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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

Andrew Millard
Andrew Millard is Senior Director, Marketing, EMEA, Online Services Division, Citrix. Andrew has worked for the Online Services Division for five years. Before joining the company he was Acquisition Manager for T-Mobile Direct, where he was responsible for Post-pay, Pre-pay, Business (SOHO and small business) and Data Proposition across all channels, including web and telesales. His success in developing channel-specific marketing strategies reflects his belief in the critical value of creating highly targeted and compelling propositions, promotions and communications for simple and easy-to-use collaboration tools from Citrix. Andrew's responsibilities at Citrix include demand generation for both EMEA and Asia-Pacific and leading the overall marketing strategy for the expansion of the Online Services Division portfolio across these regions. He is a strong advocate of workshifting and is passionately committed to the Citrix approach, which he believes makes a real difference, directly meeting the needs of today's business by enabling people to work more flexibly and collaboratively. Andrew is a career-long marketer, having gained a BA (Hons) Marketing from Huddersfield and a CIM Professional Diploma. Connect with Andrew on Twitter: @millard_andrew and keep up-to-date with all the latest news: @GoToMeetingUK.
  • Sam

    Awesome tips! I couldn’t
    agree more. Yeah, you can be more productive if you quit from browsing your Facebook
    and Twitter accounts. I mean don’t just hide them but have some guts to logout
    from it. Ideally, this is more of a manager’s job to block these sites but I
    understand that it’s no longer fun working in an office if you don’t have a way
    to socialize yourself. So how about implementing an employee tracking software?
    I’ve heard it can track the hours worked, send daily/weekly reports and at the same time employees can simply
    logout from the tracker if they wanted to see what’s going on their social
    media accounts.