You’re in the zone. You’ve got coffee by your side. You have the task at hand and focus firmly in your vision. You’re going to get this done. YOU’VE GOT THIS.
You’re getting into the rhythm. Progress is beginning. PING. An email arrives. Another, then a third. BZZ. BZZ. Your phone is ringing. [Try to ignore the distractions] TAP. A tap on the shoulder from a colleague asking how that project you’re working on is going. Before you know it, you’ve spent an hour getting ready to get in the zone and you’ve already lost your mojo.
You’re frustrated, getting hungry again and you’re losing the will to continue on this piece of work… We’ve all been there, right? Sometimes just focusing before getting stuff done is the hardest part. Take our advice with these anti-distraction tools at work to show those pesky distractions and procrastination opportunities whose boss.
Turn off notifications
To boost productivity, one of the best things you can do is just simply stop notifications. If you don’t want to endure the constant buzz of your phone with a new tweet, the updates from Slack or the incessant ping of emails coming through, temporarily disable all notifications so that your mind won’t wander or be interrupted whilst you get something important done.
Better yet, switch off your WiFi and switch off your phone. You’ll survive! If you want something done – whether it’s a client pitch, a piece of editing or a report for a manager, take the power into your own hands and switch off your internet and phone. If you’re really serious about getting the work done, everything else can wait.
Set ‘in the zone’ time
Working side-by-side colleagues in an open-plan office or a shared space? Let them know you’re spending the next hour or two ‘in the zone’ in order to get some important work done. Involve those around you to make it easier and to warn them that interruptions are not appreciated.
If they know not to annoy you or bother you for a specific amount of time, unless an emergency, they’ll know backing off will help you achieve what you need to achieve. Better yet, they might want to even help you by fielding any requests that come your way if you’re super busy in the mean time. We’ve all had deadlines, we’ve all needed to be ‘in the zone’ – so set the parameters for your colleagues and use them to help you.
Avoid the internet. Just avoid it.
Let’s face it, the internet is one giant distraction. So many sites, so little time – click, click, click and before you know it you’re in an ASMR mukbang spiral for the last 20 minutes with no sign of escape. Apps and sites like Hocus Focus, Freedom, Cold Turkey Blocker, Leechblock and Rescue Time are all excellent for monitoring your activity, checking your productivity and halting access from specific (or all) sites to ensure you get your work done. Don’t fall down the spiral.
To work from home or not?
Sometimes being entirely home alone (or in a cafe where no one knows you) can aid productivity, but for others it can offer up a whole world of procrastination and distraction. Know your own boundaries, limits and pitfalls. If shutting yourself off and being in your own space allows you to get s*** done, do so.
However, if it’s the opposite, best to keep yourself chained to your desk and cranking out the work in the office. Having the option is good, but knowing which aids better productivity and performance is essential.
Set the soundtrack
Some of us work better fuelled by music. Whether it’s a light, elegant and soothing classical playlist or throbbing industrial or heavy metal, different beats, artists and soundtracks help us to achieve progress and get stuff done in different ways. Know what works for you and use it. If you’re the strong and silent type, but still surrounded by colleagues in a busy workplace, invest in noise cancelling headphones to really block out the outside world and focus.
The big break up
Decide whether it’s best to crank through a solid hour or two of work in one go or whether it’s best to set strategic, even tactical, breaks. Some of us work better when we allow ourselves 25 minutes work with a five minute break, for example, to break up the overwhelming dread of having to complete a task, whereas others find powering through and not looking up from the desk until they’re done the best solution. Whatever the way, find what works best for you – will you lose focus if you take a break or two? Will a break actually give you time to think, refocus and reenergise?