How to productively stay on task even if Angry Birds are beckoning

December 22nd, 2010 No comments

You can WANT to be as productive as possible, but that will never happen unless you can avoid distractions. Whether you work from your home office or in a cubicle, there are interruptions that pop up everywhere to keep from completing your to-do list and getting your work done.

Let’s start with you “work-at-home” types. The biggest distractions are in your living room/family room, and right in front of you in your office. Yes. I’m talking about your electronics. Whether it’s the lure of daytime TV, video game consoles, the internet, or the many games available on your cell phone, your electronic gizmos cause the biggest problems.

The best thing to do is to turn them off. If you work in a home office, close the door. Lock yourself in if you have to. That will keep you from turning on the television or playing a quick level of Assassin’s Creed. Since those methods won’t work for your computer and cell phone, the best way to avoid distracting yourself with the internet or Angry Birds is by setting small goals. Tell yourself that you can play a game or surf the ‘net after completing an hour of work. After you’ve finished that hour, you’ll be on a roll, or will be so proud of how much you’ve accomplished that you won’t want to goof off at all.

Now, for those of you that work in an office setting, avoiding distractions is a bit harder. After all, there’s no way to get around having to answer that ringing phone or talking co-worker. Those are the two biggest things that will derail your train of thought and keep you from getting the most done.

However, if that co-worker isn’t talking about work, simply wait for a break in the conversation and excuse yourself with a quick, “Sorry, I have to get this done,” and point at the giant stacks of paperwork on your desk, or at the documents pulled up on your computer. (If he or she is talking about work-related stuff, you’re probably stuck paying attention.)

A ringing phone has to be answered, but if you can pass that call off to someone else, go right ahead. In some cases, the call isn’t even something that you can deal with, so send it on to the correct employee. But if that call is your supervisor or client, you’re better off talking to him or her yourself.

Another obvious distraction in the office is the internet. It’s easy to be thrown off track by checking the scores of last night’s game, your personal email, or even your Facebook profile. The best way to avoid those is by using the same technique as those working from home: promise yourself fifteen minutes of goofing off after accomplishing a solid hour of productive work.

Believe it or not, small breaks are good for your productivity, even if that break is spent updating your email contacts with Scrubly. It’s good to give your brain a chance to re-set every once in a while, and will help relieve stress. Spending nine hours with your nose to grindstone might help you get a lot done, but will it be done well? Just don’t overdo the goofing off and find a happy balance between the two. That’s what will make you successful.

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