Organize + Energize: Beat Distractions in the Workplace
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Here are 10 ways to stay focused and limit your distractions in the workplace.
1. Declutter and get organized.
Visual clutter leads to mental clutter, which will in turn cause you to lose focus and decrease your productivity. Declutter and organize your desk. You should only have on top of your desk what you need on a daily basis. Remove the horizontal flat filing trays. They are a breeding ground for loose paper.
2. Have a system and a process for everything you do in your office.
If you are disorganized and go to search for a file or important paper, you will waste time looking for it and this process will cause you to become distracted and lose focus. Have a process to handle every piece of paper that arrives at your desk. Create working filing systems so that when you need to search for an item, it will be at your fingertips and you will be able to find it at a moment’s notice. Remember, the simpler the systems you create, the easier the system will be to maintain. The more complex the system, the more likely the system is to fail.
3. Work on your time management skills.
Organization and time management go hand in hand. You can’t work on your time management skills until you have decluttered and organized. Create blocks of time that you dedicate to projects you are working on. Prioritize your tasks. Take some time to think about how you are functioning in your day. What changes can you make to become more efficient and productive?
4. Utilize to-do lists.
Working with a to-do list will keep you on track during the day. You will have a feeling of accomplishment when you cross items off the list. You will look at your to-do-list throughout the day and it will keep you focused and on track seeing everything you need to accomplish for the day.
5. Limit your interruptions.
Aside from urgent issues that need to be handled immediately, set aside time for your co-workers to ask you questions. They won’t be disrupting you throughout the day and it will allow you to stay focused. And before you interrupt someone else, think about if you can figure out the answer first before you disrupt your co-worker.
6. Create a working organized system for emails.
Can you develop a system where you check emails only certain times of the day? The minute you pull yourself away from what you are doing to check an email, you get distracted and lose focus on the task at hand. If you are working on an important project, stay away from your email for that time period. When sending an email think about if you really need to hit the “reply all” key, or if you need to copy everybody on the email.
7. Work on difficult tasks when you are at your best.
You will be easily distracted and lose focus when you are not working at your best. If you have a difficult project to tackle, choose a time when you are functioning at your best, whether it is the morning when you first walk in the door or right after lunch.
8. Be mindful.
Pay attention to when you start to get distracted. What is distracting you and how can you prevent that distraction from happening? Can you notify your co-workers to not disturb you during certain hours of the day? Concentrate on the task at hand and don’t allow yourself to get distracted and switch to a different project. If an idea pops into your head, write it down and then continue with the task at hand.
9. Reduce your lingering time milling around the office.
The minute you get up from your desk, you immediately get distracted. Somebody may see you are up, and that is a cue for them to speak to you. It’s going to distract you and take you away from what you were doing at that moment.
10. Drink water and eat healthy while at work.
This will keep you alert, productive, and will keep you from feeling sluggish.
Make your co-workers aware that you are working on trying to reduce your distractions and you are trying to stay focused. They may think first before they ask you a question that they could’ve found the answer to themselves, or they may not come over and make conversation as easily at your desk if they know you are trying to stay focused.
5 Organizing Blunders
Avoid these mistakes and your project will take less time than you expected. You won’t be as stressed or as overwhelmed as you anticipated. You will be amazed at what you have accomplished. You will be motivated and energized to tackle another project.
Not planning ahead
Getting organized is a process and you have to have a plan on how to conquer your project. You can’t tear apart an entire room all at once. You need to break the project down into small pieces. Plan to tackle your project in 3-hour increments. If you work longer than 3 hours at a time, you are setting yourself up for burnout. Plan ahead to try to avoid distractions and stay focused.
Purchasing the incorrect supplies
I know you are excited to get organized, but don’t rush out to the store and purchase products just because you like the way they look. Get organized first. Figure out what you need to contain, and then purchase your container to match the items you need it to hold.
Not letting others know about your system
Once you set up the organized system, you have to get everybody in your home on board. Show them the systems and how you are going to function with this system going forward. Label everything if you must, so everybody gets in the habit of putting items away. Remember, the simpler the system, the easier it’s going to be to maintain.
Kristin Carcieri-MacRae, the founder and owner of Organizing in RI, has always enjoyed finding creative ways to streamline the environment around her. She has appeared on air on Patricia Raskin's Positive Business Radio and her articles have been published in the Rhode Island Small Business Journal and New England Home Life. Kristin's CD, Organizing Basics, is a 1-hour guide for the person who wants to get organized but doesn't know where to start. She is also available for organizing workshops. Tune into her weekly radio show, Organize, Energize! on Mondays at 8:30am on www.talkstreamradio.com.
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