Distractions are not limited to your surroundings, it is imperative that your work space be as ‘business’ as possible. Therefore, keep your desk free of clutter! What constitutes ‘clutter’ may be different for each person, but let’s agree that children’s toys, empty plates of food, rubbish and even office-related things that have nothing to do with the task at hand, etc. are less than conducive to a productive work session. That’s not to say that family pictures or other decorations are out of the question, but they should be hanging on the wall, or placed on a shelf in plain view, NOT hogging the space on your work surface.
All your lifelines to the outside world can often become distractions of their own: having your social media running in the background will result in constant reminders, pop-ups, and sounds. Unless you are actively working with social media at that particular moment, my advice is to turn them off completely and schedule regular times to check them. A similar approach is starting to become more acceptable with regards to emails: a number of companies not only encourage their workforce to NOT check emails outside of working hours, but actively recommend that email applications be opened at regular intervals to check for and deal with incoming mails, then shut it down again, thereby removing the constant distraction. This, of course, depends entirely on the sort of business you are running. However, unless you are in the business of troubleshooting time-sensitive issues all day long, you may want to consider this avenue to keep distractions at bay.
At this point, let’s consider your smartphone. Our phones have turned into sanctuaries of distraction and top level time suckers. In terms of social media, the same ideas apply as for computer based disruptions.
There is another point to be made for keeping the private use of your phone at a minimum during work hours. I’m afraid this may sound like a blast from the past, but not so long ago being at work meant that you could only receive calls through the company phone line. Any calls were to be kept to an absolute minimum, and limited to disaster management and family emergencies. I believe this to be a good things still: being in constant communication with family and friends does not enhance the quality of work, nor does it help your kids become more self-reliant, nor does it remove complexity from your life.
The only effect I can see is that it muddles the distinction between work and life. Why not consider this: stick to work while at work (keeping social and personal interaction at a minimum, see Tip #4: Schedule breaks into your daily routine), but also leave work be when you are NOT ‘in the office’! Of course, this will not always be possible, and work and life will always overlap to some degree. It is, however, a good idea to set out with this goal and remind yourself of it often – it’s no big deal to slip occasionally, as long as there is a good enough reason and we are aware that this is an exception. If you don’t set boundaries, work time and free time will become indistinguishable over time and things will become ever more difficult to manage.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.