I talk about distractions a lot! It’s because many people feel like they’re losing control of their time. If you’re working from home, you’re probably experiencing more distractions than ever! The number one way to regain control over your time is to get better at eliminating distractions.
One study from UC Irvine showed that we get interrupted every 11 minutes on average, and it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back on task. All those distractions can add up to hours every day! Studies have also shown that interruptions and distractions increase stress and mistakes.
If you want to be productive and effective, you need to stay focused (no multitasking!). Here are my tips for getting rid of common distractions that keep us from “deep work” and add stress to our day.
Workplace distractions mainly fall into two categories, and there are ways to manage both:
- Distractions from your devices
- Distractions from other people
Eliminate Distractions From Your Devices
My people all know I love unicorns, rainbows, and all things shiny. A shiny, bouncing notification is hard to resist—so I eliminated them all. As shocking as it sounds, I have zero notifications for any application on my phone except texting and phone calls.
Why did I choose to completely ditch all these notifications? I followed the trail and found out how much of my time was being wasted.
I bought a wedding gift from Williams Sonoma, and a month later I got a notification on my phone that they had sent me an email— “New Fall Trends!” 25 minutes later, I was looking at Christmas wreaths on the Williams Sonoma website. It was September! I didn’t even want a Christmas wreath!
This is what happens when we go follow the trail of distractions. We get a notification that entices us away, and it might take hours to get back on track!
Of course, the first thing I did was unsubscribe from the email, but next, I turned off email notifications on my phone.
Don’t let your device be in charge.
It might sound crazy to have a smartphone and not get notifications for anything other than phone calls and texts. But take a look at the notification settings for your phone: Do you really want to be interrupted by your news app or social media right when you’re in the middle of a task? Of course not.
“But my emails are time-sensitive!”
If there’s a time-sensitive email—like inbound leads—you can set your email system or sales platform up to text you when that email comes. You can also configure your email to only notify you of emails from certain people (like your boss).
I’ve heard every “time-sensitive” email objection (and excuse!), and it’s easily debunked. If it’s a real emergency, people aren’t going to email you. They’re going to call, or they’re going to text you. If you don’t answer your text… they’ll call! If you don’t answer your phone… they’ll text!
Don’t give yourself the lame excuse that everything is critical. Take back control of your device. If your new app wants to enable notifications, or if your Apple watch wants to send every email to your wrist, the answer is NO. It’s not up to your device to decide how you spend your time. That’s your decision!
Do whatever you can to avoid double notifications. If a new email triggers an alert on your phone AND your computer, it’s virtually impossible not to get distracted!
Eliminate In-Person Distractions
Humans are social creatures. It’s natural for us to be distracted by other people. But no matter how much we enjoy the company, sometimes work needs to get done!
Form a barrier
We can’t control other people, but we can often control our line of sight. Many distractions can be avoided by simply creating visual barriers to keep us focused.
- If you’re someone who gets easily distracted by people walking by, situate your desk so you’re not facing the door or hallway.
- If you’re meeting at a restaurant or working at a coffee shop, try to sit with your back to the room so you’re not distracted by people in the background.
- Arrange your computer monitor to block other people from your line of sight.
I have my monitors arranged so that I can’t see out of my office door when I’m working. I can still see if someone comes into my office, but it eliminates the distraction of having somebody walk by.
Rethink open-door policies
I’ve said this before: It’s time to close the door on your open door policy.
When you have an “open-door policy,” your team can—and will—interrupt you at any time. Yes, it’s important to be available to your co-workers, but it’s best to limit your open door to specific times.
Create a “Golden Hour”
Turning your desk around and shutting the door might not be enough! Develop a system to enable you (and your team) to block off time for deep, uninterrupted focus. Schedule it in your calendar and hang a sign on your door to let others know you’ve dedicated an hour to be distraction-free.
Between digital and in-person interruptions, it’s hard to stay focused! Our brains love distractions, but it takes a lot of time and mental energy to get back on track. If you choose the path of distraction, you never know how long it will take.
Remember, you’re in charge of your time. You decide whether or not to follow a distraction. You know that it takes time and mental energy to return to a task, and when you commit to yourself, you can commit to finishing the task at hand.
Hopefully, these tips help you eliminate distractions from your workday. If you’d like some more of my tips on time management, check out the archive and be sure to subscribe!
If your sales team is distraction-free and laser-focused, but you’re still facing challenges meeting your sales goals, I’d love to work with you.
Until next time—go sell some stuff!