6 Tips for Working Through Distractions

Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot : FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being back to work after Hurricane Sandy with my whole team has been a great morale booster.  So happy everyone made it in and I could see all their familiar faces — it’s one more sign that life is returning back to normal.

But it’s easy to get distracted with all the war stories being tossed around.  Plus — many people have to deal with insurance claims (myself mostly) and worries of childcare, heat, hot water and power at home.  So getting actual work done is quite a challenge.  Here’s some tips:

1.  Tune out: I’ve gotten very good at this over the years from working in busy news rooms but it does take some practice.  Engage for a bit and listen to all the stories from your coworkers but then at some point you have to mentally check out.  This will allow you to focus on tasks in front of you.  Sometimes headphones will help — I suggest blasting Dave Matthews Band or your favorite to drown out sounds around you.  

2.  Set deadlines:  As a TV producer I can’t get anything done without a deadline — I even trick myself into doing things on a timeline sometimes.  Think about how long it will take to do each task — and then repeat to yourself that you will give yourself that amount of time to only do that one thing.  Sometimes I have to tell myself several times over and over — but it really works once I start listening!

3.  Take a break:  At times getting up and walking around or grabbing lunch will help to get your productivity going.  It’s OK to get up from your desk and take a breather.

4.  Do easy stuff first:  This will give you a great sense of accomplishment and leave you wanting to do more.  If you scratch off the easy stuff from your to-do list — the big stuff won’t seem as daunting.

5.  Don’t answer your phone:  Only answer if it’s absolutely necessary, the person who is calling can give your information about the task you’re working on or you have an appointment for the call.  Otherwise — it’s not high priority and can wait.  Use discipline to wait to return the call.  I know it’s hard but it will help if you know ahead of time that you’re not going to answer any calls.

6.  Reward yourself: Stay off Facebook and Twitter until you finish a task.  Then you’re allowed to check it out as a treat.  If social media isn’t your thing then reward yourself with whatever will keep you motivated.

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2 replies
  1. John
    John says:

    Great points! I agree on #5. In my case, as a freelance programmer, I always put my phone (android) away from me so I won’t be tempted to use it in playing my favorite mobile games. Although it is also necessary to have a gadget beside you in case your boss will call you for a conference, but what I’m using (mainly for communication) is a low-end phone to call out and answer people (doesn’t have games and internet at all). I find myself very productive doing this and with the help of Time Doctor I can monitor how productive I am with the tasks I’m doing.

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