At work, just like in life, distractions happen. The point is how well you manage them.
Even though you have a smart phone, and it may be your connection to the outside world, we suggest you have set times for checking messages and emails. If left on, you may hear that all too familiar “ding!” from your inbox or see the glow of the screen, and be more encouraged to stop what you’re doing to check it out. This may, in turn, distract you from other work-related tasks and before you know it you’re replying to friends and family about the upcoming weekend’s festivities and the day has gotten away from you.
In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude…
– Rollo May
The Common Distraction Problems
Here are some of the primary distractions that we face as entrepreneurs;
- Meetings – meetings are the necessary evil that stand between you and your team’s successful goals. However, it’s important to keep them operating as the productive tool they are intended to be, and know when they are imperative and when alternatives can be implemented.
- Calls – calls, similar to meeting, have a place and a purpose. They can be very useful; however, they can also be very distracting. The biggest danger is answering an unexpected call. You have no way of knowing how long the call will last, the topic, or the urgency. This can be a huge productivity killer when you already have your day organized.
- Emails – while emails are easier to organize and prioritize than incoming calls or meetings, the sheer volume can be a huge distraction.
- Social Media – social media is a double edged sword. From a marketing perspective we are warned that engagement, consistency, and timely interaction are crucial. However, from a productivity standpoint, social media monitoring can be a black hole. Like email, the problem lies in the sheer amount of information. Therefore, we need to learn to set parameters.
The Distraction Solutions
You know that list you made, the one that has an order of importance? Try focusing on one small task right off in the morning, before jumping into your inbox; that way, one thing is done and can be marked off the list. Accomplishment!
Here are some of the solutions to the distractions that we face;
- Meetings – facilitate online meetings when possible, create agendas, and utilize facilitators. Read more about streamlining meeting in our recent post about managing meetings.
- Calls – ignore unscheduled phone calls and set aside time for checking and responding to voicemails. When responding to messages respond to quick messages first and add important messages that require lengthy responses to your to-do-list. Try programs such as Google Voice for consolidating multiple lines and transcribing and emailing your voicemails.
- Emails – turn your email off when working on important projects. Try using Mailbox to ‘snooze’ emails, or Unrollme to remove junk mail. When responding to messages eliminate quick responses first, and add important messages which require lengthy responses to your to-do-list.
- Social Media – use scheduling tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer to plan your posts and view all of your accounts at once, establish set times and timeframes each day for checking and responding to updates, and turn off unnecessary notifications.
Technology is both our friend and foe when it comes to being productive. It’s important to learn what works best for you, recognize your limitations, and eliminate distractions.
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You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.
– Saul Bellow