Technology has radically reshaped the modern workplace over the past few decades and will continue to do so. Our offices are now becoming portable and virtual in many cases. Technological advancements have allowed for greater efficiency, increased productivity, more collaboration, improved budgeting, and a heightened level of security. However, it has also resulted in increased distraction in the workplace. While there are many obvious distractions such as smart phones, Facebook, and news sites sometimes it is the very technology that is meant to enhance the office experience that is getting us side-tracked these days. Here are some examples and solutions:
- Email: While you’re busy working on a project or writing a proposal a new email comes in. Suddenly a notification may appear on your screen and a red number may show up on your inbox icon trying to grab your attention. In our increasingly connected world where prompt communication has become the norm it can be tempting to respond to emails right away. However, some emails can wait. One great way to manage email distraction is to establish check points throughout the day. For example, checking your email in the morning at the beginning of your workday, before lunch, and before leaving the office.
- Phone Calls: When your phone rings at work it can be hard not to answer it, particularly if it’s work related. If you get a lot of personal calls at work it can be a good idea to let your friends and family know not to call you during work hours unless it is an emergency. If you get a lot of non-important work calls it can be okay to screen them and make a note to call them back once you have completed a task. Only break your concentration on important or error prone tasks for the calls that need to be taken immediately.
- Office Chat Tools: While office chat tools are great for enhancing office communication and keeping the noise level to a minimum they can also be distracting. You may want to go offline if you’re working on a project and don’t want your concentration broken.
- Social Media: While working on a computer it can be very difficult to overcome the temptation to check your Facebook and other social media websites throughout the day. If social media marketing is part of your job this can be particularly challenging. One way to minimize distractions is to ensure that you are not getting notifications from social networks throughout your work day. Turn off push notifications and email notifications for social networks such as Facebook and Instagram. The social media distraction problem is so prevalent that a myriad of apps now exist to help people not become distracted by social media such as Freedom, LeechBlock, StayFocusd, Cold Turkey, and SelfControl.
- Refine and Edit Email and Social Media Filters: If you find yourself on newsletter lists you don’t really read unsubscribe. If you keep getting notifications that aren’t important change your notifications settings so you don’t get them anymore.
- Set Aside Time For Distractions: Some distractions may prove to be inevitable and eventually you may need to refresh and break your concentration. Setting aside a specific window of time for this can help you focus on the task at hand knowing that in an hour you can take a break and watch that cat video your friend messaged you or respond to that email.