Between constant meetings, phone calls, and emails, staying productive at work can be a challenge. I recently participated in a webinar that was focused around staying productive in the work place. One message that was highlighted during the discussion was “Eliminating Distractions.” The truth is the majority of us get pushed off balance by the slightest interruptions at work. These interruptions can range from external annoyances like loud phone talkers to self-distractions such as Facebook, personal email, or surfing the Web. The challenge is to manage these distractions so they do not erode your productivity. Staying productive can be significantly improved by taking some simple steps to lighten your workload. Below are five action items to implement in your daily routine.
- Get a head-start by planning your schedule for the next day the night before you leave the office: Prioritize your “to do” list and leave blocks of time open to address unexpected tasks or problems that arise.
- Eliminate potential distractions: Although interruptions during the workday are inevitable, minimize them to the extent possible. If you have an office with a door, keep it closed. When a co-worker is looking to shoot the breeze, let him or her know that you’re trying to finish a project and would be happy to chat later. Turn off all electronic distractions; personal/work email, silence your cell phone and avoid spending unproductive time on the internet.
- Learn to say no: Saying no is sometimes the right thing to do depending on your work load or what is being asked of you.
- Don’t let email run your day: We are all used to having our email open and it is very difficult at times not to check it. The challenge becomes being able to balance addressing those fires that do come up and need your immediate attention with the routine every day emails that can be scheduled for a less productive time during the day.
- Technology: Use it but don’t become enslaved by it. There are some excellent tools out there now that could greatly improve your work day by organizing and saving you time.
As with all aspects of life, distractions at work will be inescapable. The key is learning how to manage them.