I’ve written before on how using music helps me focus on my most important tasks, but we all have those days when there’s just too much going on, and we need more than a really motivating Spotify playlist. That’s why I’ve put together a few tips on other ways to shut out the chaos.
Find a quiet space.
Sometimes, it’s just not practical to put headphones on; either you’re not allowed to wear headphones at work or the environment around you is just too loud. That’s when it’s time to look for somewhere away from your desk to set up camp and crack on with the task at hand. Almost every office has someplace you can hide away, slightly removed from the day-to-day din but still obvious that you’re in the office and working hard.
Turn email off.
For many of us, email is the single biggest distraction in our day. That’s why many people now recommend turning your email off for an hour when you first start working. You’ll be able to get the important stuff done before people start weighing you down with appointments and requests that seem trivial but actually eat up a lot of time. If you find yourself facing an imminent deadline, it’s worth trying. Email your colleagues letting them know you’re disconnecting for an hour and to come see you in person if they need something – but stress that this should be for important requests only. Then shut Outlook down and focus entirely on the task at hand. You’ll be amazed how much work you can get done.
Sign out of social networks.
If you can’t turn your email off, then at the very least log out of Facebook and Twitter. It’s very easy to lose time to social media, particularly when you like to spend just a few minutes here and there looking at the most recent updates. But over the course of the day, this time adds up. If you instead sign out of your accounts, it takes a conscious effort to sign back in again, and if your deadline’s looming, this is an effort you’re likely to think twice about.
Go for a walk.
It’s no good working nonstop for 8 hours. Our attention spans are generally estimated to last no more than 30-40 minutes, so you’re not helping yourself or anyone else if you’re not taking breaks. You certainly won’t be producing your best work otherwise. Switch off and go on a walk for 15 minutes, even if it’s just around your office buildings. You can use this time to think about what you have to do that day and mentally organize your remaining tasks in order of priority. Or you can just switch off altogether – plan your dinner or what you’re going to do at the weekend.
Those are just some of the tricks I use to ensure I’m producing my best work and hitting my deadlines. What do you do? I’ve heard of some people who stand up when they have an important task at hand. Do you or any of your colleagues have similarly unique routines?
Photo credit: vonderauvisuals