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Tips on increasing productivity and battling workplace distractions

Posted by | October 16, 2017 | Productivity, Workplace

Via CBC News : Tips on increasing productivity and battling workplace distractions

Turn off the notifications on everything — ignore the beeping phone noise every once and a while

Many workers need to concentrate deeply to get their work done, yet workplace design, technology and our colleagues conspire to distract us.

This has never been truer given workplace layouts with he notifications our phones and computers generate and how we’ve convinced ourselves our entourage requires a response to everything all the time.

Distractions are problematic. They sap the finite resource we have between our ears.

The energy required to restart our concentration after being distracted by checking email, talking to a colleague or responding to a phone notification is significant.

People and others who work with their hands figured this out a long time ago. When is the last time you saw a welder with an eye on their Facebook feed and a hand on a welding torch?

Knowledge workers could learn a lot from the disciplined focus and concentration trades people demonstrate every day.

Here are a few steps to counter the productivity-robbing and brain-power-depleting distractions.

Carving out, scheduling and protecting time for focused concentration.

Removing yourself from the hubbub works.

Employers are increasingly amenable to working from home or another location to accomplish those specific tasks requiring quiet and full attention.

Thankfully modern office designs are including more and more quiet spaces for meetings or focused work that can be reserved.

Having a notification-free zone can help too.

Turning off the notifications on everything and learning to ignore the urge to constantly check stuff that beeps, vibrates and sings you a song is huge.

You are rewarding the same part of your brain that enjoys sugar and you are indulging in a very destructive habit that is killing your focus and productivity.

Email batching

Evidence from researchers at UBC associate increased levels of workplace stress to how often you check emails.

Try carving out times in the day to send out emails, rather than respond every second.

Practitioners of email batching schedule 2-4 windows per day when they do nothing but send emails.This requires you to refrain from believing the world will stop if you don’t respond in milliseconds.

You may indeed annoy others, check that, you will annoy those who are conditioned to rapid fire email responses from you. They’ll get used to it.

It’s better to disappoint some folks by responding a few hours later and deliver required results over pleasing yourself and others but not delivering on the work that needs deep thinking.

Even worse is dragging unfinished work home at night and blaming distractions you could manage otherwise with a bit of discipline, scheduling and systems.

Devise an end of work day mantra to tell your brain your work is done for today

Author Cal Newport sheepishly admits his personal end of day routine is to rise from his chair and boldly proclaim “system shutdown complete.”

He’s referring to himself not his computer.

It’s a playful but clear signal to his brain that it’s now time to recharge with food, family and leisure not to mention much needed sleep.

He makes a compelling case for why you’ll be way better off tomorrow by doing a deliberate work shutdown at days end.

His book Deep Work-Rules for Focused Success in the Age of Distraction is chock-full of other helpful strategies.

Bad habits regarding distractions are destructive to our wellbeing and our productivity. As leaders, when we model such behaviour we infect others.

By “shutting the door and unplugging the phone” you give yourself a chance to minimize the productivity-robbing nature of workplace distractions.

Time to check the afternoon’s email batch.

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