When it comes to working in the 21st century (especially if you are working from home), there are always lots of distractions it seems. Whether it be your pets, other people in your space or the wonderful distraction-filled device that is your phone; there is always something wanting your attention.
The key to dealing with these distractions is not to pretend they don’t exist, but rather to identify and acknowledge that they exist in order to be more productive.
The way to acknowledge whether something is a distraction or not is pretty easy… does it draw your attention away from your work? If yes, then that’s a distraction!
The next thing you need to identify is whether that distraction is lasting or fleeting. If this distraction is only going to be a distraction for 5 minutes, then you probably don’t need to do anything drastic to try and manage it. But if the distraction seems like it’s going to be around for a couple of hours/days, then this is something that will need more management. Managing a distraction could be as easy as leaving the room, but some distractions are a little harder to manage. When this is the case, there are a number of things you can put in place to mitigate them.
Assess what the distraction is and how to manage it
Identifying a distraction is key in order to stop a one-off from transforming into patterned behaviour. For example, If you find your pets are distracting you daily, leaving them alone or in a different room may just increase their distracting nature; I know mine like to cry and get up to mischief. In this case, finding a more sustainable management option for them is in order. Something along the lines of setting up a toy for them to play with, or taking a quick break to play with them and tire them out could work. Of course, it will take a few tries to figure out the best options for you.
Find your own headspace and area to work
Another big distraction for some could stem from living with others. It can be frustrating when you don’t exactly have your own space to work in peace. Lockdown is a very real example of this.
Something I suggest for managing this distraction is to use some headphones! Headphones not only allow you to listen to whatever you like without disturbing others but it also gives a clear “I am currently busy” vibe – which sometimes is management enough. Headphones can also allow you to feel as if you are more separated from the environment in which you’re currently in.
Another option could be working outside, allowing for some good old fresh air, which is never a bad thing, and a bit of distance from those who might be inside.
Put your phone out of your eye site and muting things you don’t need – Right now!
The hardest distraction to manage, at least in my opinion, is our phones. See I would just say to put it in another room far out of reach, but I understand this isn’t always a viable option. So, instead, I would suggest muting any notifications from apps you don’t need during your workday.
Another suggestion I have is to write down whatever you think you want to check on your phone when it comes to mind, then once you decide to have a break, go through that list and check off each item. With this method I think you will find some things aren’t even worth looking up, they were just a distracting thought.
Block out time for you and only you
Another good suggestion is to block out time that you are dedicating only to completing something. If you say from 9 am – 11 am (and set an alarm if you must), I need to complete these five things, then you find that your mind will automatically think only about the tasks at hand and not about the other things around you.
Use a tool like Trello.com to help you prioritise your tasks
Trello.com is a web-based tool that allows you to conveniently manage projects and prioritise tasks.
At Creative Little Soul, we use Trello and we found that with all the tasks and people involved within our company is it beneficial to keep you on track and organised for what you need to do for the day.
Outsource if you need to
Spend about 30 mins and nut out what is a BIG distraction for you, usually, the answer is tasks that take up too much of my time or tasks that you forget about.
Sometimes the simplest thing can be done by someone else. If you are spending too much time doing admin, accounts or even social media posts, then it is always wise to seek out help who can free your time up and who can complete the work in half the time.
Each of us will have a million different things distracting during the day, but the key is to know how to deal with them. Just remember we are human, and things are going to distract us so don’t be too hard on yourself if you find yourself in this situation.
If you need to discuss outsourcing, please email our fearless leader Chrissy at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss some options that work for your business and situation.