It’s a simple fact of modern working life that we are stuck for many hours at a time in front of our computer screens. The utopian dream has been for decades that more technology would equal more leisure time, but this is not what is happening. Part of the problem is that there are so many more distractions nowadays, due in large part to a digitally connected world of instant messaging, emails, and newsfeeds from across the globe.
We’ve likely all been in a situation where we have a deadline to meet for work and we get a message or two on our smartphone. We are attuned to the little ding of a new message and feel an overwhelming compulsion to check the message before we get back to work.
The problem is that in attending to this distraction we actually cut down our work productivity. The brain snaps out of work mode and has to suddenly focus on something new. In trying to shift back to work mode from whatever distraction we attended to in that moment, we struggle to find the same rhythm we had before.
Getting More Work Done and Increasing Your Productivity
Despite the growing number of distractions around us, digital or otherwise, there are a number of habits we can get into and things we can do to mitigate distractions and increase our productivity and level of focus. Consider the following advice:
- Time management: Managing one’s time remains one of the best ways to reduce distractions and increase our productivity, but many people find it a distinct challenge to achieve. The best way to manage one’s time is to break tasks into smaller chunks. Rather than see all of the tasks ahead of you as one monolithic task, break each one down and assign it a specific timeframe.
- Smartphones: Yes, they are everywhere, but they distract us without us even knowing it. Even if they are not making noise and alerting us to a new message, we are habituated to checking them periodically. Take control of your smartphone and turn it off completely for a certain amount of time during the day to increase your productivity.
- Action emails: If you have a task to get done but have a load of emails to attend to, it can be a real distraction. Instead of letting emails build up to the point that you think about them all of the time, action each one as it enters your inbox. Doing this will mean that your emails don’t build up and you get a lot more done without the cognitive burden of having to think about them all day.
- Time savers: If you work in the design field or use a popular program like Excel or Final Cut Pro, you can save yourself a lot of time each day by buying yourself a custom skin for your keyboard that indicates all of the shortcuts for the program visually. You’d be surprised at how a simple and affordable Final Cut Pro Mac skin, for example, can shave minutes off of your day and make you feel more in control.
Taking Back Control
Our globalised work is a busy place full of noises and digital distractions. By implementing some simple tips it is possible to wrest back control of your time and feel like you are on top of things again!