Between chatty colleagues, the internet and all of our digital devices, the workplace can be an incredibly distracting environment — the kind that — SQUIRREL! — might just keep you from getting any work done at all if you’re not careful. Keeping on task and getting things done takes some serious strategizing. A few techniques for overcoming workplace distractions that you might give a whirl:
1. Don’t Multitask
Numerous studies have shown that our brains really can only handle one task at a time — two, if both are very simple. Trying to do more than that only degrades our performance on each one, and lengthens the amount of time needed for completion. Just think about what happens when you open a million and one tabs on your browser. Are you really digging down deeply into each one, or are you getting so distracted, you can’t finish reading any one of them? Stick to one thing at a time.
2. Save Creative and Difficult Work for When You’ve Got Energy
Creative and other thought-heavy work requires a lot more energy than basic tasks, like checking email or scheduling. If you know you’ve got the most energy in the morning, start your day off with these tasks, so you can give them your all. Alternatively, that new burst of energy you get mid-afternoon is also a great time to do these kinds of tasks. Save the dull stuff for the post-lunch slump.
3. Work Out Your Brain
If you’ve been working in the same way for awhile, it’s not like you can switch suddenly to new habits and excel. This is especially true if you’re a big multitasker. Start making your transition by, say, blocking your internet for just 5 minutes, then building up to 10, then half an hour and so forth, until you’re finally able to focus in on one task at a time. Our brains are just like muscles, and they need just as much training to get them where you want them to be.
4. Get Comfortable
In today’s device-centric workplace, pain is often the biggest distraction of all. After all, our bodies weren’t built to hunch over a tiny keyboard all day. And it’s no wonder doing so can so quickly lead to debilitating injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome. As such, ergonomic accessories like an adjustable keyboard and a laptop and tablet stand are essential for keeping you focused. Just find the position that’s right for you. You’ll end up working in comfort, saving your attention for your work, not your pain.
For more on this fascinating topic, we highly recommend giving the following article, How to Train Your Brain to Stay Focused, a read.
How do you stay on task at work? Let us know your best tips in the comments below.