Summer brings with it a wealth of fun activities. Whether you’re headed off on vacation, skipping out early for an after work activity in the sun, meeting friends at a patio bar, or fantasizing about that long jog you’re going to take at 8PM, just because you can — there’s much to look forward to and take advantage of during these long hours of daylight. But that, too, makes summer a highly distracting time. No one could blame you for spending more time fantasizing about what’s to come than continuing on as the efficiency, productivity, and creativity machine you usually are. Still, you’ll feel better — and so will your boss — when you consciously find ways to stay on task this summer; that way, they’ll be no guilt when you really are off. Let’s take a look at a few great ways you can overcome summertime distraction at the workplace.
1. Block Social Media To Stay On Task
Social media can be a huge distraction, and it can prevent you from staying on task. This is true throughout the year, but it is especially so during the summer when your friends and family members are posting alluring photos of turquoise oceans alongside distracting articles and games. There you are, simply logging onto Facebook “for a second.” Before you know it, an hour of scrolling through picture perfect vacation posts has gone by. You are now officially jealous and totally off task.
Do yourself a favor and install the SelfControl app, which blocks sites selectively for up to 24 hours at a time. With your social media feeds blocked, you’ll find your abilities to concentrate greatly improved. Besides, you’ll feel much more satisfied when you’re finally allowed to log back in at the end of the day.
If it’s gotten so bad that any internet connection is a distraction, install and run Webtrate instead. This app will block access to the internet entirely. Of course, this isn’t possible for many of you, as you’ll still need access to email, but it can be great when you really need to put your head down and get a ton done. Just let your teammates know you’ll be offline for a set time before you go.
2. Lock Up Your Phone
Website and internet blocking apps are great in theory, but they’re not worth much if you’re simply going to login on your phone instead. If this is a problem for you, lock your phone in a desk drawer until you’re done with your to do list. Or, if this isn’t enough, hand your phone to a coworker and tell them not to give it back to you until a certain time, no matter how hard you beg.
If you’re worried about important people in your life like your family or your boss not having access to you, let them know ahead of time what you’ll be doing and why. Give them the number to the front desk instead. Then have them call in during cases of emergency so you can use the phone on your desk if you have one, or so that you can get your phone back from your colleague. This may sound like a cumbersome workaround, but for us phone addicts out there, it’s a must to stay on task!
3. Treat Your Email Like a Distinct Task
Email can be just as distracting as social media sites and the internet at large. Each new email is an alluring bit of stimulation, and our brains respond accordingly to every single ping. “I’ll just check to see what this is really quickly” we think. We’re then, once again, sucked into the vortex. If the email is something we know have to reply to, we do so immediately. We distract ourselves entirely from what we were doing. But even worse are those stressful emails we don’t know quite how to reply to. You know, the ones that take up even more time to think through. In summer, all of these distracting traits just worsen as our friends and family members send long, multi-recipient email chains to make plans, as well as update emails complete with vacation photos.
Again, it may sound like sacrilege, but try logging out of your email for the day, or at least for several hours at a time. When you’re on email, treat sorting through it and replying to it as your one and only task. Give yourself a time limit to motivate yourself, and work through it bit by bit. You’d be surprised how much more quickly and efficiently you do so than when you’re constantly toggling back and forth between other tasks.
4. Take Strategic Breaks To Stay On Task
Taking breaks is a great way to refresh and rejuvenate a tired mind — they just have to the right breaks. Taking a break to do something that will suck you into a permanently distracted mode, for example, will be less effective than, say, getting up and away from your computer to talk with a colleague, take a lunch, or walk around a bit. In other words, when you take a break, it’s important that you truly take a break. Continuing a distracted form of what you were already doing when you were on task isn’t doing you any favors.
Let your mind wander and relax for a set amount of time. Give yourself 5 or 10 timed minutes before getting back to it. The goal here is that when you do start up again, there will be no funny business or waffling around. When you’re on, you’re on; when you’re off, you’re off.
Summer can be a distracting time at work. No one would blame you for having a little more trouble concentrating. But it can still be a productive time, just as long as you get a little strategic to stay on task.