. Studies have shown that, while we can relentlessly juggle a variety of tasks at once, rarely do we complete these tasks or accomplish them on time or to the best of our ability.

Solution: Write a priority list in the early morning. Start tackling the tasks you wrote down on your priority list, one by one, and don’t do anything else until you’ve completed them. Too many projects opened at once will do nothing but induce anxiety. Schedule your own uninterrupted time to get work done, without distractions like the phone or email which trigger your multitasking instincts. Open one project at a time and dedicate your full attention to its completion.

Distraction: Noise

Your co-worker stops by to shoot the breeze as your nestled deep in a pile of work; it’s hard to hear yourself think over the office chatter. Noise from colleagues or your surrounding environment can leave you unsettled and struggling to get a hold of your thoughts.

Solution: try closing the door, wearing headphones, or putting the radio on low to keep white noise in the background. Instead of fixating on the noise and cursing under your breath, find a way to muffle the sound.

Distraction: Environmental conditions

Poor lighting and feeling either too cold or hot is uncomfortable. This we all can attest to. And while we relentlessly forge on, trying not to give in to our discomfort, ultimately, we’re doing more harm than good by simply ignoring the issue. We end up fixating on the issue, despite our best effort to ignore it.

Solution: Adjust the heating/cooling and lighting. There’s no one solution to this distraction, except to do what you need to do to suit your comfort level and get the nagging voice of discomfort out of your head!

Landscape Management Network is a collection of systems, tools, and training to help great contractors build and manage great businesses. Visit the LMN website.

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