If you are an executive struggling to understand why your team is unable to meet its objectives and deadlines, here are some devastating statistics from CareerBuilder: 43% of workers say they lose three or more hours a day to workplace distractions and close to 75% of employees reported losing at least two hours daily.
Whether you yourself face this problem or manage people that fall into that category, here are some ways to reclaim time by decreasing distractions.
From email to social media apps, there is no shortage of notifications vying for your attention every hour. That is not an idle statement – user interface (UI) designers deliberately create apps to make sounds as well as display images and colors in the same way casino machines do.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution to these distractions – switch off your notifications. Yes, it may seem like a scary prospect but is one that many top C-suite executives swear by. Rather than be interrupted unexpectedly throughout the day, relegate checking and responding to emails to specific slots when it is convenient.
Sure, open-plan layouts are cool and make you feel like you are working at a hip company but they can also be incredibly distracting. Designed for “the future” where walls are treated as metaphors, these visually appealing floor plans serve as an invitation to interact. Create a way to inform your colleagues that you would like to not be disturbed; something simple and direct like a “Do not disturb” sign is usually the most effective.
The other problem inherent in open-plan offices is the noise. It is probably impractical – and perhaps even abrasive – to demand that everyone “keep it down”. One neutral and very highly effective alternative is to don a pair of earphones. Play conducive music or use it just to muffle the ambient noise.
Some employers may be open to team members opting for a work-from-home model. Take advantage of that if you feel your workplace is distracting. However, keep in mind that the home has its own distraction pitfalls.
We often fall into the trap of completing simple and arguably unimportant tasks even when we are fully conscious that there are more pressing matters at hand. It is a common human trait but a very unproductive one.
Be conscious of your mind’s tendency to revert to easy mode when you have more important matters to attend to. Checking email when you have a PowerPoint presentation due? Step in and break the chain. Need help figuring out how to break the chain? Let me know. I’m here for you.