Donuts in the break room, a hilarious coworker, a text message from your family, Facebook—distractions are everywhere, and they can add up to a significant decrease in productivity. Sometimes you just need to focus. Whether you have an important deadline, a big project, or simply want to prove how good you are at your job, maximizing your productivity can lead to bonuses, raises, and promotions!
Here are some tips to optimize your time on the clock.
1. Take Steps to Block Tech Interruptions
At one point or another, we’ve all said we’re going to try spending less time on our phones. But unless we take concrete steps to block tech interruptions, chances are phone usage won’t budge much.
Keep your phone in a purse, briefcase, or drawer. Few of us can resist the temptation of looking at a fresh notification—and apps have made it so that we’re constantly receiving a variety of alerts, whether it’s a great deal from Amazon or a message from a Facebook friend. One click leads to another and before you know it you’ve lost a quarter of an hour on something unimportant.
If your position requires use of social media or frequent texts, consider keeping a separate work phone. Alternatively, you can simply turn off notifications for apps you don’t use at work.
2. Handwrite Your To-Do List
Handwritten to-do lists aren’t for everyone, but we recommend everyone try it because physically writing something down increases cognitive engagement. A planner can help you budget your time, set priorities, and get a sense of how many tasks are on your plate. Plus, you can enjoy the feeling of accomplishment every time you check something off your list!
3. Block Off Email Time
The average employee spends 13 hours per week reading, deleting, sorting, and sending emails. That comes out to about 28% of your workweek! Checking your email every five or ten minutes can slow down your work tempo. Instead, try checking it only once an hour or only after you finish each task.
For individuals who get a lot of important emails that require carefully crafted responses, consider doing all of these in one block at the beginning of the work day.
4. Consider Your Health
Sometimes lack of focus can’t be blamed on Facebook. Routine sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, and even dehydration have a negative impact on your cognitive functions. All of these can lead to low energy levels and an inability to focus.
Most adults (18 to 64 years of age) need between seven and nine hours of sleep. Furthermore, depriving yourself of sleep during the workweek with the intention to “catch up” during the weekend doesn’t work. Your body thrives on consistency. In order to recover from lack of sleep your body needs several days of consistently good sleep—not just one weekend.
5. Give Your Eyes a Break
It’s not just your brain that gets tired from focusing on a task; screens can also be particularly hard on your eyes. Your eye may start feeling heavy and tired, and in some cases this can even lead to a headache.
Try the 20-20-20 exercise. Every 20 minutes focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This is an exercise often recommended to refresh your eyes from extended periods of screen time.
If you’re still struggling with eyesight fatigue and headaches, visit your optometrist to check whether you need glasses or an updated vision prescription.
No one knows you better than you! You understand what your biggest distractions are—whether it’s kitten videos online or office gossip. Find the ways that best work for you for minimizing distractions. Self-regulation is key.
While frequent breaks are an important part of a healthy work life, allowing distractions to infringe on time blocked off for work can derail your productivity. You deserve to flaunt your talents and feel accomplished. Don’t let unnecessary distractions keep you from being your best!