Reducing distractions in the workplace

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Bob Milliken

By Bob Milliken

Bob Milliken
Bob Milliken

Distractions are everywhere. Our phones, our computers, our tablets, our co-workers, and on and on. When we’re trying to get work done, there is always something, and it’s getting worse. We’re more connected to the Internet than ever before, and there is always one more thing we want to check. It’s safe to blame technology for this constant distraction, but we do need to step up and take a little responsibility for ourselves.
It’s tempting to give in to distraction and let your mind wander for a few minutes, but a few minutes can easily slip into 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, and before you know it, you’re through the first page of Reddit and you’ve filled your quota of cat pictures for the day. There’s nothing wrong with a distraction every once in a while, but when deadlines loom and projects need to get done, it can do more harm than good.
And that doesn’t mean missing your deadlines. The more distracted we become, the more stressed out we become. The deadlines aren’t going to go away, and the more distracted you are, the less time you’ll have to work. Productivity is lost.
What can you do to get productivity back and cut down on distractions? The first step is to be aware of them. Once you recognize what interferes with your work you can then begin to make changes that will add to your daily productivity.
Consider the source of your distractions. Your cell phone? Put it on silent, or better yet, turn it off and put it in a drawer. Out of sight and out of mind. Make sure you cannot hear any notification sounds, whether it’s a little ding or jingle or a vibration. This is crucial. Why? You may not realize it, but you’ve been trained to respond to those sounds, much like a cat to a can opener.
What about the Internet in general? If you’re working on a project and you already have the materials or information you need, consider cutting yourself off. If you’re connected to a WiFi network, disconnect. If you’re hardwired, pull the Ethernet cord out from the back of your computer. It may sound like a drastic step, but it works.
If you work in a busy environment, where people are chattering, phones are ringing and the printer is printing away, see if you can’t track down a different workspace. Look for an empty office or meeting room (don’t forget to ask first, just in case someone has a meeting later), and close the door.
In a work environment where meetings are frequent, it becomes difficult to set aside an uninterrupted block of time for detailed projects. You end up coming in early or staying late so that you can finally get things done. Make sure that you have scheduled time to focus on projects during the day. It needs to be written on your calendar.
It’s all about being proactive in cutting down the distraction. There isn’t a foolproof way to eliminate them all, but a little adjusting can go a long way. So, become aware of what your distractions are then find ways to manage them. You will be surprised at your increased level of productivity.
Connect with Bob at TheITguy@CascadiaSystemsGroup.com, or give us a call – 604.270.1730.
Your comments are appreciated – ComputerCents@CascadiaSystemsGroup.com

Bob Milliken is the president of Cascadia Systems Group.