The Five Most Common Daily Distractions
How to Keep Productivity on Track
By Marlene Wagner
Distractions can be found in every aspect of our daily lives. We all have it, both personally and professionally.
Unexpected interruptions can significantly impact productivity, from phone calls to emails, texts to meetings.
That’s why it’s crucial to have a plan for keeping productivity on track. To help and inspire you, here are five common daily distractions and ways to combat them.
So Many Emails
It’s not just the constant barrage of emails coming in but also the unreasonable expectation that you should respond to emails quickly.
I have to guard against falling into that trap. It hooks me when I want to quickly remove and delete the clutter and unnecessary email.
What emails need to be looked at that require time depends on how much time is involved.
If an email requires an immediate reply, I take care of it. If it can wait, I flag it.
Whatever can wait is flagged, or I open a browser and deal with it later.
Meanwhile, more emails keep dropping in, and the vicious email cycle keeps me trapped.
The next thing I realize, an hour has passed, and I’m behind on my intended work or projects for the day.
Do you see what has happened here? Do you see how I fell into the email time suck?
Can anyone relate to this scenario? I think you can, as it plays out on computers every day.
I’ve learned about the email battle, that everyone works out a solution that works for them.
So, unfortunately, I hate being the bearer of bad news, but you are on your own as this coach doesn’t have a solution for you.
I can tell you the system I use when I use it, as I have days when I fall off the plan.
I do a quick check when I open my computer in the morning. If nothing is pressing or urgent at that moment, I close my email.
I recheck emails a few hours later, take care of important emails, and leave all the rest for later.
I check back four times throughout the day and leave all others until the end of my work day or in the evening before bed.
Start by trying specific times during the day to check and respond to emails.
You may also find it helpful to set boundaries with work-related emails, such as not responding after hours or on the weekends.
It takes the brain an average of 23 minutes to get back on track after a distraction. Our phones buzz on average once every 12 minutes.
No wonder it’s so hard to stay focused!
When you need to focus, try turning your phone silent and turn off unnecessary notifications.
As with email, set specific times to check your phone during the day.
If you are still tempted to check your phone when you need to be focused and productive, you may best move the phone to a different room if you work from home.
Phone notifications can disrupt many other ways when you need to be focused and productive.
You could prepare dinner for your family or a big dinner party. We need to be focused.
Turn off the phone when spending time with family and friends or at dinner, a movie, or a live event. Notifications are annoying to others as well as rude.
By far, phone notifications have become one of the most disruptive and annoying digital devices.
It is also the hardest to shut off and put aside for periods of time.
It eats up our time more than any other devices we all have.
And I raise my hand. I’m as guilty as most.
I glance at the notifications and scan for important ones, but I’m disciplined well enough to ignore most of them.
What system do you have in place? I’d love to hear how others manage phone notifications.
Task-switching, also known as multitasking, has been found to hinder productivity.
Multitasking, in my opinion, is one of the worst habits one can engage in.
It is also one of the most challenging habits to break.
I’ve had clients who are multitaskers, and it’s hard to convince them of the time they’re wasting by multitasking.
It has been proven repeatedly that multitasking is nonproductive, and the brain can only focus on one thing at a time.
When multitasking, the focus switches from one thing to the next numerous times, and time is lost refocusing from one to the other each time.
You’re mentally exhausted and feel you have been so busy and worked hard all day.
The most productive individuals focus on just one task at a time.
If you’ve been a multitasker for a long time, you may find it challenging just to do one thing at a time.
Working from a prioritized list of tasks and taking short breaks throughout the day can also be effective ways to boost productivity.
Meditation can be a great way to retrain your brain to focus on the task at hand rather than trying to do multiple things at once
Friends and Family
We all have people in our circles who seem oblivious that we have our agenda and things to get done.
Whether it’s a chatty coworker at the office or your mom dropping by during the day because you work from home.
It’s a time setting boundaries will help you stay on track and avoid unnecessary distractions.
Be polite but firm, and offer an alternative time or place to get together.
Have a secondary plan if your family members or coworkers don’t honor or respect your boundaries.
It’s time you stand firm with Mom or the chatty coworker.
I’m sorry, I am in the middle of something and can’t talk now. Catch you later, and we’ll get caught up.
They may be persistent as they won’t like the change.
That’s when it’s most important to remain consistent with conveying the message that you are serious.
Getting Distracted by Personal Duties
With so many people working from home, it can be tempting to try and do some personal tasks during work downtime.
When the day came that I started working out of my home, I set down rules and regulations from day one.
I wanted to set the same ground rules and conditions I’d established working for years in a commercial office and environment.
I never wavered from the daily work schedule I’d been used to for my years of a commercial environment.
It’s best to explicitly set aside work hours to focus on work and non-work hours for personal tasks.
Adjust according to the type of work you do. I choose to work Monday through Friday, typically nine to five hours.
However, I allow medically related appointments but make them as early as possible so it doesn’t disrupt my work day any more than necessary.
Weekends are for personal tasks and socializing with friends and family.
Most of the time, I avoid turning on my computer on weekends or doing so briefly.
If you do choose to complete personal tasks during work hours, set aside blocks of time and use a timer to keep you focused and on task.
Avoid doing this too often, however, because it takes the brain a bit to regain focus after changing tasks, and that time adds up!
Possibly a less disruptive change in tasks is to assign half a day for personal tasks.
Another way is to work four full days and take off the fifth day for personal tasks.
Some weeks, I take a Friday afternoon off to start my weekend early if I have particular projects or events to enjoy.
The five common distractions in this article can be highly disruptive to productivity.
With some organization and mindfulness, we can overcome these interruptions and stay on task.
Utilize the tips, such as setting aside specific times for checking emails or responding to texts.
Focusing on one task at a time, and taking breaks throughout the day, will help you boost your productivity and avoid unnecessary distractions.
I’ve enjoyed bringing you this article for the week because I suffer from and experience the same things you are.
Sharing with you how I deal with the challenges was fun for me as well as a reminder to stay on task as well.
Entering into the busy holiday season makes it all more challenging. But I hope it will help you schedule each day to stay on task as much as possible.
I’ll have more to bring you next week, so watch for more I have to give you.
If you have any particular challenges regarding this topic, email me and let me know. I’ll include it in my content.
Starting today, make yourself a priority and begin living your best life.
But before we go, always remember to
Be true to your magnificent self,
Connect with me!! I’d love to hear from you.