Your time is precious. Every hour, minute and second we spend at work, in particular, should be accounted for. We are but passing through this world, after all, so why not make the most of it?
Unfortunately, we also live in a world absolutely jam-packed with distractions and each and every one eats up precious time from our schedule.
I speak from experience. As a blogger, I now use all manner of productivity-enhancing tips to remove distractions and make the most of my days, but it hasn’t always been like this and I’d like you to benefit from the changes I made to my own work ethic and environment.
Some distractions are welcome, but in this post, I’m going to focus on how to rid yourself of the most harmful.
Your day is your property. Let’s reclaim it!
Clean up your workspace
We’ve all been guilty of this at some stage, but it is a silent productivity killer that is all too easy to overlook: the messy desk. Colleagues, notifications and emails aside, inanimate objects can be just as big a distraction, so it’s time to clean up your workspace.
Remove and file away everything you’re not currently working on. Throw away anything you’ve finished with. Leave only the essentials – your laptop, phone and notepad. In doing so, you’ll have removed countless distractions and simultaneously created an environment that will keep you focussed on the job in hand.
Declutter your computer
I’m a bit of a stickler for this. If you take a look at my computer desktop you’ll find an ultra clean space with no documents, folders or leftover installation files anywhere in sight. Everything is filed away in its place, out of sight.
Try it. If your desktop is full of icons you’ve not interacted with for months, perform the same tidy you carried out on your physical desktop with that on your computer. Uninstall applications you no longer use and turn off all but the most important of notifications.
Be digitally clear – it feels good.
Shut the door
Depending on your working environment, you may find this one a little tricky. If you work at home, the temptation to leave the office door open to listen out for the postman may be too great. Ignore it – close that door.
In a communal office, the thought of shutting colleagues out may concern the sociable amongst you. If you’re a manager, you may have the ‘my door is always open’ rhetoric ringing in your ears. Ignore it – close that door.
Your door doesn’t have to remain closed at all times, but by setting certain times where, without fail, it is, you’ll grab that all important time to yourself and likely produce your best work as a result.
Remove email from your smartphone
Email is not a method by which people should grab your attention, so try this for size: remove it from everything but your computer. Your tablet and smartphone should be email-free zones.
It sounds counterintuitive, but remember that people will always contact you via other means if there’s an emergency. Email shouldn’t rule you.
Take a look at your own habits
It’s time to look at oneself. And I’m sorry to break this to you, but you may be one of the biggest distractions you experience while trying to work. Do you leave the TV on while working? What’s your diet like? Do you eat regular meals and ensure you take on enough energy-boosting foods?
What about exercise? Are you giving your body enough oxygen and regular workouts? These are all just some of the bad personal traits which will add to your distractions throughout the day and only you can stop them. If you suspect that a habit is pegging you back, alter it immediately.
Follow the above stages of distraction removal and you should end up with working days that flow as effectively as they should. Just remember to set yourself daily goals and rejoice in your ability to, finally, achieve each and every one.