How to Avoid Distractions at Work



Social Media Distractions

How many distractions do you encounter on a day-to-day basis? If you’re like me, it’s probably more than you care to count. Whether you get side-tracked by a random email, get interrupted by a phone call, get roped into attending another meeting, or any number of other disruptions, we all experience these in some shape or form.

Sometimes what you’re doing in these moments of disturbance are tasks that need to be done, but they aren’t priority, or they aren’t part of your immediate plan. Also, how many of you have gotten side-tracked on social media? I mean, you can’t go post an update without scrolling through your feed a few times, right?

In today’s world of new technology, tools, systems and new and faster innovation coming out continuously, many tasks have been made more efficient. However, these very elements that make our lives easier in some respects also create more distractions for us in many ways.

For instance, the real-time functionality of Twitter and Facebook is fantastic except when you’re bombarded with comments that you need to respond to, forcing you to drop everything to address them. It’s both a blessing, and in some ways, a curse.

So, how can you get any work done with all this other stuff going around you? It’s possible, but it takes some discipline and practice. A few years ago at the New Media Expo, Guy Kawasaki stated that checking your email first thing in the morning may not be the best and most efficient way to start your day. At first, I didn’t agree, but after trying it, I found that it really helps you prioritize what needs to be done.

Create daily plans

Before getting too far into your day, an excellent first step is to have a physical plan either typed or written. If possible, you can do this at the end of the previous day. The idea is that you know what needs to be done and can keep referring to your list to remind yourself that you’re on a deadline, or to cross items off. In other words, it holds you accountable.

Now, everyone will have unexpected issues come up that need to be addressed such as the above Twitter scenario, but overall, a daily plan helps to keep you on track.

Communication helps, right?

We have all these great avenues to communicate more effectively today, but for some reason, it’s often harder. This is really basic advice, but sadly, it often needs to be voiced. Since effective communication and transparency are keys for every business looking to be successful, how about being open with your colleagues? If you have a deadline or a task that requires all your attention, tell them. This way, you’ll know that, if they reach out to you, the issue really does require you’re undivided attention.

Embrace this great thing called technology

Going back to what we said before, we have so much information and technology at our fingertips. So, let’s use it! From phones to email, there are ways to let people know that you’ll be unavailable for a certain amount of time. It’s as easy as changing a few settings. You won’t be losing any information; it will all still be there. But, people will know when they can reach you and that they should only to bring pressing matters to your attention.

Personally, I love social media, but I feel like it’s made us all hyper to the point where we can’t sit still sometimes. Even with all the great tools for scheduling and monitoring what’s going on with your social media channels, we all feel like our eyes will start to twitch if we don’t move to our social media tabs every little bit. However, we need to train ourselves to understand that everything is running smoothly. If something really good, or on the contrary, really bad happens, our alerts will let us know.

Funders and Founders put together an excellent series of infographics on how to become more productive. One of my favorites is “How to Work Fast:” (Click to enlarge.)

Infographic - Working Fast

By applying these steps, you can stick to your plan, avoid distractions AND be productive. While it’s true that many great developments often happen in the midst of chaos and hype, the light bulb is often kept on through dedicated focus void of distractions.


Abby Johnson

Abby brings a unique perspective to the mix because her background consists of both traditional broadcast and public relations to now the world of online. She is very skilled at looking at the big picture and understanding how to get the message across to a particular audience.

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