Are you having a hard time focusing on what you’re doing? Do you feel that you get interrupted every time you finally get started on a project? Does time seem to slip right by you?
Let’s face it, distractions and interruptions happen, but if you don’t have a plan for handling them or recovering, you’re always going to feel like time is slipping away.
Distraction can come from different places-external and internal sources. We’ll be focusing on outside distractions this time around.
The external sources usually include things like ringing phones, that annoying alert notification of our email, or someone “just dropping in.”
When I started my business, I was blown away by how many people figured that since I was working from home I had free time to hang out, take phone calls all day or chauffer their kids around. At first I let it happen, I was nice and did favors. Then I realized that all I was doing was giving them permission to get in my way.
I had to come up with a plan which included me saying no and telling my friends and family that I was keeping work hours.
Whether you work at home or you’re in an office, you have to come up with a system and plan that works for you to keep the distractions to a minimum.
Plan ways to avoid interruptions or learn to deal with them when they happen so you can return to your planned activity.
Got a few interrupting distractions in your life? Try some of these tactics:
- Let voicemail pick up calls when working on an important task. Just because the phone is ringing doesn’t mean you have to pick it up. Using voicemail to intercept your calls is like having an assistant guard your door. Don’t let unexpected calls kill your flow.
- If you have to take a call and others are around, take notes when you’re on the phone because people are less likely to interrupt when they see activity. Just that simple act says “I’m in concentration mode”. Plus you’ll have notes of the things you discussed for future reference.
- Close the office door when you really need to focus. If you feel bad about doing that, post a note asking the others to interrupt only if they really need to speak urgently. Let them know when you’ll be available to talk.
- If you’re lucky enough to have an assistant, let that person get your calls or run interference for you with others. Take advantage of a gatekeeper that can help guard your schedule.
- If you work at home, be guarded about your work hours and let family/friends know when you can and can’t be interrupted.
- Get some headsets. If you work in Cubicle Alley, you’re probably tired of overhearing everyone else’s conversation. Try some noise cancelling headsets to block out the noise.
- Let Music Soothe the Distraction Beast. It sounds crazy, but playing (not too loudly) can give you a focal point to help you block out the noise from distractions.
- Try a white noise machine. You know that white noise machines you probably have left over from your baby’s early days? Take it to the office and play it in the background when you’re trying to work.
I’d love to hear which one of these tactics work for you, or if you have other suggestions for blocking out outside distractions.
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