In theory, the office is supposed to be the place where you complete your best work – the place where you hit peak productivity and zoom through your to-do list effortlessly. But in practice, the office can be a black hole of distractions and interruptions, preventing you from getting everything done and affecting your focus levels, whether you're a temporary PA, a busy receptionist, or the office manager.
From gossiping co-workers to cold calls on your office phone, there’s no end to the number of distractions you can face in an office environment. As a PA and secretarial recruitment agency, we know those distractions you face in the office, so here’s our top tips on how you can avoid the biggest distractions in the workplace and crack on with your workload in a productive way.
Put down the mobile phone
Mobile phones are notorious time thieves. You pick up your phone to quickly read a text message or scan through Facebook, and you’re still there fifteen minutes later, thinking, “How did I get here?” During office hours, put your mobile phone on silent and only use it at designated times – at lunchtimes and during your breaks, for example. Otherwise, you could be sucked into a world of notifications and status updates that routinely prevent you from getting things done.
Close your email client
Checking emails incessantly can really eat into the time you have to complete other tasks. When you see an email come through, it’s force of habit to want to read and respond to it immediately, but this can interrupt your train of thought and disrupt your focus. Like with your smartphone, take control of your inbox. Designate thirty minutes for checking emails at the start of the day, after lunch, and before you clock out.
Don’t listen to music
Try not to listen to music directly at your desk, that is, with earphones or headphones. Doing so can divide your attention, even if you don’t realise it; you won’t be concentrating fully on the task at hand because your brain is digesting the music at the same time. Background music is fine – many offices actually turn on the radio for their staff to create a more relaxed environment that isn’t dead silent. If you want to cancel out noise distractions around your cubicle or desk, buy some noise-cancelling headphones or listen to some white noise to help you focus.
Office chit-chat is unavoidable – and let's face it, if none of your co-workers interacted with one another, it’d be a pretty dull place to work. So there’s nothing wrong with chatting, as long as it doesn’t turn into a 30-minute conversation, and as long as it’s not when you’re in the middle of an important task. If someone approaches you hoping to chat and you’d rather not be distracted, politely let them know you’re busy right now, but would be more than happy to catch up at lunchtime or on your next break.
Like email, the internet is a double-edged sword. It has revolutionised the way we work and consume information – but it can be a real drain on productivity. It’s not realistic to spend your entire time in the workplace looking at work-related web pages. Just make sure you manage your time effectively. A reward-based system is a great idea. When you complete a certain task or work uninterrupted for a certain period of time, reward yourself with a window for browsing the web. Get it out of your system and you won’t feel your mouse wandering when you return to work.
For more productivity tips to keep you focused in the office, follow the Love Success blog!
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