Have a Productive Week: How to Cut Out the DistractionsPosted: 19th of January 2015 by
Did you know that being distracted can make you work less effectively? Of course you did – but you might not realise exactly how much! An article by The Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that s distraction of just 2.8 seconds can double you error rate, while a 4.1 second distraction from your work will triple you error rate. But that’s not all, distractions at work will ruin your work flow and mean that you take longer to get tasks done – as we have already seen, with more errors. To tackle this it would be great if you could just tell everyone to leave you alone while you get on with your work – but this is not always possible. So, how do you juggle the need to get your work done with managing those other calls on your working time?
The solution is to simply manage the people who distract you so that they understand that you have something important to complete, and you need to be left alone to do it! This is, however, often easier said than done – since those who are most likely to walk over for a chat, or make demands on your time are going to be friends, family, or your boss!
The problem is one that has been made worse by open office or open-door policies in the work place, as well as the constant potential distraction of modern communication. Emails, social media feeds, and telephone calls all add to the minefield of workplace distractions. However, it is not a case of technology causing the problem – but rather a matter of how we manage it in our everyday lives.
Edward Brown, author of ‘The Time bandit Solution,’ has investigated the situation to determine, “The Internet didn’t invent the interruption culture any more than it invented gambling.” Instead, he insists we are faced by a whole culture of distraction into which technology plays just a part.
In order to be more productive, we need to find ways to manage these small interruptions – perhaps by explaining to others, politely, that you need a moment to work on what you are doing and you will be more than happy to speaking with them when you can offer your full attention.
This tactic may not always work, and some bosses or colleagues will be more demanding. However, if you can manage to scrape back just a few minutes of distraction-free time it will make a huge difference to your working day.
With some saying that distractions cost them between three and five hours a day – something clearly needs to be done!
You could try setting distraction-free times, when you shouldn’t be disturbed except in real emergencies. Tell others that you need the time to complete your work. You can split this into two types of work – that which requires your full attention – like a project – and the more repetitive type of work that you can do quicker if you’re left alone to get into the flow of things. This can be anything from data entry to stuffing envelopes.
You may be able to work from home from time to time – which may be a good way to cut off all those work-place distractions.
Whatever techniques you use, you will also make sure to cut out any self-imposed distractions – such as constantly checking your phone, day-dreaming, or otherwise not getting down to work. However, once you manage this, you should find that your distraction-free periods become your most productive parts of the day.
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